Prior to the arrival of my son, I was told versions of the following (to the same effect), many times – becoming a ‘Mum’ is both the toughest, and most wonderful experience you will ever be gifted with in life. I agree, and spend days at a time rocking between emotive waves of ‘tough’ and ‘wonderful’ in unique breaths. Leopard print umbrella with fedora hat, chosen by two-year old son for a beach walk = wonderful – high temperature and lack of appetite after toddler contracts a viral infection = tough.
To avoid any confusion, ‘tough’ in that equation was used to describe my heartache as I tend and care for my entire universe, along with the familiar pain and frustration peppered on this small human’s face each time he is limited by his ability to explain the level of discomfort he is experiencing. When (prior to parenthood), was it possible to feel so burdened by helplessness in observation? It is at this time I am thankful for the temporary reality of my son’s condition, and package up complete gratitude and compassion for those families suffering to cope with serious afflictions; sending them hope for brighter days…
The appointment of balance however to my ‘Mum’ experience is amazing – no matter how you dissect, translate or re-purpose the word ‘wonderful’ in context; it simply means ‘wonderful’ to everyone. It’s glorious and curious, of immense anticipation and collective celebration. ‘Tough’ however, leaks doubt and concern… It is a word that many of us use to describe things we do not wish to undertake, do again, or pursue. But what about a ‘wonderfully-tough’ take on parenthood? Sometimes this can be what highlights a silver lining in our private and ever-changing relationship with our children. Sometimes the result of feverish nights brings the relief of new teeth. Often first steps are made post finding determination in a fall. Perhaps new courage lingers in the excitement of graduating to a single bed? And maybe the desire for that blissfully-long embrace was developed while enduring a brief separation at day care or school.
Life will never be the same again – another statement pre-parenthood that leaves the door of expectation open and questionable; for how could it be now that we have another person for whom we are responsible for? Like most things in life that give us tingles, make us smile, fills us with warmth and joy – what worth would they have if not appreciated in light of challenge, exhaustion, discomfort and heartache?
As you reach for that next cuddle or prepare to wipe away that tear; “learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does”, Epictetus (c.55 – c.135), Greece.
Balance keeps us grateful, and gratefulness always brings new joy.