Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Bitter with the Sweet

Last weekend I took my kids on a youth group camping trip. The teenagers had a great time, thanks to the two other competent adults I asked to come and help me. They both love camping and know all the tricks and have all the tools to have a really great camping trip.

Then there was me. I did pretty well. I set up the tent. I had the mosquito repellant and the sunscreen and the warm, long sleeved clothes and everything we needed. I did not, however, have the plug to my air matress, which made for miserable sleeping conditions.

As some of you know, Andrew is not a prize winning sleeper. Getting him to sleep has always been a chore, and he did not accomplish the feat of staying asleep all the way through the night until he was almost two. We still have our sleepless nights, and the two nights on the campout were among them.

Since he is a very high needs child, we have had many frustrating days, as well. I wish sometimes that I could go to the bathroom without him, or do a load of laundry without hearing "Where are you, mommy?" from somewhere in the house. When I was at the retreat, I was wishing I could unpack food for the campout or go and get my flashlight or nurse the baby without having to wait for him to walk with me from the main campsite to the site where our tent was pitched. I was wishing he would stay with some of the other people while I trekked to the bathroom or went and spent time with the youth kids. Or even that I might have been able to drip him off with someone for the weekend, like many of my friends do, and go by myself.

This got me thinking about the comment older women with grown up children always make. "Enjoy these years. They go so fast." I always think, "How can I enjoy them? I spend the entire time cleaning bodily fluids off myself, my children and the carpet. I am losing the upper range of my hearing from all the shreiking I have heard in the last two years. Have maybe had 30 days when I have slept 8 hours straight in the last 3 years. I am constantly harried, distracted, screamed at, clinged to, spit up on, tired, sore and numb from answering a thousand questions every day. Motherhood sometimes feels long and bitter. I can see why many women never seem to recover themselves at the end of it.

But then we went to the beach in Waskesiu. After a trying time getting into the car to get there, a long tiring walk with one boy in the stroller and one baby in the backpack, and having to repeat the mantra "we will go to the beach AFTER mommy finishes her coffee, Andrew!" a thousand times, we actually had this beautiful moment on the beach. Some of the girls were amusing the baby, and Andrew and I took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our pants and waded in the water. We looked at the boats and the birds. We laughed at the cold water on our feet. We squelched our way up and down a good portion of the beach. We saw hordes of butterflies and dragon flies. It was a perfect moment. One that you want to breathe in and hold onto and never let go.

I realized that these moments are not hard to come by when you are parenting young chilren, if you stop and take them. I realized that this is the sweetness and joy I longed for when I chose to have children. And I realized that it is the bitter times, the angry, frustrating times that make these quiet, beautiful moments even more precious. I love happy little moments with Andrew because I can hold them close and remember them when I am way past the end of my rope. I can enjoy my time with my children when I let go of all the frustrations, give in to the reality that I will not be at my best for the next ten years or so, and take time to experience the simple wonders that surround me.

When I am in the bitter moments, I try to find a little morsel of sweetness to help them go down a bit easier. Instead of complaining about the frustrations of my day, I'm learning to ask myself what we can do to let go of the day's tensions and enjoy a little moment together. A few moments walking on the beach, digging in the sand, or eating pretend food out of a book together is usually all it takes. I just have to remember to stop and find the sweetness and savour it when it comes my way.

1 comment:

Kristin said...

it is those moments that sneak up and take our breath away that make the worst days and hardest stretches just seem to fade away. I'm so thankful for those moments. thank you for sharing this, it's touched my heart tonight.