A bittersweet pang

Yesterday, I took all three kids for a walk after school.  We've had Sawyer home for nine days and I hadn't taken all three of them out together.  I certainly had not taken them out with Marge.  She is like an amazingly high maintenance fourth child.  One that requires a walk every day or she goes bonkers.  We have had a lot of rain which means not a lot of walks.  It was inevitable, I was either going to lose my mind or just bite the bullet and do it.  So, we headed to a park where Marge can run off of her leash and expel her boundless energy.


The walk was going okay, but then Sawyer didn’t want to be in his BOBA on my back anymore.  I let him down which decreased our speed.  Next, Charlie decided that his walking stick would be better used as a “whack your older brother in the head stick.”  And then chaos ensued.   All three were crying.  I kissed the head of one, took the stick from the other and tried to soothe the third.  Marge had gotten twenty-five minutes of running, that was enough!  I half dragged Charlie towards our car since he was throwing a fit about the stick, and as we rounded the curve, we all stopped a little short.  There in the parking lot and spilling over into the entrance of the park were souped up trucks, a large party bus and tons of teens dressed for prom.  My first thought included a four-letter word. 


I took a deep breath, got Marge on her leash and we all started walking toward the mass of tuxes and sparkles.  We walked past the group of kids and I felt a bittersweet pang.  I stepped outside myself and wondered how did I get here?  How did my Friday night outing become dragging three kids for a walk with the promise of pizza afterwards?  When did I become the mom?!?  I guess what they say it true, blink and ten years( give or take a few) have passed.  I can hardly remember what it was like to be carefree. 



When I was younger, I babysat all the time and it always amazed me how grateful the parents were when I would bathe the kids, put the dishes away and make sure the house was picked up before they got home.  The moms used to say that it was so nice to come home to a clean house. I didn’t get all the hype.  Driving home I would think about having a family someday and how I wanted a bunch of kids because taking care of kids was easy.  Then I would get home, lay down in my bed, and enjoy hours of uniterrupted sleep.   So naive and ignorant.


Parenting is the hardest job I have ever done. The shift lasts twenty-four hours, all three hundred and sixty-five days of the year.  Some days I wonder what I was thinking, picking this.  But I did pick it.  Eight years ago we decided to try for a baby and thirteen months later we were given the gift of Greyson.  Then five years later, after fighting tooth and nail, we were given the gift of Charlie.  And just three weeks ago and in really  unexpected ways, we were given the gift of Sawyer.  All three are true gifts, not really mine, but given to me to steward.  It’s a humbling thought.  One I don’t always remember to be grateful about.


There are days when I forget to let the seven-year-old be seven by telling another “hilarious” fart joke, quoting sports facts and asking me to watch just one more trick.  I forget that the three-year-old is just three.  The things he gets so worked up about are relative to his stage of life, his little hands are capable and strong but only so big and still require a lot of guidance.  The baby, so sweet but constantly taking apart drawers, emptying contents of cupboards or whatever else he can get his pudgy hands on.  I forget that he is learning, discovering his world by touch.  All I can think about some days is how many hours until bedtime.  When will I get a few minutes of quite and reminiscing, as I did the other night at the park, about being young and free? 


But that young and free was just a season, a gift of youth.  And this too is just a season.  These days, which are filled with messes and tears, but also giggles and silliness.  Just a season.  I am certain that in reflecting on my life today and thinking, "Wasn't I just the one getting ready for prom not too long ago?"  That in a flash, I will think back to these current days with fondness and also a bittersweet pang.  My oldest had some questions about the teenagers dressed up and I told him that in a few short years when he was in high school, he would get to go to prom.  And oh my goodness, he will.  How can that be? 


So this season of constantly being needed, of lack of sleep, of stepping on legos and trying to keep my patience but also one of open mouth, slobbery baby kisses, being given dandelion bouquets and reading bedtime stories to soapy-scented little bodies.  This exhausting season is a gift.  Today especially,  I am incredibly grateful to the One who gives me these gifts.  For His faithful love and care for me so that I can love and care for mine. 


This mom gig is not always so pretty, but it is beautiful.

Whatever season of motherhood you're in:  Happy Mothers Day!