There is nothing like having kids to illustrate the breadth and depth of love. I love labor stories! I love hearing about how my friends have experienced labor and delivery. I adore those newborn pictures, of those tiny humans looking around in wonder at their new view of the world. The stories both awe and amuse me. For example, some of my friends decided to do all natural labor; some friends had birth plans. I know mothers who “winged it”, and I know mothers who have had to have every second of their experience monitored because of health reasons. I know some mothers who have ushered in children who have died within minutes of birth. All of these stories, and babies, and lives are beautiful, and brave, and courageous.
I, myself, have had three (very different) children, and have three very different birth stories. I was of the “give me drugs” variety, and “epidural immediately please” patient. That worked great for the first two, but Katie tried to arrive while I was being frantically driven to the hospital by my very stressed out mother. We made it- to the hospital, I mean- and I even got an epidural (which didn’t work), but she was born 45 minutes after I got to Labor and Delivery. It hurt. A lot. And here’s the thing: it still does.
Love is a great and wonderful and terrible and beautiful thing. Love speaks truth and love speaks honesty, and with truth and honesty sometimes we have to deal with being uncomfortable or having hurt feelings.
Love sometimes looks like saying no to a screaming toddler, and subsequently saying no to the full cart of groceries in the produce aisle so you can deal with your screaming toddler.
Love looks like safety helmets and knee pads. Love can be scraped knees after a solo two-wheeled bike ride. Sometimes it’s even a broken collarbone after learning how to do cartwheels, and doing one two many. Tears and smiles and shouts are all the things that make up this love business.
Now that I have teenagers, and a twenty year old(!), I find myself thinking about how much easier things were when they were younger. It’s so cliche, isn’t it? I couldn’t wait for things to get easier! I wished away the first year, just wanting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, and then lamented about how busy the toddler years were, and then couldn’t wait for them all to go to school, and then we decided to homeschool, and then I just wished for graduation... the list of wishes continues to grow. Love hasn’t gotten any easier, for sure. What was physical exhaustion fifteen years ago is now mental exhaustion.
Love looks a lot like a broken heart at times. Independence is awesome, and it has always been what I pray and hope for and write about, for that matter. However, these little independent creatures now have their own voice, and opinions, and ideas, and they frequently don’t match up with my thoughts and ideas about stuff. Love is letting go. Love is embracing your kids after a poor choice. Love is unconditional and love is a choice. It’s hard to stay calm while the thirteen year old is telling me that she shouldn’t have to get things for us in the house because we (parents) are perfectly capable of getting said things. It’s difficult to fathom that the sixteen year old would rather us not go to the prom celebration with her; that she wanted to do it alone. I love you. I correct you. I adore you. I am exhausted in love with you.
It’s OK, though, mamas and dads, they do still love us. It’s actually developmentally appropriate for our kids to want to separate from us as we all get older. It's a success, friends, when these loves decide to want to do something on their own. We (parents) however, need to be strong and courageous to show that love also looks a lot like trust. I trust you to drive the car solo. I trust you to make the right decision about that friendship. I trust you to keep in touch with me about difficult situations. I trust you to stay home alone. I trust that you will call me if you are in an unsafe situation. I trust that you will ask for my help. I love you. And although I want to lose my mind, I’m utilizing all the deep breathing techniques and prayers that I know of in order to not lose my mind.
Hang in there, parents! Keep calm, start practicing trust exercises, and parent on!