Growing My Own

I spent most of my life with my wheels spinning, running on angst, pride, and selfishness. I was looking for the next best thing, new jobs, promotions, graduate schools, a good hairdresser. I devoted a considerable amount of time to lovingly pruning grocery-store bouquets, dusting, and straightening the art on the walls. I was young. I was, for a large portion of that time, single, and I was a very vocal product of the Me Generation and an only child.

I knew who I was, what I wanted, and where I was going. I knew what I was cooking that night. I knew I could work on my project on Tuesday, and that I would hop on the elliptical, using Program 4 for thirty minutes, before showering and leaving the house for groceries on Saturday afternoon. I knew. I knew everything.

And then, as you’ve no doubt heard before, children arrived and changed our lives forever.

Once our lives had changed so, circumstances begin popping up, rather randomly, to serve as reminders of what I’ve left behind, either by choice or by chance.

My reminders usually arrive in the form of houseguests and visitors. I sit back, silently, as they cloy at my children for affection, gather and relocate the toys in the living room for ‘safety’, and otherwise try to affect the situation into which they’ve been unwittingly placed. They do things like make sure both socks are on each child (and are not twisted), that no item of food touches the floor, and that everyone is smiling.

And I sit. And I watch. And I intermittently provide commentary that may or may not assist them in making further decisions.

And as I observe, I am repeatedly reminded that the decisions being made before me are, in fact, not for the well-being of my children, but for the sanity of the visitor. To make everything right with one’s world. To reduce the obvious measure of anxiety that accompanies caring for three toddlers.

“Well, what should we do?” they ask me, using the royal ‘we’.

“Whatever you think,” I respond. Stymied, they continue on their ways, fumbling blindly through a world dominated by that which they cannot control.

And I remember the grocery-store bouquets. And I remember the Christmas lights I wound, perfectly symmetrically, around the columns of my porch. And I remember taking the dog out to pee at 5:30 every night. I remember when my world made sense.

And I stifle the urge to chuckle when socks go flying over the couch, or two of the kids run into one another and then fall down, or someone gets ‘caught’ pushing a shade up and down. And they look at me. And I shrug.

And I know fully well that behind their eyes swirls a disquieting combination of frustration and confusion, at things not going as planned, at my letting things be, at my standing back, at my apparent neglect. And they fumble, and sigh, and continue to carefully reconstruct a house of cards in gale-force winds, surrounded by whirling dervishes with unpredictable orbits. And I leave them be, not out of cruelty or facetiousness, but because I know they’ll be okay. All of them. And they always are.

And I am at peace because in their desperate eyes, I see myself.  I see myself planning and scheduling and whipping myself into a meringue making my life perfect, making myself comfortable, surrounding myself with desirable aromas, bright colors, and favorable light. And realize that I’m just as happy, if not more now, perpetually assaulted by chaos and not knowing what to do.

And I relish the fact that my son still smells delicious with a sweaty head. And one sock on. And his juice cup on the floor. And that I love my daughter just as much with that chunk of waffle stuck in her hair with syrup. And the toys are strewn everywhere, because, hey, that’s where they like them, and that I’m no worse of a parent because of any of it. And I’m not always clean. And my clothes are not always ironed. And I may or may not know what’s for dinner tonight.

But at the end of the day, we’ll snuggle on the couch, and I’ll kiss a head, or rub a foot, or tickle a thigh, and where the toys currently rest does not cross my mind. Small, warm lips will meet my cheek and impress it with a kiss. Hair will be soft, eyes will shine, and we may sing a song or two.

And when I lie in bed, I will think not about whether six socks are on six feet, or what residue lurks beneath the kitchen table. I will (if I’m not too exhausted to think, of course) think about the fact that my kids went to bed happy, under warm blankets, and are getting the rest that they need.

And think about just how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown since becoming a parent.

Someday, there may be grocery-store bouquets again. But, for now, I’m growing my own.

Bokeh - Flowers - Forget-me-nots

19 Comments Add yours

  1. grandmalin says:

    “….a house of cards in gale force winds….” that’s it exactly. Maybe it’s the hardest when they’re small, but in so many ways it’s also the most rewarding. Best thing I’ve read in a long time. xx


    1. Oh, thank you! You made my day!


  2. Eleanor says:

    you just made me cry. I was totally that person and found myself unexpectedly pregnant. I chose to keep my beautiful daughter and raise her and now she’s wreaking 2 year old havoc all over my life and I love it. Coming to realize this and coming to accept this has been a challenging thing for me, but in the midst of it all, I feel the same way you do and I am so happy for it. My life is so much more fulfilling than it ever has been because of my daughter. Thank you.


    1. I’ve come a LONG way, and if you’re anything like me, you have, too. Congrats, girl!


  3. YES! YES! YES! Not only are you an extraordinary writer, but I am IN LOVE with your message. Oh my goodness, I had to laugh out loud. I think we lived the same pre-kids life! And now, thanks to a lot of “letting go,” I am getting to the point where I can focus on the fact that my children are loved and well cared for — and any more is just icing on the cake. My 9 year old wears mismatched socks every single day, and I feel so good that I can kiss her goodbye each morning and just smile when I look at those socks.

    THANK YOU for leaving your post on my page. You have made my day. Your writing talent is amazing, my friend.



    1. Thank YOU for coming by! I’ve been quietly following you for a while. :-)


  4. Kacy says:

    What a beautiful post. You always hit the nail right on the head, momma. My 13-month-old twins and I thank you. :)


  5. blissfive says:

    LOVE IT!!! So how my life is…one big blur of love!


  6. Yep.
    How did we get here again, because if someone would have told me 15 years ago that I’d be ‘this girl’ I think I would have laughed my ass off.

    Lovely post- so relatable.


  7. funnyisfamily says:

    If I would have read this post before kids, it would have made me anxious. Since my life is as syrupy and toy-strewn as yours, reading your words had a calming effect. So beautiful.


  8. delyrn says:

    Thank you so much for that beautifully written post. So true and so touching. I am most certainly not the person I thought I would be as a parent… and I am proud of the momma I have become.


  9. Jen says:

    You are such a lovely weaver of words and a truly elegant storyteller. You are, hands down, one of my very favorite reads. I loved this post so much. I could relate to every last comma ;)


  10. BananaWheels says:

    Perpetually assaulted by chaos – sounds about right. Great post. I’ve found that there is much less residue under the kitchen table if I just avoid it altogether.


  11. Natalie says:

    Thank u so much for this! I was like you are now after I had my first kid, but when the second came along I turned in to a perfectionist again. It’s been 3&1/2 yrs now feeling so unhappy, just starting now to try and live “happy”- so this has helped me tremendously! So thanks again!


  12. I don’t have any children of my own, but I have been afforded the opportunity to be dad to a beautiful set of 3 year old twin girls. “The Twins,” as their affectionately called, the oldest being born with a heart deficiency, have truly showed me what it’s like to be a full-time parent. Them, with their innocence, and unwitty curiosity reminds me of how rambunctious and crazy I was at their ages. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes because it made me remember life when it was easy; no bills, no angers, frustrations, heartaches, or headaches… But it also makes me grasp hold to my own personal motto, “Nothing worth doing is ever easy!” Thank you for a chance to reminisce and walk down memory lane! :)


  13. Oh to be in my 20s and know everything again…. Why is it that the older I get, the more clearly I realize I know nothing?


  14. Lauren says:

    <3 Beautifully written and unbelievably relatable!


  15. tarrtarr says:

    I love the way you see your children — they really are just little webs of personality, curiosity and wonder. I remember when I was really young, and that’s how I felt. They’re aware of their innocence even if they can’t voice it.

    You’re a good mom, I can tell just by the way you write. Don’t let your kids slip away, because they will love you no matter what.


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