"I think that parenting young children (and old ones too) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb is an impressive accomplishment. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers, “Are you enjoying yourself?! If not, you should be! One day you’ll be sorry you didn’t!” those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
My point is this: I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory.
And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
“It’s helluva hard isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. Carry on, warrior. Six hours ’til bedtime.”
And hopefully every once in awhile I’ll add, “let me pick up that grocery bill for ya sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up. I’ll have them bring your groceries out.”
- Glennon Doyle Melton