Parenting. It teaches me about myself. It reminds me how much I have grown up and how much I have yet to grow. It makes my emotional state feel raw and yet oddly like I am wrapped up in a cozy warm blanket of love and happiness all in the same breath. It is hard, the hardest job I have ever had, yet so satisfying at the same time. It is filled with drama and laughter; tears and bodily fluids!
I hold their hands every chance I can get. One still chubby & sweet hand with nails gnawed down to nothing and one lean perpetually dirty yet still so soft hand. I put my hand on their soft swirling messy heads in the morning to gently pat and breathlessly whisper I love you’s to them because I still can.
I noticed my hand the other day and it looks so much like my mother’s did when I was young… that was it looks old. How did that happen? Slowly the tide of gray is coming in blooming out of the center of my scalp so that I cannot keep up on it. And those two wee tots are growing so fast I cannot stem the tide of that either. Nor do I want to though some days I sit very still and watch them quietly to see how they are, how much they have changed. I remember every moment in my mind’s eye as if those moments are happening right now. Sometimes that is weird like when I was a kid and I would get out the slide projector. Sometimes, the slides would end up on top of each other making a mish mash of photo memories on the large white screen in front of us. That is what it is like to look at my kids now and remember them as they were when they were first born or the first, second, third years…
Standing before me are big kids, long limbs and intricate word tracks and emotions beyond hungry or tired or change me. I sit quietly with them and I remember those first moments when those sweet screaming purple faces were laid down next to mine or those first steps and that beaming chubby baby face filled with glee at learning to walk; there are simple expansive moments and words and giggles and late nights that all goes by so quickly. Early on in the first year we as parents are practically forced to look at growth and milestones and rarely do we stop and really enjoy those moments deeply on a different level. It can feel like a blur, those early years and it is but if I stop, truly stop, I see it as less of a blur and more of the simple happy moments. I would not go back but going forward I am trying harder to be aware, in the here and now, because I am so obviously aging just like them. Before long they will be pushing out the door to be away from us and spending more time with their friends then us.
I have my moments. Lord knows I do. I get so angry sometimes… ‘Listen to me, why are you whining; why on earth do you find it so funny to spit the toothpaste on the mirror THAT I JUST CLEANED?!’ I cannot fault myself for those moments. Those are honest moments that we all have. It is not always roses and sunshine. I think kids learn from that as much as anything else. We have trauma and temper tantrums and good god eat the bloody carrots they will help you see better in the dark when you are trying to sneek out to that party when you are sixteen!
This parenting gig is hard work but so worth it. It is a blessing in disguise as the saying goes. It is not what you think it will be when you start out. You are not who you believe yourself to be when first embrace your spouse and say “we are pregnant!” It is not like those damn parenting magazines try to tell you how to be. None of it is what you expect… it is better and sometimes it is worse but in all it is an amazing transforming experience.
Eight years ago if you asked me about parenting I would have made a face at you, scowled, said “never…” Now I know it is what I was always meant to do. My kids took me down the path that was always there for me, to learn to be a better me, to learn to be more patient and calm and to care less about how clean things are (OCD be gone!), to live in the here and now because it so very fleeting. My kids are amazing and beautiful and brilliant little creatures, just as all parents think their kids are! Every parent I meet beams about their child, how advanced and amazing that child is. And they are, in our eyes, they are.
Parenting is about a lot of things but more and more I am finding it is about pride. This is the hardest job anyone will do, ever, but if we do it with pride accompanied by compassion and happiness and we can learn to leave our egos at the door, wow, what we can all gain from this parenting gig! Enjoy the moments, they are fleeting. Do not rush through it all. Take it one day at a time. Temper frustration with laughter. Review my actions, determine how I can do it better next time. Sit quietly, watch and enjoy as best I can. Do not overachieve for my kids, let them find their own pathways. Stay away from helicopters, they are harmful or better yet do not compare my kids or myself to other kids/parents. We are all doing a fine job. We are all in this together!
I am a mother and I so proud of that fact.