Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bowl of Cherries

Whoever it was that said life is like a bowl of cherries had it right.  Sometimes it's sweet, sometimes it's the pits, sometimes it's both at the same time all rolled up together and hanging on the end of a slender green stem.
This is the Mother's Day photo I posted on facebook.  Because it's beautiful.  I love it because we are dressed nicely, with clean faces and smiles.  And because it looks like we love each other.
But below is more the reality of my life.  
The only reason we are mostly clean and combed is because we went to church.  And then we came home and tumbled into our rooms and threw on some whatever clothes so we could meet in the kitchen to feed.  There is chaos on the counter, like most days.  Dog biscuits in the middle of a cookie-making operation.  I love this photo because it is us.  We are who we are, and we're together.  We're even mostly happy.

But I also love this shot below, because the chaos very rarely stays contained on the counter.  It spills over into every aspect of my life.
And even though I prefer the sweet moments, I'm willing to endure the pits because they go hand in hand.  I can't have one without the other.  I can't cherish one without the presence of the other.  And even though I might want to seem like I live a well-groomed, well-behaved, well-lit life, I'm always quick to admit that I struggle with this motherhood thing just as much as the other mothers out there.  And I love my children through all the chaos, the sweet moments, and the pits.
I mentioned back here that if my past self were suddenly dropped into my current life, she would lose it.  I believe that to be true.
I look back on those comparatively calm days with much fondness.  When I stayed home with my two little girs day after day.  When their simple routines were the most pressing things in my life.  Mealtime.  Nap time.  Bath time.  Story time.  Walk to the park time.  Coloring time.  Chase them around the house making monster sounds time.  Snuggle time.  Bed time.
I know I didn't appreciate the relative quiet.  Or peace.  The lack of frenzy.  Not having so many multis in my multi-tasking.  I thought it was hard.  I thought my husband's firefighter schedule of 24 hours on, 48 hours off was challenging.  Which sort of makes me chuckle now.  Nobody told me that life gets harder before it gets easier.  Or maybe I just didn't listen because I wanted to continue believing that my life right then was hard.  But I also realize that it was hard for that version of myself.  Because I was young.  I had just recently joined the throngs of women engaged in the journey that is motherhood.  The chronic lack of sleep with newborns and illness and dreams that cause little ones to wake up crying for their favorite purple dress was a hard thing to adjust to.  Young mothers have to learn how to soldier on even when their most basic of needs aren't being met.  The relentlessness of putting others' needs ahead of our own is a tough pill to swallow.  As is the knowledge that our time is no longer our own, but belongs first and foremost to the little fragile creatures that have been entrusted to our care.  But I have learned that the days when I can "get nothing done" are, in fact, the days when I'm doing the most important things of all.
Mothers have been going through this same refining process since the beginning of time.  Too often, I think, we use our hardships to create wedges between us and others.  To set our tough times apart from those around us.  To help us somehow feel unique.  But none of these life lessons are unique.  Maybe some of the details aren't shared en mass, but the process of learning and stretching and growing is all the same.  It has all been experienced before.
There is no joy, or sorrow that I can feel in relation to my children that hasn't been felt before a million times over.  Kids make messes.  Kids bring chaos.  Kids make you see life through new eyes.  Kids melt your heart and help you learn to love more than you ever thought you needed to.  They bring purpose, triumph and failure.  They bring out the very worst and the very best in us. 
And through it all, I am so grateful to be a mother.  To be this mother, with these children at this time. 
I love how this process is described in the movie A Wrinkle in Time, "All the glory of what you are now and all the wonder of what you will become.  It's only yours if you discover it for yourself."  How grateful I am for this journey, and for all the joy and discovery to be found.
My crew gave me the perfect gift this year.  (I shouldn't mention that it's because I told them, "This is what I want.") 
A hammock, with a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies that I didn't even have to make myself.  So, when I get overwhelmed by the chaos in my life, I can retreat to a peaceful place and look up at this view . . .
to help me remember the magnitude of my blessings.  Bowl of cherries, indeed.

1 comment:

Mom said...

I love your thought that your past self would lose it if she was dropped into your current life. Fast forward 30 years and your future self would lose it too. By then you'll mostly remember the sweetness of those cherries, and miss the feeling of sticky hands in yours and little arms around your neck.