This evening as I was driving, alone, uninterrupted, allowed to listen to whatever I wanted on the radio, in the peace and quiet of my redneck van, I realized something. The quiet was getting to me. That’s right. I was missing the constant noise, the questions, the little voices from the backseat that usually fill the van with queries and opinions and long monologues about who knows what. I was lonely. And it was too quiet, in spite of Dr. Laura’s best attempts to fill the silence with her wise and all-knowing voice.
Humph. I have been noticing some of motherhood’s paradoxes lately. This was but one. Generally when I ride in the car with my kids, just as the talk-show host is about to drive home some crucial point one of my kids says “Hey Mommy! what’s five plus five? It’s ten right? I told Sammy it was ten but he said it was eight and blah blah blah blah . . .” Sometimes it really drives me crazy. Sometimes it is all I can do not to turn around and tell my children to BE QUIET because the guy on the radio is explaining the secret of life!
And yet . . . I am so proud of the fact that my kids are talkative, that they speak their minds and share their opinions and generally make sense when they do so. Not always, but usually. And if someone else ever complained about how much my kids talk I think I would be very, very ticked off.
Isn’t it funny how we’re like that? We recognize every fault in our children, they drive us crazy all the time, sometimes we wish they would just go away for awhile and come back when they’re not annoying anymore, and yet at the same time we think they are the most perfect and amazing and wonderful children in the universe.
I was listening to Dr. Laura in the van today and a lady called in and said “I’m so and so and I have two perfectly average-looking children.” It took me a minute and then I realized she was making fun of all the people who call in and say their kids are beautiful. And I got thinking about it, and I realized, I do think my kids are beautiful. In a boy way, I mean. But when I tried to convince my heart of the truth, that Ryan run likes a girl and Sam’s ears stick out a little too far, all I could see was these two perfect little boys that I love so much.
I think it’s amazing how much love can cover up the sins and imperfections of our children. And how much their love for me covers my imperfections. My children love me and smother me with affection all the time, even when I’ve been cranky or distant or impatient or just too busy to be a good mommy. They constantly remind me that they think I’m beautiful. I am not worthy of the way they view me. But they’re not worthy of the way I love them either. It’s just family love at its best.
Sure in my head I know my kids have personality flaws (and sometimes they drive me crazy) but my heart sees them softly, sweetly. It sees the babies they once were and wonders about the men they will become. My eyes see the banged up elbows and knees, the bad haircuts (courtesy of my extreme cheapness), the dirty faces, the ornery behaviors. My heart sees two little people who carry my hopes and dreams and love in their grubby little hands.
The other morning I needed a certain female article of clothing from my basement. I had already put my skirt and half-slip on but had no shirt. In a fit of inspiration, I pulled my slip up to under my shoulders and ran out of the bedroom, through the dining room and kitchen, and down the steps to grab my necessity. As I was running through the dining room where the boys were playing, slip pulled up over my chest and looking like a big idiot, Ryan said “ooh Mommy you are so pretty!”
That’s the way he sees me. And it’s the way I see him, even when he’s jumping around his bedroom wearing nothing but his underwear.
Yes, we get on each other’s nerves, and yes, there are days when I seriously consider muzzles for my children. (Case in point: Here’s what I know about current political issues: “Today Hillary Clinton said that MOMMY SAMMY TOOK THOMAS AND I NEED THOMAS BECAUSE SIR TOPHAM HATT SAID THOMAS HAS TO GO SHUNT FREIGHT TRAINS IN THE YARD!!! In response, Barak Obama’s campaign said “MOMMY! LOOK AT WHAT MY DREW! MY DREW THIS BIG BOAT AND THERE IS A FIRE ON THE BOAT AND MY MADE A MAN THAT IS PUTTING THE FIRE OUT WITH SPITTING!!!“)
In the end, though, the paradox of motherhood is that even though I know every one of my kids’ faults, I love them and think they’re perfect anyway.
At least until they’re teenagers.
At that point, all bets are off.