Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Toughest

I was lucky when the boys were very little to have a very dear friend right by my side going through all of the ages and stages of first-time parenthood. We would spend hours on the phone discussing sleep solutions, baby food, Elmo and yes, laundry (this was back in the day before everyone had the interwebz at their fingertips...the dark ages). Not a day went by that I didn't consult her about something...even if it was simply what to have for dinner.

Back then, in the throes of diapers and bottles and sippy cups, we always thought that someday, in the near distant future, it would get easier. Life would slow down to a manageable pace and we'd find time to breathe. When the boys went to preschool. When they went to kindergarten. When they were in elementary school life would most definitely be easier.

We were so naive.

I look at the mom in line at the grocery store, hair barely held up in a ponytail, spit up stains on her shirt and mismatched shoes, with a toddler in the basket and a baby strapped to her chest and I think, "How in the world did I survive those days?"

She soldiers on. Babies crying. Groceries falling every which way. Toddler grabbing things off the shelf.

"Can I help you?" I offer.

"Oh, I'm fine," she says, simultaneously scooping the toddler and the box of Cheerios off the linoleum floor before cooing softly to calm the baby.

I am in awe.

How did I ever do that, before the days when I drank coffee regularly, let alone push a double stoller everywhere I went?

I see people with kindergartners, experiencing the first day of school, the first school holiday concert, the first note home from the teacher. And I smile, relishing in the newness so blatantly written all over their faces as they pick up their babies in the school pick up line, smoothing hair, holding hands and marvelling at each word out of their child's mouth.

That used to be me.

I still smile and hold hands and listen, but with not-so-new ears.

I know people with older kids, going through unspeakable trials with teenagers. Yet, they too, soldier on, keeping community obligations, familial obligations, work and friend obligations while trying to piece back together a broken child who is one step away from being an adult. Gulp. It all seems so hard. So difficult. So tough. Again, I am in awe of their strength. These mothers. These parents.

And maybe that's just it, about mothering, about parenting, it is tough. There is no magical age when things become easy. They don't suddenly turn four and the rest is a piece of cake. There are no miracles when they are in school all day, or when they get done with potty training, when they have their first broken heart or when they finally learn to pick up their clothes without asking.

There is an abundant amount of joy, don't get me wrong, but if anyone tells you that it's easy, they're either lying through their teeth or suffering dementia.

3 comments:

Leigh Ann said...

I'm the one in the grocery store checkout line. (7 months, 2 years, and 3 years, not that I'm counting. :)) I say "I'm fine," even when I'm not. I'm starting to realize that the kind ladies who ask me if they can help me....well, they actually would help. If I asked.

This post made me tear up. We are all so strong. Why don't we realize it when we're in the midst of it?

Thank you. Just...thank you.

Donata said...

So well said.

Liz said...

Carrie, I love this! Hope you don't mind if I share it!