Life is strange.
We work and plan
We grow and diminish
Grow further still.
So many unknowns
We must stay light on our feet
Ready to volley and pitch
Shoot from the center line
Working, resting, and never abandoning hope
While the great world spins
And our questions out-weigh any assurance of answers
Within and without
And we press on
Hoping we leave it a little better than when we arrived.
* * *
When I was younger, I saw myself as a one-day president and global game-changer. Ambitious and smart. A little broken, but that was good for remembering that people mattered. I looked for ways to change the world and build my resume.
I never saw myself as a mum. Ever.
Until the day Magpie was born.
Again as Kenan breathed in his first big gulp of Kansas autumn air.
Even then, I saw myself more of a mom-fraud and temporary caregiver on my way to the White House.
I’d never babysat in high school – except once. There was a reason for that.
Changing a baby’s diaper? What?
Wiping spit and goo, rinse, and repeat? Huh?
Powering down to “wife and mum” from “CHANGE THE WORLD” terrified me.
Would my life matter?
But then something happened and it made all of the difference.
Madi was a long skinny noodley baby with a keen eye and investigative nature. Despite her many diaper adventures and midnight snacking; her complete babyhood dependency on her dad and I, she was chock full of smarticles from the beginning. She was (is) adept at keeping me on my toes and at a crazy early age, mastered the art of perfect comedic timing and expression. I fell in love.
We decided that I’d try this new thing of working and researching from home while being full-on mum. At the time, we had my pup, Fester, and a beautiful bungalow that needed a bit of mending. Puree the peas, pick up the pieces of baby life, ongoing social research, and guilt of not doing more with my life.
Then came Kenan. Holy Cats. He was the jolliest most laid-back kid on the planet. He wove “jolly” with “smart” and “crash” into such a person! He let Madi lead for a bit and watched; taking his cues and his tumbles with remarkable joy. Before he was born, I felt distinctly that he would be a warrior of sorts…so I did all I could to focus him on everything, but war and soldiering without squelching his curiosity. Guess what? He’s a soldier finishing his college studies and pursuing a career of leading towards (what I hope) is a palpable peace. In him, I learned I could fall in love more than once.
Two kids in 17 months for a woman who was told to “forget having children because physically it is not possible.” Deep down, I had always known that being a mom – a good and loving mum – was IMPOSSIBLE for me. No real models (except a few teachers including Mr. Carrier and Mr. Entwhistle), no desire, and a guiding responsibility to use what I’d been vested towards the bettering of a broken world.
Two sparky kids in 17 months. Oh boy.
You know what? In the scrabbling, trial and many errors; tears, crackalackin’ goofiness, company of friends, through prairie winds and hurricanes of grief, being their mum is my best offering to the world.
Even with failures in hand and some rememberings that cause tears, being their mom is the best and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done.
Ski off a cliff? Check.
Climb mountain outcrops without benefit of belay? (Stupid.) Check.
Pay-as-you-go college degree
New jobs and new countries
Hitch-hike across a few borders
Dance in public
Great expectations? Check.
None of those “wins” compare with what I knew I’d never be able to accomplish; have kids and accompany them through their growing without fully failing and fostering great human mess.
They taught me what to do.
Friends walked beside me.
I asked for help and kept (keep) learning.
And boy did Parenting with Love and Logic help make parenting a comedic adventure!
Madi and Kenan readily forgave me and forgive me still.
So as I search for the next place to invest my time and talent, I know that I’ve already helped to change the world. The pressure is off.
I can do no more than love these great people and in loving them, I know my life matters. The rest is gravy.
And I never saw it coming.