50 Thoughts: The Best Part So Far

All these thoughts before 50 and the one thing I haven’t really talked about is the best part of my life up until now.

These kids of mine.

I mean, yeah, the ’80s were great and the music from that decade will forever be the soundtrack of my life. And I found myself a super life partner. But these kids of mine. These crazy, challenging, adorable-even-when-horrible kids. I don’t know that parenting was a destined life purpose or that I’d be less satisfied without them, because you can’t miss what you don’t know. But I would not have planned almost the last quarter century any other way.

Children were not, nor do they continue to be, an easy venture for my husband and I. I’ve written before about losing our first baby in the six month of pregnancy. And our oldest, now pushing 23, has special needs that no one definition accurately describes. Our middle just turned 21 and is at that point in his life where reality starts gently slapping you in the face, waking you from that 4-year dream that is college living, and our youngest, now 17, is trying to survive that hellish period that is the first semester of senior year where everything from a fall sports season to academics and college apps all converge to suck up more than 24 hours a day.

Tensions often run high around here.

Their stories are their stories and aside from the occasional advice column giving people what for when it comes to kids with special needs, I try to stay away from proselytizing too much about being a mommy. There’s so much of that out there in the white noise that is the blogosphere. I’m hopeful I made more right choices than wrong ones and stories about the once-in-a-blue-moon screaming fit or the time I put all the ice cream down the sink disposal because they were fighting over who got what flavor doesn’t take up too much of their future therapists’ time. But I didn’t want this 50-day exercise conclude without sharing how parenting changed me.

Being a parent made me a much MUCH more empathetic human being that I think I would have been had I not had these kids. I know now what it’s like to give your heart so completely to your child, only to watch them struggle, especially in the face of bullying. There’s no amount of love that takes the sting out of being excluded, teased, taunted and ignored. I can look at other parents now with eyes wide open, understanding how much it hurts to want to help and know that you can’t always fix the boo boo.

Being a parent expanded my perspective. What is good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. And maybe parenting styles I would have previously scoffed at now suddenly made sense. Toilet training and taking toddlers to a restaurant goes a long way toward smashing that judgmental barrier we threw up as a childless couple.

Being a parent kept me current. I can say with absolute certainty I would know nothing about pop culture today without kids in the house. This does not make me cool, but I am much better at Trivia Night.

Being a parent challenged me with such totality, physically and emotionally. Those 2 a.m. feedings and all-nighters with a baby suffering from an ear infection is just practice for those sleepless nights when they are teenagers. From an emotional perspective, there have been times I had to really dig deep to keep it together in the face of counselors, other parents, my husband and friends. There are times you want to crumble, but can’t. CAN’T. Your child needs you.

Being a parent redefined love. I love my husband. That relationship is of the utmost importance to me. I do feel an allegiance, a responsibility to our vows that I respect. But the responsibility that comes with a child is all encompassing, even long after they leave the nest. That old adage about walking around with your heart outside of your body is pretty spot on. Every physical and emotional bump and bruise they encounter reverberates in you. There is an overwhelming desire to protect them from hurt, from heartbreak, from disappointment. It’s the push and pull of loving and teaching and guiding that keeps you from encasing them in bubblewrap and giving them the moon. It’s understanding even when the lessons are hard, it’s because you love them so much that you soldier on.

These kids may soon be out and on their own, but I will never stop loving them as much as I did the moment they came into my world, and I am so, so grateful for everything they have taught me.

Day 1: 50 Days, 50 Thoughts, 50 Books. Book recommendation: The Bitch is Back

Day 2: There Aren’t Any Do-Overs, Are There? Book Recommendation: A Place for Us

Day 3: Is Pop Culture Circling the Drain? Book recommendation: Live from New York

Day 4: Perimenopause in the Age of Trump Book Recommendation: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Day 5: Take A Knee at the Altar of Common Sense Book Recommendation: How Not to Be a Dick

Day 6: Perspective is the Gift That Keeps on Giving Book Recommendation: A Fine Balance

Day 7: The Accidental Editor Book Recommendation: Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977 – 2002)

Day 8: The First Last of the Firsts Book Recommendation: The Little Book of Hygge

Day 9: All Kinds of Tired Book Recommendation: Believer

Day 10: Overthinking is Anxiety’s Bitchy Best Friend Book Recommendation: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Day 11: Where Would You go with a Wayback Machine? Book Recommendation: A Little Life

Day 12: Fall in my Favorite Chicago

Day 13: On Having It All Book Recommendation: Lean In

Day 14: Where Were You When … Book Recommendation: The Nix

Day 15: 5 Things to Purge Before you Turn 50 Book Recommendation: The Art of Tidying Up

Day 16: A Labor Day Salute to Bad Bosses Everywhere Book Recommendation: Steve Jobs

Day 17: Do You Validate?  Book Recommendation: Less 

Day 18: Identity Crisis Code Purple Book Recommendation: Amp’d

Day 19: Character Really Does Count Book Recommendation: Believer

Day 20: Death Before Public Speaking Book Recommendation: The Gifts of Imperfection

Day 21: 15 Things You Should Do Before You Turn 50 Book Recommendation: Drop Dead Healthy

Day 22: Calling BS on “Sticks and Stones” Book Recommendation: Love Warrior

Day 23: My Feet Are My Favorite Part of Me Book Recommendation: Born to Run

Day 24: Self-Help Books Aren’t Half Bad  Book Recommendation: The Book of Joy

Day 25: Going for Gratitude Book Recommendation: The Gratitude Diaries

Day 26: Past Self Meets Future Self Book Recommendation: A Wrinkle in Time

Day 27: The Book is Always Better Book Recommendation: Big Little Lies

Day 28: Three Cheers for Volunteers Book Recommendation: A Secret Gift

Day 29: The Social Network Book Recommendation: The Circle

Day 30: 50 People Who Can Text Me Before Trump Does Book Recommendation: Purity 

Day 31: I’ll Take My Joy Where I Can Find It Book Recommendation: The Book of Joy

Day 32: Humor is My Sixth Sense Book Recommendation: Sick in the Head

Day 33: Anger Comes Second Book Recommendation: The Leftovers

Day 34: Hypocrisy, Much? Book Recommendation: The Favorite Sister

Day 35: Girl Power Book Recommendation:Girls

Day 36: The Kids are All Right Book Recommendation: Ohio

Day 37: Banned Books Week Book Recommendation: the Banned Books list

Day 38: An Open Letter to Congress Book Recommendation: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Day 39: The Importance of Guilty Pleasures Book Recommendation: The Actress

Day 40: On Stories Never Told Book Recommendation: After Visiting Friends

Day 41: Thank You, Judge Kavanaugh Book Recommendation: Missoula

Day 42: With a Little Help from My Friends Book Recommendation: Bad Feminist

Day 43: Life Doesn’t Flash ... Book Recommendation: Shotgun Lovesongs

Day 44: Crazy Love Book Recommendation: To Be Sung Underwater

Day 45: Simplify, Simplify, Save It Book Recommendation: The Immortalists

Day 46: Ready (or not) for 50 Book Recommendation: The Snow Child

Today’s recommendation: Oh my gosh, the heart wrenching parental angst in The Light Between Oceans. Yes.

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Filed under: Mama Drama, mumbo jumbo

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