Someone once told me that the first few sentences of any written anything need to have a darn good hook so the readers get well and truly caught on your words. Now, maybe that’s true. It most probably is, but I quite really care a whole lot less about a darn good hook and a whole lot more about telling the darn good truth.
No matter how you slice it, parenting is hard.
Raising children continually tests our breaking point, but stating that is like saying that the hardest part of climbing a mountain is getting worn out.
It’s not even worth saying, really. It’s the truth, yes, but it’s about as interesting as reading Goodnight Moon for the fifty-seventh time. I could run up and down my street yelling, the sky – it’s blue, the sky – it’s blue, the sky – it’s blue, and, well, you’d grow tired of this astonishing revelation pretty quick. You’d actually probably even call the cops.
But you see, it’s caught up — this (mostly) solo parenting two kids for four weeks thing while Joel – in all his spare time – sorts out this bloody house we’re renovating. From the minute I stepped out of that hospital, I feel like someone fired one of those starter guns and said Ready, Steady, GO! and off I went, flung into the world of two kids hanging off me and four lives to run on my own. In the beginning, I hopped on this ride beaming. It was all weeeeeeeeee, look at me with two kids on my own, wahooooooo, I’ve totally got this. Now it’s all, okay rollercoaster? Stop now. I want the merry go round. The calm one. Where I just bob up and down a bit. Yep, I’ll take that one, please.
These little posts I write? I stay up until midnight writing them, because it’s the only slice of freedom and quiet I get, but if I didn’t write, well, I’d just spaz out. Because my daughter? She wants eggs for breakfast. And so I say, okay, we just have to cook them. And then she says, no cooking eggs, NO COOKING. And so I say, honey, we have to cook them, it won’t take long. And then she says, No! NO COOKING EEEEEEEEEEEEGGS and off her body goes again, flung to the floor in hysterics. And my son, well, he is stuck to me like glue. His needs are simple, really, but they never stop.
And so, the “parenting is hard” flag has been well and truly raised at our house, flapping about like a dying fish on a boat.
Which brings me to my next point.
May we all huddle close because I’ve got a high-kickin’, arm-flailing defence against the Parenting Is Hard spiel. From Finding Nemo, naturally. Because, you guys, fish KNOW STUFF.
Dory: Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?
Marlin: No I don’t wanna know.
Dory: [singing] Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.
Yep, it’s totally stuck to my fridge. Thank you, Finding Nemo.
JUST KEEP SWIMMING.
It’s my new motto.
This far into parenting, I’ve learnt that for every wave that tries to take me out, there’s an easy current around the bend. I know that for every rip and shark and unstable kid on a boogie board trying to wipe me out, around the bend lies sun-kissed, calm, aqua blue waters which, when I float in, lift me to such euphoria, I’m reminded that I love the ocean more than anything I’ve ever loved. By now, I know that there is always an easy current around the bend, maybe that same day, maybe next week, maybe a little while longer. And so, we just keep swimming. We swim like mad to stay afloat until we reach it because we also know that one day, our babies will be out of the water and into the world. We will drop them off at the shoreline and miss them forever.
And along the way, we learn that the ocean is where it all happens. It’s wild and tumultuous and breathtakingly beautiful all at the same time, and despite the daily risk of drowning, soon, always, easy currents come and they sweep us away with their magic.
Like just me and her dates.
Like a ten minute nail painting session, and the way she loves to blow my nails to make sure they dry.
Like pajama breakfasts down at the yacht club, where the four of us can spend a rare morning being together.
Like treasured moments just with him, outlining his every feature, noticing how much he has already changed.
Like seaside walks with my two babies, stashing flowers in the back of the pram, the fresh air soothing all of us, reminding me just what a beautiful part of the world we live in.
Like watching her at the playground, made happy by her happiness.
Like watching these two, piled on top of laundry, witnessing a bond I hope they’ll have for always.
Vince Lombardi once said, “I firmly believe any man’s finest, the greatest fulfillment of all he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.”
I know this exhaustion. I live it every day. And I know it’s sweet, because although working my heart out in good cause almost breaks me most days, it makes me feel alive, it pushes me to be my best self, and it makes me utterly grateful for stepping into this seat, buckling up and experiencing what Kelly Corrigan calls The Great Adventure.
“It’s a lonely business, and then sometimes strangely claustrophobic. But this is it. This is what I wanted. And what my very sick friend Liz wants more of. And what good people get pulled away from every day, kicking and screaming. This abstract performance we call family life is our one run at the ultimate improv. Our chance to be great for someone — to give another person everything they need to be happy. Ours to apologize for, to try again for, to get a little more right next time for. Ours to watch disappear into their next self. Toddler to tike. Tween to teen. Ours to drop off somewhere and miss forever. It’s happening right now, whether we attend to it or not. We get to be here, recognizing once again the one thing we must stop forgetting. This is it. This is the great adventure.”
Kelly, I love you. You say everything I’ve ever thought, and you say it so damn well. Listen to her short five minute video – an excerpt of her book- here. It will change you. Promise.
And because Finding Nemo might possibly be the wisest movie I’ve ever seen, may I leave you with another gem.
Marlin: I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.
Dory: Hmm. That’s a funny thing to promise.
Dory: Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.
Not much fun for little Harpo.
MAY EVERYTHING ALWAYS HAPPEN TO US.
ALWAYS UNTIL THE END.
And lastly, wrapping up the 28 Favourite Days photo challenge. Thank you to all those who participated — I hope you had fun! I’ve so loved seeing your small happies and slices of your lives.
The second half:
And some of my favourites of yours:
Happy Monday, friends. May everything always happen to you.