Thursday, February 14, 2013

In Honor of My Favorite Bees

Just now I was wondering about the genesis of St. Valentine's Day, so I did a spoonful of research.  According to one Catholic website that I consulted, "St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people."  I am deeply amused that there is a patron saint of beekeeping, epilepsy and plague, and that a single saint is responsible for all of them.  (And the story of his demise is a bit. . .horrific.)  But anyway, I think it's lovely that he's the patron saint of young people, happy marriages, love and lovers.  That's a whole lot of love.  And also, there's quite a bit in his job description which I had never known before.  Which got me thinking about being a mother, and how it's simultaneously nothing like and exactly what I imagined it would be, just like St. Valentine.

I definitely delayed motherhood because I thought it would be impossibly hard.  For many years (ie, my 20's and a chunk of my 30's), motherhood seemed like such a burden to me, something that was inherently difficult, but also something which was hard in a larger sense, because it prevented women from doing the things they wanted.  (Yeah, there is some baggage there--my own mother made a lot of sacrifices for us, and although she would never, ever put it in the terms I do, that was my perception).  Gradually, I came to realize that human beings have choices and free will, and that having a family wasn't incompatible with doing other things I love.  I ceased to see it as something that would prevent me from living my best life, but rather instead began to see it as something that would enhance my life and make my life even better.

But even still, I expected motherhood to be inherently challenging.  I fretted over the time commitment, the sleep deprivation, the million things that are hard about being a parent.  I did not enter parenthood lightly.  But my perceptions and my expectations were so much bleaker than my reality.  Parenthood has been such a pleasant surprise for me, in that I expected it to be so much MORE work than it actually is.  Admittedly, there are some hard hours, like those early days when it feels like the baby never sleeps and always wants to eat, or stomach flu days when you've woken up in puke and subsequently do nothing but deal with gross bodily fluids, or the day your kid bites someone in daycare, or the months you spend trying to potty train, to no avail. . .And yet, the hard moments are really not so bad, and they are mostly few and far between.

But what I really wanted to talk about, and what I really underestimated, was how truly fabulous life with two small children is.  It's all just so magical, Christmas and birthdays and first trips to Disneyland Paris and that time the unicorn appeared right on our doorstep and started farting rainbows, and. . .

Okay, it's not always "magical", but it's pretty great.  But those things I just mentioned, the holidays and big events, they are not my favorite moments.  Do you know what has been so amazing, so special, so important, what makes me so happy beyond any measure of happiness?

  • Laying in bed with Miss M at night after I read her stories and turn out the lights, and just talking.   We talk about her day and the next day and anything and everything in between, and I get to listen to whatever is going on in her little head.  Sometimes, it's fantastical things, and other times, it's a confession of whatever happened during the day.  Tonight she told me she hit another child at school because he was spitting at her for playing with the trains.  She just speaks in such an innocent and honest way.  I treasure every single conversation.
  • Doing silly, pedestrian crafts with Miss M.  Last night we made cards for her classmates for Valentine's Day, out of construction paper and stickers and lacy hearts that I bought at Tar.get.  It was such a blast to watch her little mind work.
  • Reading books with Miss M, and seeing what she falls in love with.  This week it was a Spanish version of Jack and the beanstalk, in which the giant (or, gigante) gets chile seeds in his eyes, starts crying, and transforms into the boy's father as the tears wash over him.  She loves books, too, but has her own taste entirely, and it's so fun to see how much she likes to go to the library and get new ones.
  • Holding SB in my arms, watching her beam up at me.  I could hold that child all day.  She is so smily, so loving.  Plus, she gives the BEST hugs, and has since she was a tiny baby.  I don't know where she learned to give such big, warm, embracing hugs, but she is JUST like her father in that way.  He also gives the best hugs.
  • Watching little personalities develop.
  • Watching my girls sit and play together on the floor.
  • Seeing SB light up when Miss M pays attention to her, and watching Miss M entertain SB.  She instinctively seems to know just the right pitch to use and what to say to make SB crack up, and it's hilarious to watch them interact.
  • Going for long walks with the girls in the stroller and T by my side, having long conversations as  we walk.  They are content to hang out and watch the world go by, and we finish up by hanging out at a museum or wherever we have walked to. . .pure bliss for all of us.
  • Seeing what funny, kind, honest, irreverent, happy, pleasant children they are turning into. . .(most of the time).
In short, it is the little things in our family life, the everyday, mundane, pedestrian, ordinary moments that matter most and which I love the best.  It is the moments when we are walking to catch the bus, her little hand in mine, or holding SB while I drink my morning coffee.  It's the quiet space in between the moments which matters most of all.


Jess @ said...

It most certainly is the every day things that make mommyhood.

JustHeather said...

Those are the exact sort of things I am finding I love the most too. While I don't want my little guy to grow up (it's happening too fast!), I'm loving seeing everything new that happens and he learns.
Glad motherhood/parenthood is so much better than you feared.

Rebeccah said...

Yes, I couldn't agree more!