This morning as I sat at the kitchen table, exhausted and searching for freshly brewed strength in the bottom of my coffee cup, I could hear my two oldest children upstairs laughing and running from room to room. Suddenly, their laughter was cut short and replaced by angry yells and stomps. I paused, mid sip, waiting for the house to explode.
“MUUUUUM!” my 5 year old son bellowed. “Isaac PEED on me!!”
I sighed and gave up all hope of enjoying the rest of my coffee while it was still hot. As I steeled myself to take on what was likely turning into an all-out brawl, my daughter suddenly spilled her milk all over the kitchen floor. A sob bubbled up from inside her and burst forth with such devastating sorrow that my own heart began to ache. My calm, tranquil morning had been shattered by pee, tears and spilled milk. Such is life now with young children. Quiet moments that I claim as my own are often snatched away like wisps of a dream as we are pulled from sleep.
I signed up for this, I remind myself. My children, my husband; this family that I helped create. Yet, some days I find myself admitting that this life that gives me such immeasurable happiness, is also the very thing that sometimes drags me under. If you were to see my pictures and posts on social media, I’m sure my life would appear perfect, but I feel so far from perfect it’s almost laughable. It’s not that I am trying to fool anyone, I just prefer to highlight and celebrate my family’s successes rather than focus too much on the uncomfortable heaviness I sometimes feel. Parenting is a confusing blend of unexpected difficulty, and astonishingly sweet joy. I often wonder if I have what it takes to balance it all, and to be the mother that my children need me to be.
I remind myself though in times like this that I am stronger than I believe, and I ask myself to not second guess that strength, because I have managed to create a family so heartbreakingly beautiful it sometimes hurts. I have built a safe and loving world in which our family shines and thrives. There have been bumps and bruises, mistakes and regrets, but they are ours, and we are stronger for it.
And so, this morning, as my children yelled, fought and cried, I slowly pushed back my chair from the table, took one last fortifying sip of coffee, then sloshed my way through pee, tears and spilled milk to begin the process of healing the hurts of the ones I love. I have come to realize now that I draw strength from life’s challenges, and take comfort in the life I now live because of them.