. . . I’ve learned from my kids. Everything.
I’ve learned how to live. I’ve re-learned how to love. I’ve learned how to hold my tongue and I’ve learned that sometimes I let my crazy out a little too long. I’ve learned how to laugh and how to suppress one when they’ve done something “naughty but good Lord that’s hilarious”. I learned how to hold my face in just the right way so as not to cry when Gabe broke his arm… because momma needed to be tough but gah. I just wanted to bawl. I’ve learned that expensive toys are fun.. but blanket fort Fridays are the best. I’ve learned that they haven’t had all the learning time that I’ve had and that I need to be a little more patient. How to read a book with at least five different silly voices. How to sing songs over and over just so they’ll have sweet dreams. How to be tough. How to let up. How to be a mom and how to let my kids be kids… although, that is admittedly a work in process. That said, I’ve learned more in 5.5 years than I had in 21. And to say it’s been informative, hectic, and humbling? That’s putting it lightly.
My kids, man. They’re nuts. And they make me nuts. Like, with the-fire-of-a-thousand-suns crazy. Or cray. Or whatever the kids are calling chaos these days.
I am most definitely not a typical mom. In fact, I’m the least maternal kind of mom I’ve ever known. I can be crazy impatient and shockingly distant seeming. I detest shrill noises (hurts my ears like you wouldn’t believe) and, to be honest, before I had kids I had only met a handful of ankle biters that I genuinely liked. I love babies in all their sweet little ways and cuddles and coos. But babies grow into tiny heathens and have more energy than I could ever have. And it’s not that I don’t like them. It’s that I don’t know what to do with them. You know… being the “old soul” that I am, and such.
At any rate… I have these two mad-chaotic little guys who make me nuts and tired. And just when I think I’m about to lose every ounce of sanity I have left, one of them does something crazy-sweet that makes me fall in love with them all over again. And harder than I had before. Love, love, love, love… crazy love. And I think that’s the beauty of this parenting thing. I do. I think parents, even the not-so-great-at-it kind like me, have this innate gift inside of them. That no matter how disappointed or angry we are at the moment… there’s always the moment after. Always the reminder. And it’s not always a fuzzy feeling kind of reminder, either. No. Sometimes, it’s a cold, hard fact reminder. Sometimes, it’s an eye-opener. Sometimes… sometimes, it’s a blast to the past that reminds us of our own former, and even present, ways. It is for me, anyway. I see the kids making the same mistake I very vividly remember making myself occasionally and I scream to myself, “Oh my God… there’s the gene pool.” And it is. But in those moments, I eventually find peace and wisdom. And a
little lot of humility. And I can calm down.. and calm them down.. and reassure them that, “Hey. I’m a little disappointed. And that’s okay. Because you’re mine. And I’m with you. And you’re with me. Always.”
I ask myself to ask God on a regular basis why. Why was I given these kids with these particular problem sets? Why do I never seem to be going in the right direction or doing the right thing? Why do I stammer over my words and flip-flop around like I’ve no brain at all? Why??? And before I can even ask him all the why’s… it flies at me. Because no matter how frustrating or humbling or fearsome parenting can be… it really is a gift. Every time one of the boys hug me for absolutely nothing at all. Every hand-print picture (I’ve kept them all. Every one of them). Every kiss, every “I need you”, every blessing at dinnertime when Gabe says, “God is grace, God is grace, let us thank him for our food”…. everything. No matter how horrible I feel. No matter how enraged I’ve been. No matter the broken dish or the spilled milk or the fight over the toy. It all sucks. But, then again, it’s all good.
I’m hard on my boys. And I’m hard on them for good reason. Sometimes, I am too hard. And I hate it. I do, truly. But I want them to grow up capable. I want them to grow up smart and independent and motivated and determined. Not scared, like me. Not timid and bashful and silent like me. I want them to use their voices; I want them to use their minds and vision. I expect them to grow up to work for their life — not to make their life, but so they might have one worth living. To see the world.. to experience and learn, always. To have a “can do” attitude. So that one day, they won’t be like their momma.. terrified to walk into a freshman course on their own. Terrified to speak to a cashier. Scared to death to move.
That’s how I was until I held my boys. Scared of the world. Scared to live. Until I held their little bodies in my arms. And all that fear hit me and then began to fade away. When the boys took their first breath, they gave me a life I never knew. Each gave me a key to my whole new life. And so every morning I wake up. I roll out of bed and begin the monotony that is adult life. Not out of obligation. But out of desire. So they can hold their dreams… not just wish for them. And I’ll be the first to tell you, 5 A.M. sucks. It blows. And so does rush hour. And people who melt chocolate into their copiers (yep. that happened). And temper tantrums. And blow-out diapers. And eating dinner at 8 o’clock. And the list goes on, and on, and on. But my life would suck all the more if I did not have my crazies. If I didn’t have someone to come home to every night. If I didn’t have someone who needed me so hard. I waited a long time for someone to need me… not knowing that was what I needed.
So, all you tired and exasperated mommas out there thinking you cannot possibly handle one more tantrum in Target or one more blow-out at the self check out? Or, “Why on earth are the fish sticks sticking to the non-stick pan and could you please, please, please stop whining?!” I’m with you. A hundred and ten percent. But you’re doing fine. And, hey — therapy might not even be a thing in eighteen years. So just hang in there. Do your best. Say you’re sorry when you should and hold firm when they need it. And when the clock strikes bedtime, pour yourself a drink and know that I’m downing one, too. Only one, though… because my kids have all the grace of a peg-legged goat on ice. But that’s alright…. because they’re worth it. Every last bit.
Happy Mother’s Day.