By em-i-lis on May 11, 2014
Due to a whole host events including spring break, Easter and Passover, my oldest son's baseball team is making up a missed game by playing a double header today. On Mothers Day. My first reaction was “hmm…I might have to play hooky from one of those,” but then I thought about how I really enjoy watching the kids play, that it’s a wonderful group of parents and my youngest son has a great time seeing the siblings, and it’s supposed to be a pretty day; so whatever, play ball! Some of the other moms suggested making a party out of it; one thought having something catered would be fun; another felt the dads should motivate to bring the makings for a fete. Their spirit is excellent, and I wish I had the energy to make the giant layer cake recipe that Melissa Clark published in last Wednesday’s NY Times Dining section.
In any case, and although I have already learned this nine hundred times over, I was reminded that motherhood is largely an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” sort of enterprise and so I might as well just bring my folding chair and some ice water and enjoy things because otherwise, I will surely miss J’s most amazing play ever or some magnificent moment with Ol or a spontaneous visit with a friend or watching T pretend he’s not as engaged as he is. Good memories are often made when we just get out there and play, literally and figuratively; stronger connections are forged in casual times of togetherness, in moments of understanding and simply saying “ok.”
I think this is why college is such an unbelievable, largely unreplicable, seemingly magical time in life. You’re thrown together with all sorts of folks and then you spend enormous amounts of time together, as roommates, classmates, clubmates, partymates, hallmates, labmates, showermates, etc; you’re forced to just “play” with others for at least four years. During those activities, when you share, receive, observe, are challenged, discover commonalities, tend, assist and are helped, transformations occur. Though those can be positive or negative, the good ones foster closeness that is otherwise difficult to forge. The lesser ones are the stuff of life lessons, of notes-to-self for later dates.
It seems to me that in a slightly less equitable, longer term way, that’s what parenting is too. As with a potential new friend, your newborn is unknown to you. I loved my sons, Jack and Oliver, before they arrived, but I had no idea what either boy would be like. How could I have? And so I simply met them, with openness and eagerness and love.
Before language evolves, the connection between parent and child is largely one based on one-sided ministration. So you wait and care and respond and offer and a relationship blossoms and grows. And I’ve found that as long as I’m willing to remain open, our relationships will continue to evolve and deepen and become more reciprocal. Even (especially?) in the tough times, the chance for deeper understanding and connection is there.
Recently, I learned something new about our darling firstborn. It was nothing too surprising really, but nonetheless I found myself a bit breathless. I took a day to think. To process and reflect and consider and absorb. And then, as when a Southern rainstorm finally lets up, the sun shone down, making the droplets and puddles of water glimmer like diamonds instead of the soggy aftermath of some climatic pounding.
Deeper insight into my little boy birthed a new perspective on him and on my dealings with him. Some of the patience I wanted to have but simply couldn’t muster before emerged like a previously untapped wellspring, a salvo of understanding that changed and warmed my point of view considerably. What was once frustration became admiration, what was before concern felt newly like hope, what I didn’t understand I now honored.
And isn’t that a beautiful transformation?! A shift in understanding and a resultant appreciation that I know I’d welcome and feel he does too because what underpins such willingness to learn and change and respect is nothing more than love and a desire to connect and feel understood.
Last night, a friend and I went to hear Molly Wizenberg present her newest book, Delancey. If you’re not familiar with Molly, she is the blogger behind Orangette, the author of A Homemade Life, co-owner of restaurant and bar, Delancey and Essex respectively, woman, wife, mother, cook. She came across as real, honest and grounded, and when asked about why she writes, and why she writes about personal stuff, she simply responded (general summation mine), “writing helps me make sense of my life…I want to honor my truth but also respect the truths and privacy of those in my life…surely I’m not the only woman to have experienced post-partem depression or had a less-than-perfect moment in my marriage. Why aren’t we talking about these things?”
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