Sunday, April 19, 2009

When does motherhood get easy?

Years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t have the ability to comprehend what lay ahead. I was completely focused on my pregnancy and the new addition to the family. In the early years, it’s easy to get caught up in the “baby-ness” of it all. There is such excitement about the cute little clothes, decorating the nursery, and picking out the perfect name. Of course, these things are great fun and they should be! Having a baby is truly the greatest life transforming event that we experience in our lives, but it is not as easy as I once thought it would be.

The baby years are all-consuming. Every ounce of energy is directed toward this tiny helpless being. I remember thinking that this is probably the hardest stage of motherhood and that my life would surely get easier as my babies grew up. They would become more independent and when they could do things for themselves, I would have my freedom back. There would be no more crying and screaming in public and no more toting a suitcase of baby paraphernalia with me at all times. What I failed to comprehend at the time is that it never gets easier.

The years passed and my kids became a little bit older and a little more independent. Surely this was the time when it would get easier. My kids could get their own food from the fridge, were potty trained, and were somewhat rational. I saw a vision of myself in a lounge chair in the backyard, sipping a drink and reading, while my little darlings frolicked happily in the backyard sprinkler. Unfortunately, my imagination and reality did not align as I had planned. Yes, I have sat outside while my kids played. But, instead of the calm and relaxing scene I envisioned, a more typical day went very differently. One kid pushes the other, at which time the pushed one falls into a pile of dog poop and screams. The youngest one, oblivious to his sisters’ fight, wanders towards to the far edges of the yard in pursuit of the dog. It’s hard to comprehend what you are reading when you are constantly monitoring the perimeter of the yard with quick glances and refereeing fights. I put my book down and repeat to myself, when my kids get a little older, this will be easier.

Now my kids are older. One is in college, one is in high school, and one is entering middle school. Years ago this is when I thought it was all going to get real easy. How wrong I was! When they are little, at least they are within your control and influence.

We now have meaningful adult conversations. However, I never realized that the meaningful conversations would revolve around topics such as drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex. I never imagined this, but this is what we as mothers must do these days.

I once again lose sleep at night, but it’s not due to a crying baby. It’s due to the anxiety caused by a teenage daughter who has just gotten her driver’s license and doesn’t come home on time. It is the fear that if the phone rings at night and the kids are out with their friends, that it is going to bring tragic news.

My kids are my life and my soul. I worry about them all of the time.

Being a mom never gets easy. It just changes.

Peggy McNeal

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