When I was a little girl, I used to dream about my life as an adult. I imagined how amazing it would be to have PRIVILEGES, RESPONSIBILITIES, and the EVENTS that adults have the joy of encountering. There was the exciting anticipation of being able to do what ever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I looked forward to being able to drive, going to college, working at a real job, dating, falling in love, planning a wedding, being married and, of course, having kids.
In my immature mind, the general life of an adult was so romantic and SO STINKING COOL. Therefore, in every moment of my life, I longed for the next season. Impatient for what was to come, certain it would far surpass the life I was currently living. In elementary school I couldn't wait to be in high school. To my high school self, college was the ultimate experience. And in college, I yearned to have a job, make money, and meet Mr. Right.
It's funny, though, that when you finally arrive at the season you so longed to be in, it never comes quite as you expected. It's harder. Weightier. There are challenges you don't expect. And sometimes you find yourself wondering why the heck you couldn't wait to be at this point in you life.
So it is with having kids.
Little girls play with their dollies, imagining the heap of clothed plastic to be the sweet cherub of a child they one day hope to conceive. They rock the doll, change the doll, feed the doll, burp the doll and put the doll to sleep. What no one ever tells these unsuspecting girls is that no doll could ever prepare them for what lies ahead in the strange and complicated world of Motherhood.
Being a parent is hard. So hard. I find myself chuckling over how I, yet again, romanticized this season of my life oh so long ago. Just like the little girl, I imagined rocking my real-life baby to sleep, feeding my baby, changing my baby and generally living the blissfully simply and content life of a mother.
Such daydreams do not come in stereo.
There is no soundtrack to these immature reveries. No crying, screaming, whining, fussing. No backtalk, babytalk, poopytalk. Nothing can prepare a parent for the immense disgustingness of the diapers they will encounter during the first 3 years of their child's life. How do you describe the feeling of not sleeping for days and nights on end, yet having to function in society like a mostly sane and sober individual?
Having just welcomed my second child into the world, I am learning how to juggle both a 2 and-a-half year old and a newborn. Two very different yet simultaneous soundtracks. On one speaker, there is the non-descript crying of a 2 month old. A baby who cannot use words to tell me what is wrong or what is needed. A baby who is completely dependent on me for everything and anything all at the same time.
Playing on the other speaker is the toddler/preschooler album. This album is completely frenetic, abruptly changing from happy-go-lucky to dark, stormy tantrums. It weaves the tale of a child who is still dependent on her mommy, but believes she is a completely independent individual. Beautiful lyrics like, "I love you," are followed by the heart-wrenching words, "NO! I do it myself! Don't talk to me! I don't like you!"
It is so complicated to balance 2 precious and fragile lives. Some days I feel like I am running up the stairs to meet the needs of one, only to sacrifice the needs of another. One goes down to sleep, while the other wakes. I calm the tears of one, and the other begins to wail. I wonder to myself daily just how much I am messing these children up.
This is not the romantic picture of motherhood I had envisioned.
So, it is hard. Harder than I could ever have thought. Some days, I want to run. To where, you ask? I have no idea. Just away from here. Some days there are tears. Harsh words. The guilt of knowing I could have done better that day. And the yearning for the Next Season.
But I must remind myself that while this season of my life is not quite how I pictured it, it is still GOOD. I am encountering challenges that I never thought I'd face. But I am also experiencing joy that I never knew existed. For every tantrum that is thrown, there is a snuggle to make up for it. For every ounce of spit up adorning my clothes, there is a smile to override it. For every ear-piercing cry, there is an adorable coo. And for every mean-spirited, boundary-testing word that is spoken, there is the most beautiful set of words to erase it:
"I love you, Mommy."
I know that the Next Season of my life will inevitably arrive. With it will come hardships to overcome and joys to fill my heart. But today, I focus on This Season. I know that every moment of NOW will make me ready for what is to come. And some day, I will look back over this season of my life, wishing I could snuggle my children's small frames, and hear the tinkle of their small laughs, and the beauty of their small voices telling me that they love me.
How are you enjoying this season of your life? Feel free to leave a comment and share!