I remember the first time it happened. It was a quiet, icy morning in Washington, D.C. in 2008, and we were driving home from the hospital with our brand new baby girl. Our first baby girl. The trees, the sky, the streets all looked the exact same as they had two days before. But for me, the world had shifted on its axis. Suddenly, I was someone’s mom, which was surreal and overwhelming. I knew who I was as an attorney, a wife, a sister. But as a mother?
In the last few years, two moms have given me advice that I’ve never forgotten. Their advice was simple but profound: there will be time for that later, and you’ll know it when it happens.
In one of my favorite Coldplay songs, Chris Martin sings: “and the hardest part, is letting go, not taking part, it’s the hardest part.” Oh, Chris Martin. You get me, you really get me. Did you plan for those lyrics to perfectly describe what it’s like to parent a tween?
To my surprise, my Mom replied: “oh, he wants tricks? We’ll give him tricks!” (I want to say she cackled there but maybe that’s just my memory embellishing this story a bit.)
Ten years into parenting, I sometimes feel like I know less now than ever before. And that got me thinking, what do I know for sure about parenting? What do I know for sure about being a mom? Here’s what I’ve got:
Love is not a victory march. Love is showing up, day in and day out, even when you want to give up. Even when there’s nothing left to give.
“They’re beautiful,” I said to the florist as I burst into shoulder-shaking, heaving tears. It was real. It was happening. My Dad had died, and we were getting the most beautiful flowers ever for this, the saddest day of my life. How could something so beautiful exist solely to celebrate such a tragedy? They were such a beautiful monument to the grief I felt that it seemed surreal.
I have in my head all these awesome plans for the summer, complete with lots of reading, nutritious snacks, and quality family time. I know, are you laughing, too? Because it's comical to think that's how it'll go. I think the reality is more likely to be moments of fun sprinkled into a batter of exhaustion, frustration, and sleep deprivation.
Look, I get it. It’s a convenient conversation starter to make with someone who has lots of daughters. But if you want to know the truth, I do not worry about their weddings, and here’s why.
Outside, though, the lemon tree continues its predictable pattern of growing beautiful yellow lemons year after year. To me, their predictability is both comforting and bittersweet. When all else is changing, the fruit trees remain the same—dutifully growing, changing, and repeating the pattern year after year.
My friend held up his hand to stop me before I could spit out another question. He smiled and said calmly, “Wait a minute. Has anyone told you that it’s awesome having triplets? Has anyone told you how much fun it will be? Has anyone told you that maybe everything will be just fine?”
At 40, it feels like anything is possible, though there’s also an urgency to do the things I want right now. And I guess that’s what I never understood about a midlife crisis until now: it’s not a crisis at all, but an awakening to the urgency of living the life you want and doing what makes you happy, right now.
“Am I going to be okay, Mom?” My daughter asked quietly as she lie on an ER gurney. It was midnight, and we had been there for hours. She’d had bloodwork, IV meds, and IV fluids.
Everyone has before-and-afters in life. Little did I know, in spring of 2014, my life would be defined by two before-and-afters that occurred in the span of one month.
Two with three means constantly shouting “where’d the third one go?!” Two with three is figuring out who bit whom. Two with three is a connection so deep they don’t know where they end and the others begin.
Car dates. They’re a thing. At least for me and my husband. You, too, can experience glorious car dates with just a few easy steps. Here’s how:
We were intimately in tune with each other's struggles and victories, both the big ones and the small ones. And so, during those years, we carried each other through the best and worst of things.
We live in an age of parenting where want to fix things. We want our children to be happy. Yet when our kids lose a loved one, we cannot fix things for them. We cannot make them better. We can, however, show them how to grieve through our example.
Every time we travel with our six kids, I have this moment of panic where I ask myself:
What have we done?! What WERE we thinking? Why did we come to the beach/the zoo/Grandma’s house/Disney? We’re never traveling again.
“Oh, they don’t talk to me. I’m not one of the cool girls.” My heart sank when my nine year old made this comment about some of her classmates.