"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
School starts soon. In just a few weeks, I will be back in college for what seems like the hundredth time. Three classes this semester, three the next, and I'll earn my associate- if, and it is a very big if- I can pass all my classes, which are mostly math. Still, it's so close that I'm beginning to get excited. I've put a lot of time and energy into chasing it, and now, the end is almost in sight.
**Millie has been a challenge for me lately. I was tempted to write "a handful", but that is what you say in smalltalk to strangers, not friends. It's not the excess energy of a three year old that makes me laugh and shake my head at the end of the day. It's work. It's tears. It's frustration. It's things that neither of us understand. And it is so hard.
I run out of patience just about every day. And after another early bedtime, I tear up and ask myself why. Why am I not getting the hang of this mother thing yet, after nearly four years of practice? Why is everything I try failing? Why can't I figure this out? Why can't I do better?
And I'm beginning to realize that there will never be a leap across a finish line into the arms of cheering onlookers. This isn't a college degree with a notebook closed and a walk across the stage. It's not a recipe, adjusting spices by a half teaspoon until that first bite tastes perfect. Motherhood doesn't have an ending point. It's a day by day by sometimes grueling day. Some of those days will be heaven sent. Some of them will be a test of how many times I can take a breath and count to ten before I speak.
Maybe labor fooled me into thinking that the hard work would come, but it would be followed by an immediate reward. Instead, it's a million, tiny bits of happiness, interspersed by a million more prayers for help and guidance. I would give anything to earn the badge of "finally got this down", but I know it's unattainable. Because even when they are fifty, I won't be done being their mama. And thank goodness.
I like when I can be done, when something is complete, nice and tidy, and I can dust off my hands. But this is the middle, and it always will be.
Maybe motherhood will be like a good book, one that we go back to re-read certain paragraphs because they are magic. One that we begin to mourn when we've made it to the next chapter, to the final pages. One that collects wet tears on the last few sentences, because we want it to go on and on.
I've got a lifetime of practice ahead of me, but thankfully, I still have some great paragraphs to re-read.