This rough-and-tumble journey of growing, raising, and loving children has pushed me to my outermost limits and taught me about my own strength
I was at the end of my rope, a place I often find myself lately. Stress at work had left me frazzled, and the demands of home and the kids were draining me of my will to go on. Swirling around me were my son’s school project (which somehow became my school project), his big science test on habitats (again, my test), the rush of after-school activities, and a calendar so scribbled up with activities and to-do’s, it was basically illegible.
I even sat my poor husband down and enthralled him with my tales of being done, cooked, overwhelmed. As always, he gently told me to put my feet back on the ground.
Instead, per usual, I began fantasizing about starting a new life in California as a carefree yoga instructor.
Then, right at that moment, my dreamy West coast reverie was broken by every parent’s worst nightmare: the Stomach Bug. My daughter approached me with the news that she had the virus that her brother had so graciously brought home earlier in the week. My heart fell, looking at her flushed cheeks and knowing the vomitous turmoil that would follow in the coming hours.
There I was, seemingly drained of my last drops of energy, patience, and compassion, faced with a long night of spiking fevers, cold washcloths, and puke. And so I dug deep, way into that back-up reservoir of parental strength that all mommies (and daddies) call upon from time to time. I thought of all the other mommies throughout the history of time, exhausted and sapped, yet putting their needs aside to care for their most precious children.
And we toiled together all night, riding the ups and downs of her fever and holding her hair back from her face as she threw up time and time again. There were also feverish cuddles, her sweltering hand reaching out to make sure I was still there even in the darkness of night.
Somehow, I survived and so did she. I stared at the clock at 1:23 am, wondering how I was going to make it through the next day, how we were going to juggle work obligations and keeping Lucy home from school. But I survived the next day too, trudging along like a half-witted parent zombie, accomplishing what needed to be done (although I may have put my toothbrush in the pantry and briefly forgotten how to speak English on a conference call).
Parenting, and its constant chorus of “MOMMY, I need this, and “MOMMY, help me wipe this” sometimes (errrr, often) drives me nutty. My daughter is a 24-7 chatterbox, and my son is into reciting Presidential trivia until we can no longer bear hearing another titillating fact about President Eisenhower. Also, they whine a lot, which makes me wine a lot.
This parenting thing is no joke, and balancing work and family often overwhelms me. I always feel like I’m being pulled in 12 different directions, and I question if I’m doing it right, if I’m really preparing them to survive in the real world.
But the soul-shaking, reverberating, gift-from-God love that I feel for them propels me ever forward.
One long look at their their big eyes and long lashes drinking in the world, a warm hand in mine, their thoughtful and often witty commentary on the world, and I am filled with enough purpose and resolve to keep going, to take another step.
This rough-and-tumble journey of growing, raising, and loving children has pushed me to my outermost limits and taught me about my own strength and capacity for love. Right there, when I’m at the end of my rope, and the end of that rope is a frazzled, bedraggled mess, I find the will to keep going, just as all parents do. And it’s often there, at the brink of sanity, that I learn the most about myself, my husband, and my children.
They are my safety net, my soft place to fall.
They love me, even though sometimes I want to move to California to be a yoga instructor, and sometimes, I am neither patient nor kind.
My husband, may God bless him, is the sweetest, most patient man, always soothing me and trying to make me happy.
I am doing the best I can, and that is enough.
They are my FAMILY, and it’s that slow-burning, limitless love that carries me through all the challenges of parenting and juggling work and home. That love carries me through sleepless nights, long days, and all the good and so-so days in between. They are my foundation, my people, and even when I’m right there, precariously hanging on the ledge, I know they will catch me and forgive me for my shortcomings. They are my true reason for thanksgiving and giving thanks.