Motherhood: The Best and Worst of Times

by | Aug 20, 2008 | Joel, Lucy, Olivia, Parenting/Family | 15 comments

I wonder if Charles Dickens had any idea these words would be considered an excellent synopsis for describing the condition called – Motherhood.

Motherhood: The Best and Worst of Times

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way… 

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I have literally experienced The. Best. Times.

I have literally  experienced The. Worst. Times.

Light and Dark… Hope and despair.

The best: Holding my newborn babies for the first time, kissing their pink lips and counting all ten toes… That was when Heaven was at the edge of my lips… it was at the tips of my fingers. And within mere days I would “go directly the other way” as sleep deprivation took over.

Nothing prepares one for this. Nothing. It is rite of passage… a very dark passage.

Lately, my heart has been in a near-constant state of opposition. There are times I look at my children and swoon so deeply over the blessing I have been given in them. I am so swoon-stricken that I think actual pink puffy hearts blow from my every breath.

My son is compassionate and incredibly helpful. His heart is everything I could have desired for a young man… expressive, strong, confident, gentle, AND he likes things tidy!

My middle daughter is creative and strong. She is daring, expressive, and resourceful. I am envious of her creative vision and her penchant for daring.

My youngest is happy, confident, decisive and when I watch her play “pretend” I find I mindlessly slip into her world of princesses and music. I stand silently at the edge of the room to listen in on her world of delight.

My heart feels like it will explode with joy when the three of them come together and love each other with all their goodness. Seeing my son care for his sisters… listening to the three work together to make decisions… watching them working on solutions to play in a way that fits each of their stages.

Two nights ago I checked on the girls in bed and they were snuggled together while the the oldest read the youngest a book. **gush** 

But, you know what? Within minutes – Hell itself can start rumbling from the bowels of the earth.

The screaming. The physical assaults. The manipulation of reality presented before me.

The bickering. The bickering. The bickering.

The tattling. The subsequent pain in my chest because I can’t possibly moderate another “disagreement”.

I didn’t get a degree in diplomacy!

My advice to parents-to-be: get a degree in diplomacy… is there a degree for “Debate Moderator”? That’d be a good one too.

And here I sit. In the span of time it has taken to write this post I have watched my son slice and toast English muffins for his younger sister. I have listened to the youngest scream like a banshee (not exaggerating – I’ll record it sometime – it’s nearly unbelievable the pitch she reaches) as both of the older two decisively aggravate her – because they think it’s cute when she screams at such decibels. Good times. They have giggled together, and have tattled on each other. They have spilled milk and wiped it up. My chest has gone “all twisty” thrice times three, just during this writing. 

And I love them. I can’t imagine life without each one. At the gym today, a 70’s-ish young woman imparted the usual wisdom as I shared the ages of my three, “Take advantage of this time… they’ll be grown and married before you know it…” I sensed a sadness in her eyes.

I wonder if she sensed the fear in mine. Will I blow it again today? Will I fall short… again? What new regrets will I amass? Will I hug them enough? How do I help them learn to be independent, yet be “hands-on” enough to communicate I love them and will take care of them? Why is it so hard to speak gently? How? Will? What? Why? Do you feel my chest getting “all twisty” again?

Breaking news: The boy just assaulted the middle daughter. There is wailing and gnashing of teeth. The youngest screamed at the boy as a protective gesture toward her sister, “You. Don’t. Hurt. Your. Poopy. Sister!” They all stopped. The blood-letting and terrorizing stopped – if only for a moment… and they laughed.

Me? My chest twisted again, and I laughed too. 

And… the tale of two cities in the country of My Motherhood is still being written… I will be accepting prayers, positive feedback, and cash – I am going to start a “Therapy Fund”  for my children… I may buy a few session for myself too.


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