While there are so many little mistakes I must have made as a parent, for me it’s the bigger picture, worrying about the future too much and too often, where I might have missed the mark. Sometimes I find myself with those wistful, dreaded “IF only” thoughts. Why couldn’t I have been truly present in that 5:00 AM play period (having given up on returning to sleep) with my cheerful, chubby, son who NEVER complained about his double ear infections? I recollect him quietly humming “Old MacDonald”, playing with his farm animals, and sitting happily at the side of his mother who was guzzling coffee. I wonder if, instead of worrying about how I was going to get through the day, the week, motherhood in general, I could have put my worries aside and been more “in the moment.” Perhaps then maybe this very precious memory wouldn’t be so blurry and absolutely feel as if it was over in the blink of an eye.
Once, at the height of exhaustion and severe sleep deprivation I read a passage written by a thoughtful and philosophical mother. Her thoughts stayed with me throughout my 22 years of mothering. She compared the stages of parenthood to the seasons of nature. She used the metaphor of a person suffering from weariness or even depression over a harsh and long winter to a mother coping with a difficult stage in her own child’s life. At the time, I specifically identified with this concept….that point in a dark and dreadful winter when you wake up feeling low and have trouble imagining the warmth of the sun and an outdoor scene bursting with rebirth. And then, miraculously, without you actually doing anything, spring arrives and it’s just as impossible to actually recall how and why you felt that desperate. The whole ordeal is over in a blink of an eye and you didn’t or couldn’t have really done anything to bring on the change.
Today I have two children who are well on their way to becoming responsible, independent, thoughtful adults and I am so grateful. With one more adolescent at home, I am relearning the lesson about the seasons. This time as a mom, I worry less and listen more. I laugh more at the absurdities of teen-hood and finally I waste less time thinking about where things are going and how my youngest daughter will turn out. I don’t consider what it means to be a “cool mom” but rather pray each day to be a present and loving mom. Its paradoxical that I frequently have this instinctive sense that spring is coming and that my daughter is in the midst of a metamorphosis. I remind myself often that this is my last chance to enjoy the privilege of walking alongside a developing human soul.
Tomorrow’s post is …Better Off Being Worse Off?