Motherhood has acted like a meat tenderizer to my heart. I'm not talking about that white powder that you sprinkle onto beef. I'm talking about that mallet with the spikes. I'm in shock. Everything is so sore and sensitive.
I suppose Lee would say the same about being two and a half. It's hard learning how to close your eyes so shampoo doesn't get in them and learning how to pull off your socks starting from the heel. It's frightening passing big dogs on the sidewalk and standing in a room of loud talking strangers who speak to you in high pitched voices and want to poke your cheeks. Rose would agree, although she wouldn't mind the strangers so much as long as Mommy is holding her. She's more uncomfortable with having shirts put on and off her head every morning and night and sometimes in the middle of the day. And that whole bit about being left alone in a crib three times a day, no fun at all. Who made up this game anyway?
Every decision I make for Lee weighs heavily on my shoulders. Do I reprimand that toy throwing or let it be? Do I put a pull-up on him or take a risk in the car? Do I put him down for a nap at the same time as Rose? Do I make him eat all the food on his plate?
Thank God, Lee's trailblazing has made me more calm with Rose. Yes, she ate a tuft of carpet, a few podocarpus leaves and an apple sticker. Oh well, it'll go right through her. She's crying in there still. That's okay. Let's wait another 15 minutes. Her onsie is damp with potty? Oh well, it won't hurt her.
And things that were once a chore are a privilege: grocery shopping, writing an email, and pooping all by myself with no one in the room are such luxuries. A day without potty on the floor, a morning without protests, a walk down the street without skinned knees, sparkling kitchen counters for a few hours, a vacuumed rug, a fridge full of food. Such blessings that once wouldn't have given me a rise are now little treats.
Yes, and instances of grief cut me right to this twitching nerve in my back: his bit tongue, spilled milk, and the inability to reach something or go to the park or eat cookies in the morning. The disappointment at not being able to play with the whole wheat flour or bury Rose under a pile of laundry or run into the house all dusty from the backyard. Tears. Tears. Tears.
It used to be simple, knowing how others ought to handle their misbehaving children, but that was because I wasn't feeling the battle inside, the overwhelming desire to keep my boy from hurting or struggling or being disappointed. To save! A mother wants to save. To stand back and allow the consequences to come or to inflict the punishment and then comfort is stinking hard. It'd be so much easier to do it for him. And yet . . . I can't. Not if I want him to grow up to be a man.
DARN, those spiritual analogies! They're so obnoxiously obvious!
I thank God for the surprises, those unexpected instances, which I think are the reason why people say that this work is worth it in the long run. Again, moments that mean more because my heart has been tenderized. Prior to having kids, I would've just said, "Awww, that's cute." Now I haven't words to put to these joys, just gasps and smiles and a grabbing for my camera. Did he just do that? He did! It's like getting a medal for running a marathon. I suppose a round hunk of metal wouldn't be worth much, if you hadn't run at all. And let me tell you, mothers run. We run the heck out of each day.