As I sat holding our 3-year-old while our oldest took a nap, I felt utterly exhausted. I spent the previous few days and nights waking to clean up vomit or other bodily fluids, doing countless loads of laundry, bleaching down bathrooms, making two trips to the doctor for a strange rash which covered nearly every square inch of our oldest’s body, and not sleeping. And then when I thought the coast was clear, a high fever besieged her poor little body. For days I saw her sick, dehydrated, sometimes writhing in pain, and scratching incessantly at the hives.
But still I was thankful.
I was thankful I could be home to take care of our sick first-grader who had come down with a stomach flu overnight. Grateful to have a flexible work schedule where I could shut down my laptop and be present with her. So thankful I had time to be alone with our toddler amidst a terrible week when we focused mostly on caring for her older sister. But even more thankful knowing that this too shall pass, and she would get better.
Some parents don’t have that, the time we have with our kids. For her, this was just a bad stomach virus that lasted longer than normal, but it wasn’t life threatening. She doesn’t have a disease, or ongoing medical conditions, that makes life difficult every single day. This was just a part of going to school and building her immune system. And while the days and nights were incredibly long and trying for my husband and me, I still felt so lucky to be a mom.
But that’s what parenting is, isn’t it? Really, it’s just about your perspective.
Before having kids, we were so fearful of the unknown. And when conception didn’t happen naturally, I was terrified of going through IVF and the needles, but thinking about the outcome made the treatment tolerable.
Once becoming pregnant, I dreaded childbirth, so scared of how it might hurt, never trusting in nature taking its course. And then it happened, and I don’t even remember the pain or the complications. I survived, just as millions of other women do, and you know what? I did it again with baby number two.
Then, of course, came the fear that I would never get my body back, and I haven’t. But you know what, that’s OK. Because the body I have now is what it is because I carried those two precious girls.
And then came the doubts of whether or not I’d be a good mom or have the patience I needed to teach them. But eventually it came.
Through this journey, I’ve learned that just like life, parenting is all about perspective, and no matter what happens, I’m lucky to be a mom.
I have some friends who are terrified of having kids (just as I was). As they plan their weddings and read my funny posts on Facebook about how difficult parenthood is, all they see are the tough moments. They focus on the hardships and how their lives will change. And you know what—they will change, drastically.
Once you have kids, your life will never be the same as it was. You might still be able to party, but not quite as much. You can still have your career, but with it comes tremendous planning and balance. And you will always need to be prepared for, and expect, the unexpected. Because you never know when that flu will hit or when the next tantrum will come. But the rewards you reap are paramount, and they outweigh all of the trials of parenthood.
I never knew how much love my heart could hold until someone called me mommy.
It’s incredibly hard to describe to those who don’t have children how full your heart feels the second you hold your baby. Or how much you can’t wait to see them at the end of the work day, and see their smiles as they run excitedly to you. Just hearing them call you mommy makes you tear up, and feeling them fit snugly onto your lap is like a piece of a puzzle you never knew was missing.
Being a parent is a gift in itself, and life does indeed change, but for the better. You will relive your childhood again, but through their eyes. You will rediscover the world in a new way with your child, and holidays and birthdays will always be so much more exciting. Because you now have your own family, legacy and circle of love to share it with.
While these past few days with our sick daughter could have been wretched, instead we remained grateful. We played games, cuddled, watched movies, and talked—just as the moment needed us to be. Because parenting is all about perspective, and this time I was lucky enough to just be mom.