Families usually begin with a sweet and captivating love story that somewhere along the way grows to include extra people...really short people...kids. From that moment on, life gets complicated and legs get hairy (as shaving falls by the wayside). Kids make life crazy, but somehow it's not just the kids who turn life on its head...parents are crazy makers too! There's something about parenthood that turns all us adults into insane circus jugglers.
The crazy-making usually starts with the arrival of an amazingly precious baby, who brings along his/her little friend, "sleep deprivation". Getting less than 4 hours of sleep, night after night, can unravel even the hardiest of night owls. Then as morning breaks, we parents attempt the impossible: we drag our pathetic, lifeless bodies out of bed and pretend to be alert and friendly.
Then baby grows and maybe more babies come (or they don’t) but very loosely, in the words of Spiderman: with age comes great responsibility. Which really means: as the baby ages, the parent's responsibility grows A LOT. There are school schedules, sports schedules, homework assignments, doctor’s appointments, youth group meetings, play dates, scouts…and that’s just the scheduling stuff. That list doesn't even include the emotional or spiritual development of the child or the parent finding time to read a fun little book at bedtime. And then there's still the task of earning a living and running a household. We convince ourselves (and the family) that all the scheduling busyness is super FUN and important for college...and other nondescript stuff and someday they’ll thank us for all their experiences. Right??? But in reality, all this unnatural bending and contorting, trying to fit it all in, juggling...it feels a bit like punishment. Life is bonkers!!
In spite of all the insanity, all of us parents are parents on purpose. Maybe "on purpose" is the wrong description for how it all started, but it ended up on purpose. Some of us even started out convinced that we'd NEVER be parents, because as a spectator, it looked CRAZY (because it is!). But then that little, tiny body...those fingers and that itty bitty nose and those lips. Suddenly captivated by that little person, you're heart swelled and you felt IT...that overwhelming, indescribable "parent love". Right then and there, in that profoundly supernatural moment, the choice was a firm, "YES".
Parenting changes a person forever! I’m positive that it’s reshaped and possibly corrupted my hearing. I know this because EVERY time I switch on my blow dryer, I swear I can hear the shrill screams and cries of my children. “Ahhhhhhh….Mommmmmm….” As hair flies everywhere and air whooshes around my ears, I’m convinced that what I hear beneath the roar of the dryer is their desperate need for me. I fear that they’re either mortally wounded or maybe they just really want a snack…and it’s brought them to tears, screams and puppy-ish yelps. Either way, they urgently need me! Each time, when I’m sure that some little (or not so little) voice is calling, I quickly switch off the dryer and listen…but all I hear is silence. OK (that was a huge exaggeration) maybe not silence, but definitely not desperation or need. There’s no crying, calling, freakish screeching. I’ve come to accept that all this grotesque howling is in my mom head and ears. It’s a mom thing…one of the side effects of parenthood.
Having children is difficult, amazing, terrifying, beautiful and sometimes horrible all at the same time. All us parents would likely agree that it'd be nice to be able to take a little vaca from parenting for a day or so...maybe disappear to a deserted island where there'd be freedom to pee and poo in peace. No little body there to burst in on us while our pants are down around our ankles, and maybe theirs are too. It'd also be nice to maybe think a complete thought without hearing, "mom, mom, mom, mom, mom...MOMMMMM!"
Yes, of course there’s a lot of joy and love, but what most parents don’t say is that there’s also a good amount of downers that comes with the territory. They pops up from time to time. Sometimes they linger a bit. And oddly, even after the most terrible of days; where your toddlers (or 5 year old) lays flat on the floor, publicly unraveled in the middle of Target (for NO reason), it's somehow possible for a parent to gaze upon that sleeping crazy one (a mere hour later), and only see an angel. And this is the beauty of parenthood.
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.