More often than not lately, parenting has felt like a delightful surprise. It's not always, of course. Sometimes it's like having an upset feral cat around while I'm trying to do...well, anything. Anything is difficult when you're responsible for an upset feral cat.
When so many good days line up with very few blips, it's easy to remember what makes parenting the best, most challenging yet rewarding responsibility I've ever chosen. It’s also impossible not to think about the time I was a foster parent, about our foster baby, and what might have been.
A few months ago—in fact, the day after I gave birth to my third son, Harry—I got an email from a nationally important organization inquiring about my freelance writing services. Which was exciting! So I wrote back honestly, saying that yeah I was interested but also I was still currently having my uterus pressed by nurses, so it might be a couple weeks before I could get to emailing them some writing samples.
The interview went well, then I fumbled the return, if you will. And thus came the thoughts and feelings.
I spent some time listening to Ethan this evening. When I first started writing on a blog, Ethan was only months old. He's almost 9 now. As he talked, I sat and studied his little face. Suddenly I was transported. When he eventually got up to get in the bath, I immediately wrote these reflections. This is unedited and not overthought, which makes for a nice change, amiright?
After several profound disappointments, I've been throwing myself into the Small Things: painting with Oliver, noticing the tiniest parts of nature, plating my food attractively. (Thanks in part to a book I read a long time ago, French Women Don't Get Fat, which taught me that since I can't help being American slob, I should at least approach meals like sacred moments rather than the slop trough.) These and more nuggets of wisdom in today's post!
If you're not sure whether you suffer from control delusions, start a garden. Farm animals? They're right out. Attempting to get involved with the life cycle whether plant or animal will quickly teach you a key truth: you are virtually powerless. Your hand in the process is merely tinkering at best, or interference at worst.
But thanks to my garden and my animals, I've learned how to live with failure—even the life-and-death kind.
Carrying a pregnancy and giving birth is incredible, a personally rare experience that intimately connects you to the mysterious cycle of life. If you can and want to, I say give it a try. But it's not what makes a family. Everything afterward is.