After 6 weeks away with their dad, my sweet children are finally home.
Now what do you think I’m going to say next?
Here’s how I pictured it in my mind:
Hubby and me standing at the end of the jetway at the airport and the boys running in slow motion toward us. Everyone in tears. Warm embraces and huge smiles. The children happily chatting about how much they missed us, and so many hugs and kisses! The next few days are blissful. Fun outings. Lots of snuggles. Laughing, talking, and just basking in each others’ presence!
Here is reality:
Hubby and I race to the airport and get caught up at security. The boys, already off the plane, are waiting at the gate when we arrive. I call out to them, waving wildly across the terminal. They turn my direction, acknowledge me with virtually blank stares, and then submit to stiff hugs.
At baggage claim I attempt more hugs but am swatted away like a fly, accompanied by ‘too-cool-for-Mom’ type attitudes. On the way home the little stinkers inform me that they are no longer interested in the summer schedule we set before they left.
Day one is … very long. In essence, husband returns home to find me looking like a deer in the headlights … or perhaps headed for the insane asylum? Child one is banging loudly on the piano. Child two is sitting in time out on the stairs, wailing his eyes out, because he just punched child one. We have been up since 6 a.m. and it has just been that kind of day … all day.
I have not been a parent for 6 weeks. And suddenly I remember: I love my kids. No doubt! But being a full-time mom is REALLY HARD WORK!
The Body Machine
Like many of us around the world, festivities and competitions broadcast from Rio have filled my home over the past week.
Today I watched the gold medalist in cycling finish her race. At the end, she got off her bike, asked her coach, “Did I win?” and then went and laid down on the ground next to her bike. Gasping for breath, she practically rocked herself back and forth and pulled her exhausted body into the fetal position.
And I thought … Yeah. I know that feeling. That’s a little bit how PARENTING feels sometimes!
Each day, as I watch these athletes reach farther than seems humanly possible, I continually ask myself …
Why do we do this? Members of the human race, I mean?
Why do we do hard things?
The Little Bug
Remember the caterpillars my boys and I captured this Spring? As it turns out Catti (you know … “Catti” the caterpillar), the one who worked the hardest on her cocoon, did indeed survive her ordeal and flutter away on the wind.
Catti was a tough little bug, and of the 5 (or 6?) creepy crawlers we fed and watched in our bug houses, she was the only one who made it all the way through her metamorphosis.
So maybe she didn’t turn out to be a big beautiful butterfly (actually, just a little brown moth). But watching the process was a small miracle nonetheless.
Now … You might be thinking … What do motherhood and olympic athletes have to do with creepy crawly bugs? But comparing these experiences reminds me that: big or small, we can all do hard things. Also, something that seems trivial to one of us might be very significant to another.
Recently I have seen several examples of this among my parents and my siblings, and even in my own life.
For some reason, many of my loved ones are in the midst of gigantic transitions right now. It’s as if we’ve all been inside a big bubble, and someone picked it up and shook it.
The funny thing is … most of the transitions are wonderfully amazing GOOD things. But nonetheless we are all feeling a bit rocked and trying to find our footing at the moment.
And we are all doing hard things.
New jobs, surgeries, cross-country moves, new babies (including a set of twins), a wedding, and kiddos starting kindergarten are all in the mix. And that isn’t even a complete list!
It’s fascinating to step back for a minute and ponder about each family member and how they are coping with these enormous life changes.
Like a little caterpillar changing into a common moth, things like this happen every day. But when we stop to think about it, the determination it takes to conquer a new job or a create a family is no less miraculous than a fat squirmy bug growing wings and flying away.
Entering a new workplace takes courage.
Packing everything we own, leaving our home behind, and striking out into a new place requires a sense of adventure.
Labor and delivery are a miracle beyond description–not to mention the lifelong process of raising healthy, successful children.
I could go on, but I think you get the gist.
But what’s the point?
Why do olympic swimmers train so hard, just to beat each other by 0.03 seconds?
Why do little bugs like Catti labor over half a lifetime, just to change into another common moth?
And why do we bother doing hard things like competing in the olympics or creating families or moving across the country or going to work every day … or even getting up in the morning for that matter? (Remember, everyone’s definition of “hard things” is different!)
I don’t know if I can answer these questions for everyone, only for myself.
Personally, I have decided I do hard things because …
It’s worth it!
I may not have a gold medal and I might not sprout wings, but I have a family. It’s a blended family. And it’s a work in progress. But it’s still worth fighting for.
And even though our recent airport greeting wasn’t the stuff dreams are made of … I still opened my eyes the next morning to see a little person standing at my bedside.
Each day the hugs grow warmer and a less stiff than that first day. And I remember … They are boys. They are growing. And all boys go through ‘too-cool-for-Mom’ stages, whether they are part of a blended family or not.
I remind myself to savor the little moments when my youngest lays his sleepy head on my shoulder while we’re watching the Olympics, rather than focusing on the time when my husband walked in from work into a whirlwind of piano banging and sibling rivalry.
And I think to myself about athletes and little bugs and families. Little miracles and big miracles.
And it’s worth it.