Somewhere along the way, I got this idea that being a mom was supposed to be fun. I would marry a wonderful, handsome guy and have a brood of beautiful children. We would laugh all the time and never argue. Our days would be spent doing art projects, having tickle fights, playing board games congenially, and throwing a ball around outside. The only time someone would cry would be if one of my sweet, perfect children fell down and bumped their head…and of course, I would be right there to love and kiss that boo-boo away.
But guess what? This isn’t fun.
Remember how I said I imagined that the only time someone would cry was if they fell down? Today at the park, Charlotte fell (because she insisted on going down some very steep stairs even though I told her not to) and bumped her head HARD. I couldn’t catch her because I was holding Lila so I just awkwardly half-grabbed her which probably made her hit her head harder. And instead of crying for mommy to kiss her boo-boo, she screamed NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOO when I went to comfort her as she has done for the past few weeks any time she falls down. Apparently this girl gets P.O.’d when she’s hurt. I don’t really get it and I quit trying to understand.
That’s not the only crying though. There’s the tantrums and the screaming fits. All day. Every day. Yep, she’s been fed and, yep, she’s taking naps. I’ve switched around schedules and tried lots of different strategies. It’s just this magical thing called being two. Oh, and of course, there’s the three month old baby thrown in the mix who is really laid back but just happens to cry every once in a while too…obviously timed at the exact same moment as a temper tantrum from big sis for a more dramatic effect.
Nope, this isn’t fun.
It’s hard work. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. Emotional. And sometimes it just plain sucks.
Many times this week, I have had to remind myself that I prayed for this. I longed for this and begged for this. I used to absolutely loathe it when I heard anyone utter anything that resembled a complaint about being a parent, no matter how tiny the complaint. In that difficult time after losing Callie, but before having Charlotte, I couldn’t fathom how anyone could feel such a way.
A little while ago after a particularly challenging day, I was putting the girls to bed. Lila was nursing and Charlotte was snuggled up close on my other side as we read books. Their freshly bathed skin smelled so good and they were both so cuddly and sweet. After reading, Charlotte told me she loved me and asked me to sing her our song. I’ve always sung “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) ” by Billy Joel to her as she goes to sleep every night, but on this occasion I looked over to my left and saw the bronzed cast of Callie’s hand next to her bear and a framed picture that says “You Are My Sunshine” and instead of singing the usual song, I sang that one instead. “You Are My Sunshine” has been and always will be Callie’s song and because of that I have never been able to sing it to Charlotte or Lila. I’ve avoided it like the plague because it makes me so deeply sad. But on this night, it felt right.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine… you make me happy when skies are gray..
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you… please don’t take my sunshine away.
The other night dear, when I lay sleeping… I dreamt I held you in my arms…
When I awoke dear, I was mistaken… so I hung my head and cried.
For the first time, I was able to sing it to the babies that Callie watches over every day with me. I still felt sadness, but I finally was able to let myself smile a little bit too. Charlotte looked up at me and said, “Again, Mommy?” and flashed those dimples I love so much. So, I sang it again, and again, and again, each time releasing a little bit more of that un-fun day and embracing the sweetness of my precious girls in that moment.
Nope, it’s not about being fun. Ok, sometimes it is. Like the times Lila looks at me and smiles and coos. Like Charlotte proudly showing off during ballet. Playing in the pool. Enjoying ice cream. Singing lullabies. But, these days at least, it’s mostly not-fun stuff like gigantic poop-splosions, dragging a screaming toddler through the mall, or worrying about if I am doing this even remotely right.
Being a parent is not about being fun or not fun. It’s about being present and not wishing away time or dwelling on what can’t be changed. It’s about loving these fickle mini-people in the good times and bad. It’s leading them, listening to them. It’s forgiveness. It’s amazing and awesome, humbling and complicated. Hopefully, there is a little fun sprinkled in there too- I’ve just learned that, “fun” is not what it’s all about.
It’s being happy when skies are gray (even if the cloudy skies are their fault!)…and remembering that there will always be sunshine after every storm, even if it takes a while.
And sometimes, if the light is just right, there is a rainbow too. ;-)