Jeff has a birthday coming up this spring, which reminds us both that we are firmly entrenched in the decade of our thirties. It’s a busy phase of life for us, what with these hundred children we have running around now. My first and my fourth babies were born exactly ten years apart. This is great as I have a helpful and eager big bro who loves to tote his baby brother around and even feed him bottles or rock him to sleep on occasion. It’s also completely strange having children spread widely among divergent stages and interests.
One of my weirder I’m-such-a-grown-up moments happened last fall as I (pregnant with Truman) watched Charlie play trains in the waiting room of Henry’s orthodontist, while I meanwhile texted Jack’s therapist to ensure she would be arriving in time to get Jack off the bus. When one dreams about becoming a parent, it doesn’t usually involve visions of orthodontia. Or behavior therapy, premature babies, and potty-resistant three-year-olds. But while my pre-baby visions of motherhood didn’t necessarily foresee some of the complex family dynamics we face, that doesn’t mean they are unwelcome. Parenting, I have found, involves a great deal of stamina, creativity, problem-solving skills, and emotional endurance. I couldn’t have imagined back in the day what life with my children would look like. We really aren’t “typical,” yet it is our eccentricities which make us interesting. It’s the weird unpredictable stuff that compels us to grow.
In graduate school I had a quote from the theorist Michel Foucault taped to my desk which said, “What is true of writing … is also true of life. The game is worthwhile in so much as we do not know what will be the end.” It’s the unknowns in the journey that are part of the excitement and appeal of raising a family. I was born with some perfectionist tendencies, which I really wasn’t proud of. Fortunately, my kids have pretty effectively beaten the fruitless quest for perfection out of me. Jeff and I have resolved to live more in the moment and less for the future. We’re trying to appreciate the present and just accept it for what it is. Except when it involves poop-smearing. Then we are going to just go ahead and hope for a better day.