Today’s blog post is guest-written by the lovely Shandall Green, who also writes awesome book reviews over at coffeeandnonversation.wordpress.com
“Children are awesome!” That’s what I was told over and over again when I was pregnant with my first child. That’s how it always started and was invariably followed by a list of the miseries my children would bring upon me; I would never sleep again, I would constantly be poor, I could kiss all the romance in my marriage goodbye, etc. It made an already terrified, expectant mother all the more scared. What was more unsettling is that almost no one could say definitively why children were purported to be “awesome”. Now, 9 years after having my eldest, and just a few short months after delivering my youngest, I will attempt to put into words the awesomeness that is parenting.
First off, they add richness. Example: You are like a bowl of plain ice cream. Getting married is like adding hot fudge (emphasis on the “hot”). Having babies is like sprinkling all your favorite candies and nuts on top with whipped cream and a cherry. Without all of that, it’s just hot fudge and ice cream. The rest makes it something really special, crazy, but special.
Well, when that baby and her brother did arrive, I remember being enamored with each new thing my they did. “Look how alert he is when he stares at the fan!” “She discovered her hands today! She’s so smart!” and so on… I remember this feeling. But the arrival of my newest baby, a tagalong that we’ve loving dubbed Evangeline, I am experiencing again just how powerful that fascination is. Every time her eyes flutter open, I eagerly, admiringly look into them trying to discern their color, smitten with their beauty. Every time a smile graces her face, I could just burst with how darling she is! From her tiny, fat feet with long, delicate toes that she now likes to nibble, to her tiny hands and their fine, feminine fingers, I am in love! How could someone so miniscule, utterly helpless be so singularly captivating?
And each child adds his or her own flavor. My oldest, a blonde beauty at nine, has an imagination that is simultaneously bewildering and engaging, but with a deep-seated commitment to honesty that I cannot praise enough. My middle child, a rambunctious boy of seven, has huge blue eyes, a servant’s heart, and a mind that continually amazes me in its quickness.
Secondly, they are the best legacy you could leave. I love seeing glimpses of my husband, a man whom I admire more than I could ever express, in my children. I give thanks that, when he is gone, a part of him will linger on the earth to grace the world with his cleverness, his compassion, and his steadfastness. Or you could take the stance that you will continue to heckle the world from the grave by leaving behind your children…that might be a more accurate picture of what I’m leaving behind.
From a practical standpoint, they will eventually learn to wash dishes, do laundry, and take out the trash. All those things that are supposed to make me miserable–the endless stream of dirty laundry, dishes, and toys about the house–have a shelf life. Like every stage, diapers do end–one of my moments of great triumph came when my six-year-old said he needed to go to the bathroom in a restaurant and I had only to point him toward the facilities with a reminder to wash his hands. Carrying a heavy, awkward car seat is replaced with a toddling, stumbling picture of pride. Sleeping in shifts gives way to sneaking off for a Sunday afternoon nap while the kids play Legos or–get this–read a book! Making meals three times a day transforms as you teach them to clumsily spread their own peanut butter, then make macaroni and cheese, then fry an egg, etc. And then, one day, your seven-year-old is handing you a bowl of steaming mac and cheese!
As far as romance, my children are not responsible for my marriage. So I will not blame them for its flaws. If they interfere with the growth of our marriage, that’s our fault. I will concede that our experience has not seen this to be the case. On the contrary, I have watched my husband become ever more desireable blowing raspberries at a baby and teaching my son to properly wield his new toolset. There’s something irresistible about a man acting all gooey over his children… Mmmm… Anyway, where was I?
I cannot speak to the teen years. We’re eyeballing them over the curve of a few short years. But I remain optimistic. If folks were so wrong about everything else, well, maybe they’re wrong about this, too.
I’ll skip a little further down the road. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoy visiting with my dad over a cup of coffee when he stops by in the morning. I imagine that he enjoys it, too, although it could just be the coffee. And there is also the reality that, as my parents get older, they lean more on their children to manage and care for them. If you have fostered a loving relationship with your kids, then failing health and loss of the ability to care for yourself are much less frightening. After all, you’re set in hands you trained yourself.
Then, there is always the possibility of grandchildren, with whom you are just as likely to be infatuated as you were with their parents. They’ll be tugging your heart-strings, taking your breath away, making you love them with some unseen bewitchment. And the richness continues, more sprinkles, more whipped cream, cookies and the like!
And the diapers? I almost forgot it because she was grinning at me the whole time. Or maybe it was so stinky and sloppy that my spouse and I were giggling and gagging by turns. Who knew poop could be so funny? But her face just turned bright red so I’d better go get the diaper bag.