No one warned me about the wet footprints that would lead to the toilet. No one warned me about the slurping noises I would hear as I rounded the corner, facing the wide, blue eyes of my 18-month-old holding a dripping measuring cup...over the toilet. Her blonde curls so perfect, her innocent expression on point, her entire body soaking wet.
The dirty, messy, toilet-water-covered days. There is no way to describe the horror of this, so how could I be warned ahead of time?
No one warned me of the sassy 3-year-old phase and conversations like the one I just had.
Me: "My throat really hurts. I think I'm getting a cold."
Him: "Well, maybe if you didn't scream at me, your throat wouldn't hurt!"
Me: "WHAT? When did I scream at you?"
Him: "You know, that one time when I was on the tractor and I wasn't supposed to be, you screamed at me to get off."
No one warned me of the deep wells of expression in his dark green eyes that stir and cloud with hurt as he faces situations in life he didn't see coming. Unfairness. Hurt that is so vivid and so real, it could reach out and choke me.
No one warned me about trying to reach the smart, independent, stubborn 6-year-old. Trying to understand him, love him, and be there for him in the way that he needs it. Not the way I imagine he should need it. The way he he actually needs it. And knowing with absolute certainty that when he is acting out the most, that is when he needs my love to come around him and hold him up...the most.
No one warned me of the day I would observe a conversation between Addison and a classmate and want to come home and cry.
Addison excitedly walked up to the popular girl and babbled, and the popular girl had no idea what Addison was saying. And while she wasn't unkind, she looked questionably at me for a translation (I didn't understand either so we had her repeat it), and that flashing moment of difference screamed at me. Not for what it was. For what it wasn't. The worry that this difference gap is growing wider and wider by the second and there's nothing I can do to stop it.
No one warned me that dips in the toilet are not the worst thing about parenting. The worst thing about parenting are the feelings. The open, exposed, raw "feeling" nerve that takes a simple conversation or change in expression and stabs it all the way to my heart.
No one warned me about the hugs. About the small arms wrapping around and holding on tight to their lifeline. The warmth of their bodies melting into mine. And the siblings running and jumping to join the hug because heaven forbid they be left out. No one warned me that my lap would be full of wiggling, hugging children that smell like soap and fabric softener and who ask me to then smell their teeth to make sure they brushed just right.
Speaking of teeth, no one warned me that motherhood would basically chew me up and spit me out on a daily basis. The unyielding inability to measure up. To hold them up. To succeed in the little and big.
And yet...those hugs. Those feelings. They go both ways. The expansive, love-fest that is my every day is sobering and overwhelming all in one.
The chances for grace. The pouring out of myself. The moments that hold nothing but frustrations and yet I can see opportunity there. Opportunity to love. To show them how to handle frustrations. To trust. To love some more.
I don't have to measure up. This isn't about me. This isn't about my ability or inability. This is about leaning into God's strength and learning from his patience. I don't have to control all of the things, I just have to do my best right now. And my best is magnified a thousandfold by God's grace.
Motherhood is the greatest thing I've ever done.
Even as I stare into Addison's almond-shaped eyes and wonder. What does tomorrow hold? The next 10 years? 20?