I haven’t been a mother very long (although I can hardly remember my life before kids). But my experiences thus far have taught me something huge about parenting – and in the even broader sense – about life in general. The secret about parenthood that nobody tells you is this: It’s not all pleasant, but the good will be weaved in.
Wait for it.
And then carry on.
Some days are hard. Like really hard. And sometimes, days on end are hard. It’s a baby vomiting all over me and the floor. All over the crib in the dark of the night. It’s picking up the same toys over and over and over. Putting throw pillows back on the sofa. It’s making meals and snacks, and then meals and snacks again. It’s sweeping old food off the floor, breaking up fights, cleaning tushies, answering questions, dressing people and undressing people, strapping them in car seats then taking them out, it’s laundry (oh the endless laundry!), it’s tears and whining, teaching and soothing, explaining and negotiating, heartbreak and pure joy. It’s thinking and overthinking, it’s multitasking and running on fumes. It’s work – and it’s hard work.
Before I had kids, I looked at parenting through rose colored glasses. I imagined kids that listened the first time you asked them to do something (Ha!). I imagined less tantrums and more sleep (Ha again!).
But now I know. Parenting is not always good. Sometimes I yell (and I always hate how I feel when I do). Sometimes I am impatient. Sometimes it is so hard and I am so tired that I want to be relieved from it all. Sometimes the choices and decisions and obstacles are overbearing, and then it happens. Those little moments in between it all, the little pieces that make me smile, the little morsels that carry me through the day, the little bursts of joy and satisfaction. That’s when I remember that parenting feels its best in those happy little pieces.
It’s really not balanced (or fair) at all. Some days are just tedious and relentless. Some days are wonderful and smooth. But mostly, it’s the moments in between it all that ground me. And when I think back, those are actually the moments I remember the most. Not the fighting, screaming, crying, and cleaning. It’s the highlight reel of our days. Of our weeks. Of our years. It's those moments, frozen in time.
I remember the pieces. I remember my toddlers using the word “easily” in most sentences, but using it in the wrong context nearly every time. I remember when the toddler calls the baby “sweetheart” and coos over how cute she is. I remember the times the twins hold hands and encourage each other. I remember first steps, baby voices, and when they ask to sit in my lap. I remember the first time they see snow. I remember the sheer joy over everything: band-aids, stickers, tattoos, music, desserts, hotel rooms, animals, and presents. I remember the authenticity and the passion.
These are the pieces that get me through the long haul. The days of fighting. The days of sickness. The days of fatigue. The days of monotony.
I’ve learned to settle into the work, and wait for the small pieces.