Unexpectedly Difficult Joy

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Image credit: pixabay.com

Sometimes, late at night, the soft whisper of feet on the floor gently pulls me from sleep as one of the children appears by my bed, groggy, disoriented, and asking to climb in.  I silently lift the covers and shift slightly to allow a warm, tiny body to curl up next to mine.  Wrapping my arms around the little person next to me, I feel their heart beating wildly in their chest.  I wait for it to slow, for their breathing to deepen, and then I relax knowing that whatever inner storm that woke them has passed.  Together we fall slowly and softly to sleep, drifting into dreams that swirl contentedly between us.

The sweetness of the moment is almost enough to make up for the inevitable hour when I wake up to find a foot pressed up against my cheek, followed by flailing arms, a puddle of drool, and missing sheets.

This pretty much sums up what parenting small children is like.  Heartbreakingly beautiful moments followed by pain, confusion, mess and exhaustion.  One giant ball of unexpectedly difficult joy.

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Originally posted on March 31, 2016 by Motherhood Made Me Do It

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Do You Feel Beautiful?

IMG_20170502_103040_320“You look beautiful!” my daughter exclaimed when she saw me standing in the kitchen this morning.  I was dressed in sweat pants, a baggy old sweater that had seen better days, and my hair had been hastily pulled back into a messy bun.  My body was slumped tiredly against the counter; a strong cup of coffee in one hand, cold, weak toast in the other.

“Thank you,” I said, setting my breakfast down.  I knelt down, and my soon to be 4 year old launched herself into my arms.  Her little body was still warm from sleep, and her hair held the soft, sweet smell of apples.  I pressed my lips to her forehead.  “You are beautiful too, sweetheart,” I said.

She pushed back, abruptly.  “Not yet!” she exclaimed.  “I’m not dressed in my beautiful clothes!  And my hair doesn’t have anything beautiful in it!”

“Huh,” I said, thoughtfully tilting my head to the side.  I studied her for a moment.  Golden hair cascading gently down her back, blue eyes filled with laughter and wonder, rosy cheeks flushed with the excitement of a new day.  My daughter is, in fact, quite beautiful.  Yet I didn’t rush her over to a mirror in order to point that out.  Instead, I shared a secret.

“I guess I haven’t told you about the secret to true beauty yet, have I?” I mused.

“What is it?” she gasped.

“Well,” I began.  “True beauty isn’t something you see at first.  It’s something you feel.”  My daughter looked confused, but snuggled in closer and listened intently.

“The most beautiful people in the world are kind, helpful, loving and good.  Their beauty is inside of them.  So when you meet these people, they have the kind of beauty that shines through from the inside out.  You feel good when you’re around them.  Sometimes you feel their beauty before you see it.”

“What if we put jewelry on?” my daughter asked.  “Does that make us beautiful?”

“Jewelry can be very pretty,” I said, nodding, “and it’s fun to wear, but it doesn’t make us beautiful.  It doesn’t matter what clothes we have on, or what our hair looks like.  If we are not beautiful on the inside, we can never truly be beautiful on the outside.”

My daughter thought about this for a moment while she played with a thread that was slowly unraveling from the cuff of my sweater.  “Mom?” she said, looking up at me.  “You feel beautiful to me.”

“You feel beautiful to me, too,” I said, hugging her closer.

And she is.

 

My Perfect Life Isn’t So Perfect Afterall

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.

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Fabulous Hair

I had a fabulous hair day yesterday. The kind that makes you think, “I need to go out tonight and take this awesomeness to a whole other level!” Then I remembered that I’m married with three kids, so I went to the grocery store instead.

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