32 years ago today I gave birth to my first child.
My family threw me a party when I brought him home. Maybe it was
- the 1.5 days of hard labour.
- The emergency c-section.
- The fact that I’d never really been interested in other people’s babies. Maybe it was because none of the doctors or nurses volunteered to come home with me to help with this hungry, crying, pooping creature.
All I remember is sitting on the couch and crying.
I really truly didn’t think I could parent, much less survive the night.
I know, not-so-great mom.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my son with a love I had never experienced before. It’s like my heart got up and walked clean out of my body and embraced my little son. At the same time, I felt like a little kid. I waited for someone to take the baby and tell me to go back outside and play with the other kids. I just didn’t together get it all right. And, as the months progressed, it showed.
I was a mom who
- forgot all about the baby every time the phone rang. More than once I ran back in the middle of a conversation to finish changing a dirty diaper.
- let a stranger hold her baby at the airport so she could run to the bathroom and then ran back in a panic hoping that stranger had not taken off with her son.
- took her 5 month son and visiting brother on a bike ride in Stanley park in the winter while it was raining.
Most times my house, my car and my hair were a mess. I didn’t make amazing meals. Woke up on Mondays after forgetting to wash school clothes on weekends. I messed up over and over. If parents got report cards I certainly would have made sure I lost mine on the way home.
But parenting is not
- a grade
- a project
- or even a contest
It’s about faith. It’s about courage. It’s about facing every day with three simple truths.
Eat. Pray. Love.
First, my apology to Elizabeth Gilbert. I confess I stole the title of your first best seller.
But, your awesome title was the only way to explain how this not-so-great mother managed to survive. It’s the reason my kids still talk to me, dare to associate with me in public after all the not-so-great parenting things I have done.
EAT- yeah, I know you’re smirking at this one. I don’t look like I missed many meals. But that’s not what I’m talking about. “Eat” is all about stopping everything to make a connection with your child. Like mealtimes. It’s not a battleground, or a chance to catch up on the dishes. It’s a moment you have your child’s attention, when they have yours. I tried to make the most of those slow-down-in-the-middle-of-chaos times. I would listen-really listen to my kids and respond to them. My dishes got dirty again no matter how many times I washed them. The floor got sticky no matter how many times I mopped. But, my children never stopped growing and changing no matter how busy my schedule became. They needed me to stop everything and just be present with them. Those moments built connections. Relationship. The greatest investment I ever made.
PRAY- There are not enough books or podcasts to help us fully master parenting. I went to God constantly with my worries and concerns and my fears. From the time my firstborn was itty bitty, I prayed about everything. You may think I was not as swift as other parents and I needed God more than most. But, maybe it’s just that I knew how much love my children needed. And as much as I loved them desperately, God loved them even more. He created them, knew them inside and out. I trusted God with them, their hearts, their future. I still do. And, I know from experience that God always comes through. Even for parents like me.
LOVE- this is the most glorious part. Josh was the first offspring to capture my heart. To start me on a journey of picnics in the backyard, birthday parties with dump truck cakes, of treasure hunts and story time. Even at a young age, my son had confidence. Confidence in who he was and what he wanted out of life. It shook my compliant personality to the core. Not everyone understood my strong-willed son. But my son gave me courage to trust the parenting process even when other people didn’t think I was doing it right. When my son grew up and went to college, it just about ripped my heart out. (I cried and cried. It’s kind of how I handle change. I know. Not-so-great mom.) But, that’s ok. Even though I let go, my love followed my son all along.
Today my oldest child Joshua Roy Hixson turns a wise and adventurous 32.
Most importantly, he and his wife are on a parenting journey of their own. It’s exciting to watch, even from far away. It’s not half as scary because I now know how forgiving this how process can be. No one is perfect. Stuff happens. There is so much we cannot control.
Thanks Josh for teaching me how exciting parenting can be. How forgiving the process can be. How imperfect people can raise children to be uniquely what they were created to be.
Happy birthday to an awesome firstborn. A devoted husband. A great dad.
Eat. Pray. Love.