I had a bad week.
Nothing horrible happened. Nothing truly worth complaining about. It was just one of those weeks.
One of those weeks when I wanted to hide in the bathroom and ignore my kids. When my words and actions were harsher than intended. One of those weeks when I questioned why I became a mother. Even though I know that’s a rhetorical and meaningless question, the negativity of it drained me just as much as MM’s incessant whining and TL’s repetitive shrieks of incoherent demands.
I keep telling myself – This is just a stage. This is just a stage.
If I say it over and over, will it make this stage pass by faster?
The stage of…
pre-dawn wake-up calls.
food on the floor.
climbing, and falling.
boneless fits of pointless drama.
I become so preoccupied with lamenting this stage and longing for that next stage. I lose sight of my children. I become disconnected. I go through the motions, because it’s just a stage. I’m just passing through. Thanks, but no thanks.
Parents often say to each other something along the lines of “It gets better.” This consolation has always bothered me a little. Maybe it does. But maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s just different, each stage bringing its own new set of challenges. Because parenting doesn’t end, you know. Because parenting isn’t a stage. Once a mother or father, the heart is never quite the same again. Therein is the rub, as well as the joy.
This is not how I want to live, discontent with the present and fixated on some future change in circumstance. All I have of my husband and my children is this snapshot in time, however ugly and flawed that picture may sometimes seem. But it’s what I have, and it is precious to me.
When I stop dissecting my life and family into stages, I actually begin to live out my day. The focus shifts back to the present, and my heart remembers why I’m here in the first place.
I want to relish the crescendo of giggles as they wrestle on the floor,
even though I desperately want a little quiet for a change.
I want to recognize their heroic efforts to be helpful,
even though I wish they’d just leave me alone so I can do what I need to do.
I want to enjoy the way my kids fit perfectly in my lap,
even though I’m counting down the minutes to bedtime.
I want to see my children for who they are today.
It is a stage after all, but that means this stage will indeed be gone.