Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wisdom for the ages, on motherhood, from a man, no less.

I received a comment on my last post from marianne that said:

Thank you so much for your perspective! We're expecting #7 and I am desperately overwhelmed. It's good to remember that at some point I will look back and miss these times.

And with that, I wanted to hasten to add to the mothers of young children, that even though I long for those days in theory, I wouldn't really want to do them all over again. It was achingly exhausting, to the point of tears frequently, and there was no earthly way I could do all I needed to do well. It was triage every day. Fact of the matter is, it is still triage every day, but now I am more used to it, and do not take it personally.

Here is a story to elucidate the point I am trying to make. Approximately six years ago, when I had six small children eight and under, every time I went out with them all I would either get the, "are they all yours", or, "you have your hands full", or the completely exasperating, "Oh how I wish my kids were still that age. Enjoy them, these are the best years!". My heart would sink. Really? Honestly? The best years? I can barely form coherent sentences, I haven't slept in three years, and I feel like every last nerve has put in it's two week notice, and these are THE BEST YEARS?? God help me, or take me now, whichever. Because that really depressed me.

Then one day, I had all the kidlets with me at the hardware store, looking for a Christmas gift for their dad. I was gritting my teeth, speaking softly but promising dire consequences to any child trying to escape or touching anything, feeling like maybe a pack of light bulbs would do so I could get me and this circus out of the store. A 60ish man (man, not woman, notice), walked over to me, and I thought, "Here we go, he's going to tell me we should get a T.V., or that he's staring at a million dollars of education in that shopping cart", or some other nugget of wisdom I had heard before.

He gazed into my eyes, paused, gave a slight, sympathetic, knowing smile, and said,

"These years are much better as memories."

Then he walked away. I think he was my guardian angel, because ever since that day, I realize that the cuteness of children can not be outdone, but Praise God that when we look back, the bad stuff fades. The good stuff sticks. And THAT, my friends, is why every mother with grown children long for the sweetness of the past. I don't think anyone in their right mind would do those years over again if the TRULY remembered what they were like.

So, please know that if I HAD to do it over again, I would probably be just as exhausted, but I would relax about the "little stuff." I would write down more about them as they grew, and I would ASK FOR MORE HELP.

Other than that, there is no easy way out of this parenting thing. I love the life I have now, and I think that much of my sadness is simply the acknowledgment that my life is passing. My time is finite on this earth, and my children growing up are a daily reminder of my life oozing out of me. The other part of the sadness is just that children are so very innocent and have such a pure joy about them. And try as you might, you cannot prevent that from being lost in your children as they grow up.

So to wrap this up, please know that I appreciate the overwhelm and fatigue of you moms with small children, and in no way am trying to guilt anyone into loving every minute of it. I appreciate that I have more time for other pursuits now, I appreciate my children as I watch their personalities unfold (sometimes more so than others), and I love getting to take showers uninterrupted.

But while you have the little ones, love them up, but good.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Renee. I sent your last post to my sister, who has 6 children. (25, 23, 20, 17, 14 and 3) (she's 54 years old - adopted her last one from Guatemala). She emailed me back and said she was in tears.

I'm going to send her THIS one today...

God love you both. You helped to replace those of us who were only able to have 1 or 2 children - or none, for that matter!

May 25, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE this post! What a wise man! My kids are ages 6-20 and I do miss those days, kind of. But I also appreciate the time and freedom to do more things that I enjoy. I also appreciate the relationships with my older kids. Now if they would just all stay close instead of moving away...

May 25, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sweetums is 12 and it seems that time is passing so quickly...

May 26, 2008  
Blogger Karen Deborah said...

beautiful and wise.

May 26, 2008  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Wow, both these last posts really touched me. I know what you mean about the years are better as memories. I can look back at the crazy time it was when my third was a baby and one. At the time it was all I could do to get through the day until I could pass him off to my husband when he walked in the door. yes he is still hard now, but so much better than he was.
I was trying to describe how bad those days were to someone recently and I can almost laugh about it now. My youngest is almost 4 and I am at the point of having everyone be able to buckle themselves, use the bathroom, feed themselves, dress themselves, etc. It is wonderful in a way, but it is a new role to adjust into not having someone to depend so much on you and not having a baby to hold. Thanks for these posts!

May 26, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

Amen. This is why I try to blog mostly the good stuff. I don't want to hold on too tightly to the bad memories (just enough so that I don't forget it wasn't easy, but not enough that I re-live the emotions).

May 27, 2008  
Blogger Renee said...

Hi Michelle. Did you get your card?

May 27, 2008  
Blogger erin said...

I love this post. Thanks, Renee.

May 27, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

Renee, I did get the card. Thank you. I tucked it into my calendar so when I move I'll have something to "decorate" my motel room with.

May 28, 2008  
Blogger rita said...

you made me cry!! thanks for reaching me where I am right now...tired, overwhelmed and pregnant! ;0

June 02, 2008  
Blogger Renee said...

Wow! Many congratulations, veronica, on your new wee one. I'll add you to my prayer list of expecting moms. Blessings!!

June 04, 2008  

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