The Part of Parenting I'm Good At

mom kissing sonThese past few months have not been my favorites. I’ll be honest; it has been a bit of a rough ride. Suddenly, the entrance of my youngest into kindergarten has hit me like a brick. The days that used to feel like gifts are beginning to feel lonely. It is a new phase, and the change is harder than I thought it would be.

My head has become my enemy. Not just because I have been down, but also because my migraines have returned with a vengeance. They visit me frequently and set up shop up in my head for longer and longer periods. I have been afraid of my own brain for the last couple of months.

There are days when I do not want to let the outside world in. The news has been my best buddy since I was a kid. Now, however, I find myself shying away from it. I try to avoid turning on the computer, the TV or the radio. The daily dose of news feels like an onslaught to me lately. News of planes disappearing and mudslides and global warming and why everyone who doesn’t share your opinion is awful are sometimes just too much. I hear others talk of their pain all day and it begins to seep into my bones as well. A sense of foreboding is not a good friend to spend the day with. Trust me there.

And so, it has been hard.

But I dropped off my older guy at school today. It is a sunny morning. He’s nearly 10 years old now. He has braces. He learned how to spell HELL on his calculator yesterday. He wears homemade football jerseys to school almost everyday and spends most of his free time playing ball in our front yard.

And this big kid with a new haircut and a smile full of silver stood and waited until I was all the way gone before walking onto the playground. He watched me drive away and blew me kisses the whole time. Waves and kisses blown without concern about how he looked or who might be watching.

The beauty of that moment almost took my breath away.

I felt, in that instant, that he was blowing me lifelines. Bridges that I need to span the vast canyons of hurt that can fill our lives. These are what my family gives me. They give me tiny perfect moments, and those moments build bridges for me. The hurt of illness and mudslides and relationships and pain can be crossed over.

boys playing football

I am so goddamned lucky to get them.

It’s a kiss blown or a kid calling me to snuggle when he’s scared or can’t sleep. It’s my husband reaching over when we’re watching a movie and grabbing my hand just like he did when we saw our first movie together so many years ago. Wordlessly rubbing my crinkly hand back and forth with his thumb and giving me a slight smile. It’s watching my younger guy’s joy at getting his first T-ball uniform and insisting he wear it all night. It’s a phone call from a loved one far away.

These tiny moments allow me to move forward. There are worlds of hurt all around but, for me, I use these slivers of light to ease my path. This is all I know.

I am not good at handling four million tasks at once and organizing fantastic parties and having a brilliant career and solving every crisis. But, this is the part of mothering that I’m good at.

I find the tiny things that ease my way. I hope that my boys will learn this from me.

I have the ability to see these moments. In my mind, I spread them before me. I imagine them like delicate pieces of lace, and I shake them open. I pull the edges and glide my hand over them, feeling the tiny bumps. As I do this, my heart calms and my insides fill with warmth. I can take that moment and I can live in it a little bit. It can sustain me.

My headache eases, the news fades, the hurt of friends or strangers eases for a moment, the pain that might live in me on that day sits down and obeys. It admits defeat for a while. We live in the joy. We live in the light.

We take in these moments together — all of the pieces of me. The pieces that are sad, the pieces that are scared, the pieces that hurt, that wish they could do more to fix problems. We all just stop and rest. And we enjoy those moments of love.

There are days when that is enough.

Read Next