Friday, September 20, 2013

For the weary parents

It is so easy to become weary of parenthood.  The thing they don't tell you (because you really know, yet can't fully grasp) is that you never really get a break.  Sure, you can hire a babysitter (if you can find and afford one that you can trust), but the kids are always on your mind even when you're apart (and pray that the sitter doesn't call with an emergency).  You can go to sleep (after an hour of fighting with them to go to sleep), but just hope no one wakes up throwing up or has a bad dream. And you know that they are blessings, and you know that others long for the gifts you have, and so it's not really acceptable to complain.  But your mind feels like mush from the endless questions and demands, your body is exhausted at the constant touch and pull and the inability to sit and rest.  You can't remember what it feels like to finish a conversation...or a thought.  You forget who you are separate from them...but it's not like they notice you're a separate being with its own needs anyway.  You dread the thought of getting up in a few hours to start it all over again, already hearing the sound of the whining, the rudeness, the screaming demands, and the ungrateful replies.  And the fighting...can they ever speak to one another without instigating a fight?  They fought all day today over a stupid empty shoebox like it was the freaking holy grail.

You're not asking for much...maybe a few minutes in peace to collect your thoughts, or help with cleaning the messes THEY made without the sighs and complaints of the unfairness of their lives.  You're not even expecting a "thank you," although something other than "YOU'RE MEAN!" would be nice.  And to think we put all this effort into raising them so they'll go off and leave us one day and we'll be sad that they never visit or call often enough.  Your free time used to be spent on catching up on the latest movies and trying out a new restaurant, or just a walk by yourself down a lovely trail.  Now, "free time" is doing chores, planning and attending birthday parties (that ALWAYS end in tears), and trying to find a way to entertain them and keep your sanity in the process.  You've abandoned hope that they'll actually absorb any of the lessons you futilely try to impart.

But there are moments that seem to shine like sparkles of hope.  Tonight was one of these, and I'll even try to forget that it ended badly.  After the frustration of an unquiet quiet time, the neediness of the kids, and my lack of frustration, I decided we had to get out of the house.  We loaded up the bikes and went down to the greenway, something we've done only once before.  The kids were excited, and I was glad to get some fresh air, perspective, and a bit of exercise.  Brady is relatively new to riding his bike without training wheels, but has picked it up much more quickly than many things he's tried.  Once we got on the route, he quickly took off away from Maryn and me.  In just a minute's time, he was just a speck off in the distance.  He didn't stop or look back, and for once I wasn't anxious, but proud.  I finally saw an independent spirit in the boy who constantly need attention and affirmation.  He was on his own and soaring in his freedom.  He is so little, and yet on his bike, he must have felt so big and powerful.  By the time we caught up with him, he had made it to our playground destination and was getting off his bike.  He paused for a moment to look back and see if I would stop him, but I only smiled, and he ran ahead to play.

Sometimes in these moments I can catch a glimpse of their future greatness in their present goodness.

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