Monday, November 18, 2013

When We Were Awesome

The phone rang; my girlfriend asked, "Hey!  Whatcha doing?"  I laughed and said, "Oh, Pax and I were just talking about when you should call 911 and when you shouldn't."  Knowing Pax like she does, she laughed at my emphasis on shouldn't.  "Remember when our kids were really little, and we did that activity playgroup thing?" she asked.  "Remember how somebody had that touch-tone phone that all the kids could use to practice calling 911, and it had that recording of what a dispatcher would sound like on the other end?" she continued.  "And then that safety video they all watched?  My kids still talk about that video, to this day."

"I know! I was just thinking about that the other day!" I said.  We laughed again at this unexpected little rehashing of a shared memory.  My friend said, "We were so awesome then!  We were such good moms!"  I laughed and said "Yeah!  What happened to us?!"  We laughed some more.

And in that moment, it felt really good to remember being an awesome mom.  We were awesome.  We had this one phase of a super-organized playgroup with structured themes and activities - the safety theme was one of many creative mornings. We had a food pyramid/nutrition lesson, a music lesson, an art lesson, a movement/exercise lesson.  Looking through old photos recently, I was amazed at how much time I seemed to have, and I puzzled over why, as my children grow more independent and self-sufficient, I feel like my time is an ever-increasing precious commodity...

Those early days, those were physically hard days.  They were completely exhausting.  At times they were mind-numbing in the repetition of mundane tasks necessary for sustaining and growing life.  They were lonely days, filled with one-sided conversations and children who could only babble or giggle - albeit adorably - in response.  They were frustrating days, but what strikes me, in retrospect, is that there were so many answers.  Baby is crying? Put him in water.  Too many tantrums?  Time for a nap.  Hit his brother?  Put him in time out.  Crabby at 3:00?  Give him a snack.  Need an activity?  Turn on the faucet; open a kitchen drawer; pull out a carton of blocks.  Want instant giggles? Hide behind your hands; chase him around the house.  Feeling sad?  Snuggles are always waiting.

But these days, nebulously defined as raising children aged preschool-to-tween, while less physically demanding than before, are emotionally hard.  Few answers are easy; there are no fast solutions like sleep or food or time outs, nothing that creates definitive and certain knowledge of a job well done.  Parenting now is nuanced; our actions and our words are matched and mirrored, sometimes in ways that are breathtaking and beautiful, other times in ways that are horrifying and alarming... 

On Saturday, I enjoyed an afternoon celebrating a birthday and visiting vineyards with some wonderful mama friends.  Most of these women, I've known for years; a few of them stretch back to the days of when we were Awesome Moms.  What struck me this time was that as we shared stories of parenting our somewhat older children, there was a whole lot of head-scratching, a whole lot of thoughtful silence, a noticeable lack of "well, have you tried...?" or "Did you read that book on...?" or "What always works for me is..."

And yet, what I also heard was the same refrain I've heard scads of times in my 9 1/2 years of parenting.  I heard mothers wrestling with how to help, in the face of so much resistance - how to shape and guide, how to make life less painful for their children, how to show their love, how to see these beautiful children through this messy and sometimes ugly world in which we live.  I heard the love and the pride and the anguish in their voices as they described their sons and daughters and the struggles endured in navigating this road of raising children - sometimes pulling them along; sometimes pushing them from behind; often walking alongside them, hoping to catch them before they fall, leading them back on the path - with hope-filled desperation to raise up these human beings into becoming the very best of our dreams for them, the absolute resolution that we will never, ever give up.

And that's when I realized: we still are awesome moms.


Susan said...

YES!!! you are and so are so many of your mama buddies.

Linsey said...

I was just thinking about this. Now my mama-conversations are often about homeschooling and discipline and ho-boy there are just no easy answers or tips or ah-ha moments.

stacy said...

Ha! I remember that playgroup! It's funny, though, how crazy life seemed at that time too. What age will they be before it gets easier again?!