Then I was too close to it all. Too busy, too tired, too anxious.
It is impossible to put into words, even as one who has put most every thought and emotion into words, how I now feel about these past 30 years and about the young woman who will be celebrating her birthday today. Or about the three that followed her into the world through our home.
It is impossible to encapsulate everything we’ve shared and learned together.
It was a tough job – hard on all of us at times. And time consuming – full-time consuming. And one in which no matter how hard you tried, you were never sure you were doing it right.
I had been working at a community newspaper in Oregon until the day before my daughter was born. I covered the news from two small towns and a school district in suburbs south and west of Portland.
“I’m leaving and I won’t be coming back,” I wrote in a column before the labor pains started. “I’m going to be somebody’s mother.”
And then I said things about my hopes and dreams and plans for my family, which now sound perhaps naive, perhaps optimistic, but then it’s not always a good idea to go back and read what you wrote 30 years ago. I spoke, as well, of my insecurities regarding parenting. And I spoke of my decision to leave my career for my family.
They kept calling me at the hospital during the delivery, anxious to take a picture of my new baby and me to run with the column. As if deadline pressure when you’re writing isn’t bad enough, deadline pressure when you’re giving birth is a real stressor. But we made it and got a nice box on page A9 with the headline, “A newspaper story with a happy ending.”
But the ending was in fact a beginning, the beginning of the greatest and grandest, most draining and most worthwhile adventure of my life.
And now those who I’ve been with not only from their first breaths, but from the first beat of their hearts, are bringing their own children into the world, and doing it with their own dreams and hopes… and insecurities.
In a sweet circle, with my children now on their own, I’m again working at a community newspaper covering city and school news, this time in Utah.
But I’m different. I’m different for all the trips to the zoo, all the bedtime stories, for the chicken pox and the tantrums, for the soccer games and the school shopping, for the first dates and the broken hearts, for the homework and the report cards, for the hard decisions and the silly mistakes. For the sacrifice. For the love.
And the world is different too. For the amazing, unique, accomplished people who get really annoyed with me when I brag about them.
And if anyone out there is so in the middle of the thick of the parenting thing that they can’t see the significance, the value and the beauty of it all, hang on. If the day-to-day wash of demands, details, decisions and disappointments is filling so much of your life that there’s no time to breathe and look and see the vital nature of your work, then just maybe take the word of those who’ve lived it.
Motherhood is significant. It has value. It has beauty.
And it’s miraculous and incredible too.