Friday, January 25, 2013

Being Grateful Even When You're Not

The other night, at bedtime, Mathilda treated us to an all-out temper tantrum worthy of the most dysfunctional Supernanny family you've ever seen. She was up several times throughout the night, crying for no discernible reason, beckoning me to her room time and again. The next morning, as I was awakened to the sound of Mathilda screaming 15 minutes before my alarm went off, I could feel the irritation shrouding me like a leaden blanket. Soon Lucy joined in, crying loudly and hysterically that she would not be eating her breakfast until someone killed the spider in the dining room.  No one was  happy, everyone had a complaint. Exhausted, I was feeling overwhelmed with noise and crying and whining and lack of sleep. I felt ready to snap.

Then a little voice piped up, making its way through the thick grogginess clouding my brain. That voice said, 

"This is the life you wanted. Be grateful for it." 

Normally I'm moving too fast to pay much mind to little voices trying to be heard. I can talk about the importance of slowing down and stopping to smell the roses, and once in awhile I might even actually do it, but the reality is that on a regular day, under normal circumstances, things are moving at race pace most of the time around here. In the midst of dealing with someone's crisis, I'm multi-tasking at least a few other things: plotting out phone calls and trips to the grocery store, flipping or stirring whatever is cooking on the stove, responding to texts, and reminding somebody to feed the dog. I get that this isn't ideal, but what can I say? There's only one of me. However, on this particular morning, I was just that right combination of half-asleep and cognizant enough to hear the message of my inner voice and take mind of it.

Hearing the message that my subconscious was trying gently to assert, I paused and even smiled. Because, of course, it's true. This is the life I wanted. Complete with chaos and craziness and bad days. I wanted a big, loud family, with kids chattering and running all around. I wanted children climbing on my lap while I try to work and hanging from my leg as I attempt to make dinner. I wanted kids begging for one more story and beseeching me to cuddle them while they watch television. I wanted little hands needing to be held and Eskimo kisses accompanied with heartfelt conversation - even though it's long past bedtime. I wanted friends adding to the noise and children sprawled, fast asleep, all across the couch and floor; requests for homemade waffles and pleas for a trip to the mall.

I wanted to be immersed in the role of motherhood, and there is no denying that I am.

Yes, it's true that I'm often disappointed. I have moments when I admit that life hasn't turned out exactly as I'd hoped. But let's be real. In our dreams and aspirations, we tend to leave out the ugly, unpleasant bits that are inevitably going to be part of the package. We don't, as in my case, think to ourselves: I want four beautiful children, and I can't wait to break up their incessant bickering and carry them to time out ten times before they finally calm down. But real life includes those temper tantrums and crying fits. It includes not quite making it the toilet and spilling an entire bowl of cereal with expensive organic milk. It includes emotional outbursts that have no concrete cause, frequent reminders to hang up coats and backpacks, and having the courage to say "no TV" even when all you want is a tiny window of peace and quiet that only the television babysitter can provide. So even if we don't consciously include the unpleasant aspects of our hopes and dreams as we fantasize about the future and what we want out of life, they will still be there.

I'll forget again. I'll get caught up in homework struggles and choosing battles and mountains of laundry. Because that is my life and my job. But right now, I remember: this is the life I wanted, and I am grateful for it.

1 comment:

Sgalla219 said...

This is just so so good and true and insightful. Even with just one child I allow myself to get overwhelmed and I appreciate the reminder. I couldn't imagine juggling four!