Shortly before I became a mom, I read a quote from George Bernard Shaw. To me, it sums up the best part about being a parent. It says:
“The world is a flame that is constantly burning itself out,
but it catches fire again every time a child is born.”
I loved the quote so much I wrote it in my son’s journal. And now, as a mother of three, I read it to myself every once in a while and smile. It’s so true.
When I became a mother, something magical happened. It was like a Pandora’s box (the good kind) was opened and all these little treasures and memories that I didn’t even know existed were floating around within arm’s reach waiting to be grasped, loved, cherished, when the moment came.
The world was new again. Flowers were to be studied, grass was something to be explored, ladybugs examined, gravity tested. Clouds and sunshine, water and snow, fire trucks, faces, books. Literally every single thing my baby touched, saw, heard, and tasted was new. Brand spanking new. Like he was discovering a new universe. Which, in a way, he was.
It was marvelous to watch. Seeing the world through the eyes of my children is one of the greatest gifts they have given me.
But sadly, I so often focus on the challenging moments of child-rearing. Too often people ask how I am and I say, “tired,” or I roll my eyes as if to say, “these darn kids.” Yes, kids can wear me out. They require a lot. They test me—even when they don’t mean to—in ways I’ve never been tested before. Parenting is hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But, it also the greatest thing I have ever done. By a mile. And I don’t think we talk about that as much as we should. At least I don’t.
It’s fairly obvious that my children can bring out the worst in me, but what I forget to tell others is how they can also bring out the best.
I will never forget one night when my first son, Jacob, was about 9 months old. I was getting ready to lay him down in his crib for the night. The only light in the room was the leftover light from the sunset dimly illuminating the window shades. It was quiet, except for the low hum of the humidifier. I held him in my arms and swayed back and forth. In a simple act of rest and love, he laid his head on my shoulder. It was the first sign of affection I had received as a mom, and although it was just a head leaning on my shoulder, to me it felt like a hug. And as I stood there in that quiet dark nursery room, a pang of love so strong and deep overcame my heart. I had never felt so full with love. A kind of love I had never felt before, a love I didn’t even know existed.
It was a deep, all encompassing, bursting love. I think, like the Grinch, my heart grew ten times that day. My life is a lot fuller now because of my children. My heart knows more joy, more pain, more sacrifice, and more risk, than it ever knew in its previous 27 years of life.
So next time I am tempted to roll my eyes and gripe about the difficulties of being a mother of three, to another mother (or worse yet a mom-to-be), I am going to remember how much better off I am now than I was before. About how my heart is bigger, my memories richer, and my life fuller. And that’s the truth.