Monday, February 8, 2010

When Our Kids Grow Up

Ten years ago I read Katrina Kenison's Mitten Strings for God-Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, and was thrilled by the thoughts of a Mom who reminded me so much of myself. In time, I began to realize that she probably reminded almost every other mother of themselves as well. And somehow it was easier to accept advice from one of our own. By sharing her personal search for some elusive balance during the early years, she encouraged me- and many others- to stay the course, even when our seesaws were wildly out of control.

Motherhood is a uniquely universal experience. What mama cannot empathize with tales of sleep-deprivation, toddler tantrums, sibling wars, finicky eaters, birthday burnout, bathroom talk, middle school misery, and teenage angst? How I envy today's Mommy Bloggers for the opportunity to survive those early trials by sharing them!

But Katrina's bird's eye view of childhood and motherhood transcends the anecdotal.
Although I have only read the excerpts and watched this poignant video of her reading, I am struck by Katrina's uncanny ability to once again sum up the flood of feelings that are part and parcel of motherhood. The Gift of an Ordinary Day promises to strike chords deep within that will continue resonating long after the book is put down.

I remind myself when I wearily tuck my youngest into bed, that this is as fleeting as the light of the firefly he caught at dusk. His sisters and brothers have all grown up and are past tucking in. Looking down at his small, sweet face, I reel with the understanding that I am still the most important person in his world. I am grateful for the knowledge that he will grow up just like his siblings did, because knowing that means I will savor these moments in ways I didn't know I should have back then.

Motherhood is an experience like no other. There have been moments when I could barely breathe I was so filled with anxiety over a child. There have been others when I wondered if one could actually burst with pride. A few years ago, I came up with a strategy for those days when the word 'failure' seemed like a generous way to describe my mothering. I'd think about every single child I had ever met, and imagined discovering another who I'd trade mine for. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find a single one.

I reflect on the times when my teens are sullen, rude, entitled, untrustworthy, unappreciative, and worst of all, unknowable. Those years are excruciating. How to believe that they will, this late in the game, actually emerge whole and whole-hearted? But they do. Really. And the feeling is like having your best childhood friend move in next door. It is joyful, and this time it is not fleeting.

Mothers who read Katrina's book will share knowing nods and will treasure her reflections. They will remind them, like me, that even though mothering comes to an end, motherhood goes on forever and it is a gift just like an ordinary day.

1 comment:

  1. WOW!!! I love your words and reflections Gretchen! You are a talented Mama Writer yourself! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about these wonderful books and the author who wrote them. Maybe you should tackle a book next! Katrina Kenison's words are gifts to be treasured!