I was enjoying a rare Saturday morning out with two of my favorite women, Leona-babe in tow, sipping wickedly good hot chocolate when a friend-of-my-friend stopped by to say hello. Her twin five year old boys were advocating for their own chocolate stash and her twelve year old daughter, cup in hand, wandered the store in tall boots, looking elegant and mature. It came out that she had a nineteen year old as well and I laughed asking her how and why she managed to keep going with more kids after she had survived the era of diapers. She smiled and said, "As crazy as it sounds, I actually love this thing called parenthood."
My own heart burst with gratitude as this woman spoke so clearly feelings I have been trying to articulate lately. Yes, my friends, we do love parenthood.
Lately, I have been using the word "survival" to describe family life with the three littles, but really, we are surviving moments and living full-on days. There are moments of such light, love, and learning that I find myself head over heels infatuated with living.
You see, the first snow has come and my daughter, who has been waiting practically all year to build a snowman, bundled herself up with such enthusiasm and so radiantly beamed post-snowman building that I now remember why we crave winter in New England.
And my son, that smiler of the first degree, took a bite of a treat in the library today and couldn't believe his good fortune of eating something filled with sugar so he started laughing and laughing. I know this feeling well.
And sweet baby, awake and seeing, laying on the floor and smiling as her siblings come to snuggle her in the morning and ask to hold her before they go to sleep.
These brief moments, followed up with meltdowns and dirty dishes, have softened me while making me dig deep for an idea of what it means to be myself and to be with others as they are learning, growing, and keeping love alive.
As I grow older, I am more aware of how many ways there are to do life. I could not have imagined my twenties the way they are turning out, yet I am positively tickled by the adventure. My twenties have also rocked me by showing me life's fragility and the strength necessary to seek joy. There are many ways that I could have and can find happiness and curiosity. I'm grateful that I relish the choices I have made so far in my living. I have yet to find my grace when dealing with tantrums and boxes full of stuff, but I am learning to step back and be grateful.
Number three has taken the edge off of parenting for me. I'm a better parent of three than I was of one. There are still moments of feeling incapable of moving forward, however, it often feels as if the increased chaos is helping me to work with the chaos in life. Letting go is paired with earnest living. The messy kitchen is paired with good eating. And I love to eat.
Please don't feel sorry for me when you see me walking down the sidewalk, carseat in one hand, the 18 month old in another, and the 3 year old trailing behind us. If you can, offer to carry the carseat (I will love you forever), but know that we are loving this thing called family. The highs and lows are kicking out butts. We are addicted and we are growing. And although the carseat is heavy, it is full with this being who slows me down, thrills me, and is my ultimate perspective-giver.
You see, as crazy as it sounds, I actually love this thing called parenthood