One of the parts of parenting that I didn’t anticipate was just how inconvenient it can be. In theory, I knew getting ready in the morning would take longer, scheduling would get more complicated, sleep would decrease and grocery budgets would increase.
In practice, the sheer number of inconveniences each day is a bit mind-boggling.
It is astoundingly inconvenient to look for the missing shoe every single morning, or to change a blow out diaper just as you were getting ready to finally walk out the door. To make sure lunches and extra sets of clothes and backpacks all made it into the car. To fill out countless forms. To schedule countless appointments. To make countless meals. To clean up countless toys. Homework. Ugh. Homework.
And, sleep….that lovely distant memory of something I desire so deeply and yet will elude me for the next decade. I have been woken up by hungry babies, scared toddlers, accidents, nightmares, fevers, kids crawling into bed, kids crawling out of bed, kids’ legs on my face or elbows in my back, worry for teenagers out with friends… Saying sleep deprivation is inconvenient is the understatement of parenthood.
And thank goodness for those friends who can commiserate. The ones who are also up feeding babies at two in the morning, liking posts on Instagram and texting profound truths when it seems no one else in the world is awake or could understand. The friends who would never make you feel bad for losing your patience when your child refused to put their shoes on and get in the car. The friends you put as emergency contacts. The friends you only see briefly at soccer games and car pools. The friends you love to be with but never actually get to see. The friends you plan to reach out to again when the kids get a little older.
A few months ago, I thought my appendix was rupturing. Before children, I would have simply called my husband at work so he could drive me to the hospital right away. After children, it required an hour’s work of organizing who could go where and what would they need before driving myself to the hospital while calling my husband at work to meet me there. Even emergencies feel inconvenient as a parent.
Then, alone, sitting in an uncomfortable hospital bed, I found out that one of my friends passed away. A friend with three boys like me. A friend who messaged at two in the morning because she saw that I had just liked something on her FaceBook page and we were both awake feeding babies. A friend who commiserated with me. A friend who celebrated with me.
I had thought we would have time for girls weekends when the kids were older. I thought we would have more time to share parenting struggles. I thought I would have more time to tease her about how much her husband still clearly adored her.
I thought there was more time.
My friend was one of those really beautiful people. You know, those ones who are so good looking that you think they couldn’t possibly be nice, too? But she was. She was one of the most joyful, kind and genuinely happy people I had ever met. She and her husband were still goofy-in-love and she was devoted to her children in all the best ways.
In life, my friend had moments of struggle. She questioned some of her decisions, she got frustrated with the children, she had disagreements with her husband. She knew the inconvenience. She was like all of us.
In death, I think one of her biggest regrets would be all the ordinary moments that she will miss. The after school hugs. Wrapping her baby in a towel after a bath. Comforting her toddler after a bad dream. Seeing her oldest have his first crush. Kissing her husband before work.
I think she would gladly choose to come back for even the most inconvenient of days.
Inconvenient moments still have possibility. Looking for the missing shoe could turn into a moment of adventure. The diaper change could suddenly turn silly and delightful. Lost backpacks might become an inside joke by the time your child heads off to college. The meals and forms and appointments could later be something that connects you to your child when they are overwhelmed with your grandchildren.
This is not to say that there is no room for impatience or frustration or being overwhelmed. But I feel my friend’s presence the most in those moments. It helps me feel impatient and somehow grateful. Frustrated and still connected. Overwhelmed and, yet, present.
I get to have all these inconvenient moments with my family.
They are temporary and they are the parts I will miss when my children are grown.
They are the parts that my family would miss if I am no longer here.
Life with children is so much more inconvenient than I ever imagined. And it is exponentially more precious, amazing, wonderful and healing than I imagined. It is the ordinary moments that really makes it all so extraordinary.
My friend’s life and death has had an incredible ripple effect… as would all of ours. I cherish the gift she left me because it helps me be with my children more often than I would have otherwise been. I am slowing down to experience more moments with my family. Inconvenient or not.