I learned so much from my first child. Not just about kids or parenting, but about people and life and who I wanted to be as a mom and a person. I am still learning every day.
One of my earlier and more profound revelations over the course of my parenting was how quickly and often things change. Of course I knew all the old cliche sayings about change being a part of life. But until you are watching it over the course of one life, day in and day out, you don’t appreciate how true it is.
In the early days of parenting it seemed as though every time I would get close to thinking I had things figured out, she would change the game on me. She would sleep through the night and then all of a sudden she would stop. She would eat like a champ, and then she wouldn’t. Teething, illness, milestones. The moment I would settle in to parenting, the terrain would change, just like that.
Maybe it was the new-mom haze, but for some reason it always caught me off guard. I guess I thought I would get to the point where I felt like I finally had the hang of things. But five years later, I’m still trying to figure out girl drama and sassing and how to teach her to ride a bike with no training wheels.
Some days of parenting are easy. And some days are just plain hard. But then, isn’t that true of everything? Some days I have all the energy in the world, and other days it’s a marathon until bedtime and all I can do is collapse. Some days work is inspiring and uplifting and other days it bites. Some days writing comes as easily as breathing and other days it’s like pulling tree roots to put a thought into words.
And it isn’t just some days. Sometimes it’s some weeks or some months. Sometimes it’s even some years. Some weeks are stressful. Some months are depressing. Some years are difficult.
The current of life is always pulling us along through these cycles, these seasons, and we can choose to let it move us through the hard stuff or we can swim against the current. It can be hard to wait out the rough water, but sometimes pushing back is harder. I used to feel inconvenienced by the ever-changing landscape of life. I’d sigh a heavy sigh every time a new development interrupted my routine.
Now, after years of swimming against the current, I find an odd kind of comfort in knowing that the structure of these days is fleeting. On the bad days, it allows me the grace to take a deep breath and try again tomorrow. If the writing isn’t flowing, I put down the pen and know that the inspiration will return in its own time. If parenting is hard, I simply gather my little people up in my arms and love them as fiercely as I can until it gets easier. If life is throwing curve balls, I count my blessings and try to be patient as I let the current move me a little further down the stream to calmer water.
And if everything is good, in the midst of those beautiful days of bliss and sunshine and life, I slow down and I pay closer attention. I rock the baby longer than I need to and I say yes to the fifth round of junior monopoly and I go to sleep at night with a heart full of gratitude; the kind of pure gratitude you feel when you’re given something you know isn’t yours to keep.
Because tomorrow or the next day or the next day, I’ll wake up and look around and everything will have changed. Again.