“Happy New Year and an Ode to Children and Parenting”
Ah parenting. There should be a separate occasion after the baby shower where they tell some of the other details that will make up your life for the next 18+ years. I don’t know, a meeting of the minds where you get a step by step of how to give a good hairy eyeball; where you are briefed on the fact your sleep will never be the same and that you will learn how to function on doctor’s hours many a day; and that each child in your life will be this funny mix of “Who is this alien creature to Wow, there I am in miniature form!” There are the things that will inevitably come to pass. For one, you will turn into your parents. From saying “Because I told you so” to doing the things you would never imagine you’d do, this will happen! As children, my siblings and I would laugh that our dear mother could misplace a birthday card or a Christmas present and have it turn up six months later. You will be that mother and it will make perfect sense. One can only keep so many things straight.
You will need ear plugs, a mop, and a constant wet rag for life’s many messes with children. Your home will never be as neat as you want it or as quiet as you need it at certain times of the day. You will long for the minimalist monastery, but often have the frat party look in your home, replete with toys that rival Santa’s workshop.
You will learn the fine art of arbitration. The great unions of the world will not match your fine negotiating skills between your various aged children.
You will become a magician on many occasions, as with a ta dah, you will pull off birthday parties, holidays, and other special events sick, exhausted, puzzled, and at the last minute.
You will become a boxer. You will beat yourself up about how you could have approached things better with your child on countless occasions. You will feel bruised and battered at the end of many a day. You will sometimes crumple to the ground in crying defeat. But you will also do your victory lap around the ring and a happy dance for things that would seem laughable in your 20’s or with your sibling or friend’s children.
Yet you will feel treasures immeasurable. How do you put to words the gorgeous beauty of your children’s little blooming personalities? Their little quips that are so innocent, yet so profound. –So funny and so true. From your vivacious daughter who professes the nights are too long and that she doesn’t like to sleep ; to your oldest who asks you questions that your theologian friend needs to answer; to your baby boy whose wispy first phrases of love you and Grandpa highlight your day. How do you describe the smile that connects you to your spouse over your children and the special contentment they cause and you have created?
How do you duplicate the warmth of your children’s snuggle. When days leave us broken, their little snuggles are so large and healing. When phones scream at us and the noise of the world threatens to drown us, their laughter and little voices uplift us to our better selves.
For this New Year, I wish you the hairy eyeball to use with great skill when needed and the cacophony of your children along with the calm and contentment that only a parent can know. I wish you all of it, because that is what having children is all about it. —And I am so so glad! Happy New Years!