Every time I wanted to have a baby…from the first, to the fourth…Todd would ask me the same question…
“What will we do with it?”
I would laugh at his silliness…his implication that parenting would be complicated. I’d say wonderfully naïve things like…
“We’ll just LOVE it!!”
Yeah. That was my parenting philosophy. “Love is all we need.” I was obviously thinking of adorable, snuggly little bundles smelling of Baby Magic with a perfect little rosebud mouth. Even thinking of it now makes me go all mushy inside.
I was obviously not thinking of sleepless nights, vomit on the bed/carpet/me, scary temper tantrums, night terrors or endless piles of laundry.
I was not thinking of doctor appointments, dentist appointments, haircut appointments, or teacher conference appointments.
I was not thinking of having ‘The Talk’, answering questions about words that make even me blush (something I don’t think is easy to do), helping with homework, teaching them to drive, or having to carefully calculate and plan when my husband and I could sneak in some intimacy without being ‘caught’ and scarring our children forever.
I was not thinking of having to figure out how to pay for tuition, music lessons, little league, birthday presents for 20 friends per kid (who said these children could have so many friends anyway?!?), field trips, or school activities…in addition to the rising cost of food, clothing and shelter for these ever-growing bodies!
I was not thinking of running in 4 directions, occasionally at the same time, on the same day, to taxi them to orchestra/band/musical/baseball…or any other given activity, and how nearly impossible and utterly draining this seemingly simple task can be.
I was not thinking of these kinds of words that I cannot believe I hear myself uttering, like…
“Do you not see the snow outside? No, you may not play outside in shorts!!”
“Please stay off the roof, and don’t play with knives until dad or I gets back.”
(Do you understand the implication of that statement? We let our children play on the roof, and with knives!! Good grief!)
I was not thinking of cuts, scrapes, fevers, sprains, stitches, allergies, migraines or surgery. (All unrelated to the roof or the knives, I promise!!)
I was not thinking of the countless hours of teaching, correcting, discussing, question-answering, imploring, encouraging, apologizing, worrying…and praying.
I was not thinking of the self-directed anger, frustration and sense of personal failure for not doing a ‘better job’ at all of the aforementioned.
Today, this week, this month, in particular…I feel the weight of all the things I didn’t think of pressing intensely in on me, and I’m wondering how on earth to function in other areas of life, (like jobs and ministry and socializing) because couldn’t we all (moms AND dads!) spend every waking hour (and some non-waking ones too!) pouring into, cultivating and helping our kids grow? Yes, I do think we could. It’s a daunting, beyond expressing adequately with words task.
And in these moments, I find the best thing to do is…
Just remember my original plan.
“We’ll just love them.”
Because sometimes I miss appointments, overlook important emails, we arrive late to practices, and I forget to send lunches and permission slips. I’m so not perfect (or even really good!) at this. All too often I get wrapped up and overcome by this reality.
But today, I decided, I’m going to focus on the one thing I will say that I’ve nailed…one goal that I’ve met.
Today I resolve to enjoy them. I will be thankful for baseball laundry, and look forward to ‘Little League Opening Day’. I will shuttle kids to musical practice and beam with pride at all their talent and guts to get up and perform in front of hundreds of people. I will stand up and “woot woot!!” the loudest at the curtain calls. I will congratulate them on good grades, and tell them “It’s ok as long as you did your best” on the not-so-good ones. I will put out of my mind the to-do list and remind myself that I’ve been too distracted, and that to-do list will never be gone, but one day these kiddos will be…and I will choose to not miss these moments.
And I will feel good about accomplishing what I set out to do…
“Just love them!!”