You might as well nickname me “Maple,” because I am full of sap. I’m a very emotional person. I wouldn’t say that I’m sensitive, because my feelings don’t get hurt easily; rather, I am emotional. I cry easily, and I love it. I get choked up when my third son brings me a bouquet of dandelions. I get choked up when my daughter says, “I lubs you Mommy.”Now I am getting choked up again when I think about my oldest, who is making his First Communion next Saturday, May 2.
Motherhood is the great contradiction. One minute we are wishing our children would just get through that tough phase, whatever it may be, and the next minute we are wishing we could stop them from growing up so fast.
There is something about your firstborn child. I’m not saying that they are the favorite child, or the preferred child. I am just saying that with your firstborn child you hit those milestones for the first time together. They, in a sense, teach you how to be a parent. When I breastfed him for the first time I had no idea what I was doing. But my newborn boy taught me how to do it, and by the time his siblings came along I was an expert. When I potty-trained my firstborn son, I was clueless as to how to do it the right way, but we learned together. My other three kids have taught me countless lessons as well. Kind of ironic, huh? Is the parent the teacher, or is it the other way around?
I have tried my best to savor babyhood and now childhood with my kids, but alas, it still doesn’t stop time, and time passes way too quickly. I keep a diary of the funny things my kids do and say, and now I have this blog to help me remember these days and to put things in perspective. I also write each of my kids a letter around their birthday every year, recounting the last year of the life, and describing the events and milestones that occurred. It’s hard to believe that my oldest son's stack of letters has grown to be eight letters high.
What other job has the moments that parenthood has? Do you think people keep diaries of their days and milestones at an accounting firm? Do you think they try and savor the moment when a colleague brought them a cup of coffee? I think not. This job has many difficult and frustrating moments, but I’m finding that most days, even the boring and mundane ones are to be savored because all too soon they will be a memory.
Things have gotten fuzzy over the years as our lives have gotten busier and more children have been added to our brood, but I still remember the exact moment that I found out I was pregnant with each of my kids, and I still remember the exact moment when each of my kids was born, and how I felt. It’s like I heard a camera-like click go off in my brain, forever preserving those moments in time. What I don’t remember as well is the bad stuff. I don’t remember every pregnancy complaint, or every punishment I’ve ever had to give. After all, if all we ever remembered was the bad stuff, who would ever take on this job? I believe it’s God’s way of keeping the world going. He blesses parents with selective memory.
Last night my boy said he wanted to practice for his First Communion. He said he is nervous that he won’t get it right. So he put milk in a plastic wine glass, squirted a few drops of strawberry syrup in it, and called it “wine.” Then he put some Girl Scout shortbread cookies in a bowl and called it “bread.” He told me I was the priest. He folded his hands and walked down the long “aisle.” (our front hall) Then as I, “Father Clare”, held up the Girl Scout shortbread cookie and said, “The Body of Christ,” I got choked up again. Bill and the boys laughed at me. My oldest son said, “Mooooommm! Are you going to cry AGAIN?”
Yes Charlie, I am going to cry. And I am going to savor and enjoy every last minute of it.