Once, I was walking through a department store and the baby was in his newborn seat, the others were ages two and four in the back of the shopping cart. And when your kids are this age and you are anywhere in public it is super scary. At any moment one of them could start crying, which could set another one off, or they could start arguing or squealing for that cereal filled with marshmallows. And when more than one at a time is crying/screaming it feels like absolute, uncontrollable chaos and that it could lead to the very.end.of.the.world. At least the cart contains them. Thank God for the shopping cart.
Anyway, as I rushed through the store this vision of a beautiful, older Caucasian woman with silver hair, tanned skin and bright lipstick walking toward me. She wore an embroidered Mexican housedress, just bursting with the colors of Latin America. She had a bright smile, and as she walked past me and saw my kids in the cart , she looked right at me and said "BLESS YOU! GOD. BLESS. YOU."
It was an actual blessing, I felt the energy she sent me and I knew she understood. She understood the pressure of this chapter of life I was in, even if I didn't understand it. Her recognition made the pressure I was constantly managing- or ignoring- surface, and I started crying, my eyes brimming with tears. I choked back a cry and briskly wiped away tears right there, as I rapidly pushed the cart full of kids through the store. I have thought of that woman and her words many times.
I know she must have raised a handful of kids herself and she remembers, she knows.
I have noticed that very few other moms express the stress they are under. I thought that maybe they could afford lots of babysitters and nanny's and I could not. I thought it must be that they had super supportive partners and I did not. I thought that they do not have a problem with yelling, they did not grow up in a household like mine, where everyone yelled instead of spoke. But no, I think moms, in general, don't talk about it. It's like, we know we are screwing up, but we are totally new to this thing and we really are doing the best that we can.
And we are still IN IT, ya know? It's super easy to talk about a hard time you have been through AFTER it has passed. It is easy to talk about a weakness you USED to have in the past, now that you have mastered it. But, in the middle of the storm? It's like, you don't even know if you will make it through the storm, yet! Maybe you will crash and burn, here. Who knows?!
What really helps me is to remember it is a chapter in my life. A really intense chapter. It is not forever. It is a couple of years, a few years, maybe, when they are really tiny and needy. And, "This, too, shall pass".
And you know what? It ALL will pass. The bad and the good. The challenges and the victories. The frustrations and the joys. So whenever I can, I relish and deeply enjoy the sweet moments.
...Like today I watched my seven year old son, with his front tooth missing and his tan skin glistening, as he skipped and laughed and played at the splash park. The hot, hard sun was shining bright and he was skipping like a baby goat though the fountains, his bright, toothless smile lighting up my whole world. I silently watched him and thought, wow, SEVEN years. He has been my son for seven years. And, in another seven years he will be14, too cool for school, with headphones on and zits dotting his beautiful face, all lanky and awkward and telling me to leave him alone.
It was one of those moments that I wasn't distracted on my phone, but fully present, my chest bursting with gratitude for this little dude who I love more than my own life.
Enjoy their wet kisses and love.
Enjoy their fat cheeks.
Enjoy that they still fit in your lap.
Laugh, laugh laugh!
Laugh at their silliness.
See their plump, stout legs and taught, round tummies.
Listen to the secrets whispered in your ear.
Feel their heartbeat when they snuggle you.
They will never love you in this way again.
You are their all.
You are their world.
*photo credit Parenting Beyond Punishment