A few of my dear friends are about to become mothers, which has me thinking about all the ways that having a child changes us, how parenthood reaches down inside us and pushes things around, rearranges parts of us that we had thought were fixed and immutable, and how there is no possible way to prepare for that kind of continental shift in our lives. All of our convictions and priorities get tossed into the air and spun around and around until they settle down into this whole new pattern that is parenthood. I can't help but remember how exciting and suprising and disorienting that journey was. Still is. How we can become big enough to hold within us these whole other lives, how we can become small enough to hear the faintest whisper of a breath, see the barest flicker of an eyelid. How we become every mother and every child becomes our child, and how this very fact breaks our hearts every day and give us immeasurable hope.
I am also reminded how our lives change in the smallest, oddest, and most mundane ways as well. How I nearly cried from gratitute a few weeks ago when I had just strapped two tired, hungry, complaining children into our sweltering car and the lovely lady in the smart white business suit who had just gotten into her spotless BMW next to us got back out of her car and said, "I'll return your cart for you."
I am reminded that there are idyllic days, full of mama-calm and sweet kid moments, and days when frustration is my constant companion. There are days when my patience is as deep as the ocean and days when it is a muddy little puddle. And kids, you know what they do with puddles. But those days, every single one of them, ends. And we do our best. And wake up again the next morning with little-kid fingers curling around our arms and start a whole new day.
So my advice is forget about advice. Put down the parenting books. Forgive yourself those days. And be grateful for small kindnesses.