Honesty, the last couple of months have been rough. Nothing dramatic has happened. To be honest, I think it’s mainly because I hadn’t been sleeping well. Not sleeping well eventually led to me not perceiving and processing and dealing well. It made everything look more negative than it needed to be.
I guess the real truth is that being a mom to littles can be hard. It can be chaotic. It can be exhausting. It can try your patience.
And I’m not alone in that. Sometimes I feel like my children are the only ones who are disrespectful. I have this idea in my head that all the other children in the world joyfully (or at least quietly) pick up their toys because they have an honest desire to respect their treasures. I tend to believe that other children don’t want to go on technology too much and don’t roll their eyes when they are cut off from the television. I imagine that they all joyfully eat their veggies and don’t try to sneak cookies.
And I think we can all have these delusions. We can see the grass as being greener in someone else’s playroom. That is, until we listen to the stories of others.
After almost a decade of parenting and (almost) four decades of living, one thing I’ve learned is that community and sharing are the only true ways to break out of the mindset that other people have it better or easier. Honest conversation is the great equalizer because it teaches us that our stories are all very similar and are struggles mirror one another even when our circumstances differ and our strengths and weaknesses are varied.
I had the opportunity to have a long talk with some wonderful women a few nights back, and I was reminded of this fact, and I almost had to laugh at how very easy it is for me to forget that we are all stuck in the mud some days and we all feel like we are struggling.
I was also reminded by a friend of another idea. The idea that a lot of our struggle comes from our expectations. I expect my children to act like little adults, and as such, I get frustrated when they don’t. I expect calm in a chaotic world, and I wonder what is wrong when it doesn’t happen.
And the problem with living in a world of false expectations is that it robs us of our ability to react because instead of problem solving, we are sitting in the middle of a mess, screaming “why?”.
I’ve been reading On Pilgrimage by Dorothy Day. She reminded me that to focus on these struggles is to obscure the whole picture. Because you know what? Parenting is hard. But it’s even more beautiful.
I got to stay up late last night with Magoo watching Harry Potter — it was her first time watching any of the movies. She was wrapped in a blanket, and she was so very excited. She thrives on personal time with people she loves. She is exquisitely kind and thoughtful. She’s helpful. She’s responsible. She’s beautiful.
And then there’s my Goose. She’s still a little bundle full of passion. She’s missing her two front teeth and that’s about the only thing in the universe that could make her glowing smile even more adorable. Luckily she’s not missing adult teeth like some of her other sisters because it seems to be her mission to get every tooth as wiggly as possible. The Tooth Fairy may go broke.
And there’s my Mae. She’s been struggling a bit lately, but she tries so very hard to make people happy. She spent yesterday making a crochet chain for “the mean boy” she knows to try to make him happy. She is very uncouth and unrefined, but she is one hundred percent heart. She has a voice, and she is not afraid to make it heard.
And then there’s my little Tessie. She’s becoming a trouble maker like her sisters were at this age. And they are eating it up. Every single thing she does is hysterical to them. A first child has two parents gushing over their every move. A fourth child also has three adoring sisters who thinks everything she does is new. She’s snuggly, and sweet. She smiles freely, and she’s very, very smart. Deep in the night, she’s my lack of sleep as well as my solace.
Right now they are planning a concert. One is wearing an Easter dress two sizes small, one a Hufflepuff gown. One is in her Christmas jammies and thinks it’s hysterical that Grandma might come over when she is still in them. They are scrambling for instruments, planning their songs. My ears are practically bleeding.
And yet the sound (noise ha) is beautiful. It comes from youthful enthusiasm and a desire to perform. The sound is joy and chaos and passion and not yet enough musical lessons.
The sound is real. It’s the sound of my people. My beautiful little girls who bring the life into this house. My girls who are the reason for so much that I do. The little women who watch me and learn from me and who deserve the very best of me. The people who also have to see me struggle to learn that it is okay and it is normal and that the trick is to always stand back up.
In absolutely zero ways do they make life easier. But they make it infinitely more beautiful. I am so honored to walk this journey with them.