“You really have your hands full,” said yet another stranger with a look of sympathy.
Do you people say this to you?
I hear it quite often. I’ve grown to love it. At first I would look sheepishly in agreement at the person speaking to me, but now I respond with “better full than empty” and smile.
Life overflowing is my preference. Good and bad are just part of the deal.
Sometimes I am so completely and thoroughly overwhelmed with intense motherly love for my children that I can barely contain and express the overflow towards them.
I just want to grab them and squeeze them. And I do.
This happens for no reason at all. It just comes over me when I am watching one of them sleep, or when my littlest one comes running into the kitchen when she hears the fridge door open, or even a sweet smile from a messy faced girl who is trying to get out of taking a bath.
Sometimes I am so completely and thoroughly disgusted with them and their obnoxious behavior that I struggle to contain my anger and the poison that is welling up, trying to escape out of my mouth.
I just want to grab them and squeeze them. But I don’t.
This happens for a reason. Many reasons. Like when my oldest, who considers herself top dog around here, picks on the middle dog who screams and cries and then turns on the pup who comes innocently to see what the commotion is about. Unless you are the top dog, the view is decidedly bad. Poor pup in the back of the line, always looking up the bum of the dog ahead.
It’s just that I have this little picture in my head of a dog sledding team…
The driver got weary and foolish and lay down to rest for just a moment and awoke to find her self, no longer the driver, but the sled, tied to the team of laughing dogs and being pulled around on the ice, snow in her face, strands of hair frozen to the tip of her nose. Wrapped around her ankle, cutting off the circulation to her foot, is the strap to her diaper bag. The contents (everything she could possibly need in this situation) are flying out at every bump in the ice.
When the dogs have finished their trek across the tundra and are all laughed out, they free her. After all, who else is going to feed them? Unable to hold a grudge against her adorably precious little mischief makers, she gives them some dinner (but no dessert), washes and brushes them and hugs them tight before tucking them in for the night.
That’s just my little picture.
For me, parenting these days has very little middle ground. Which is very trying on my typically level, reasonable and calm disposition.
I ride daily on the Scream and Laugh roller-coaster. Emotions run high and low, there is fighting and making up. Bruises are acquired and hugs are given. There is never a dull moment, or even a pause, hesitation or chance for a deep breath. The coaster goes up, the excitement builds and it goes down with screaming and clutching and crying. We’re loving then angry, yelling then laughing and it doesn’t seem to stop at any regular interval.
Sure, there’s an emergency brake, but I can’t reach it. That job belongs to God and thankfully, every so often He hits the brake for me.
I then stumble off to the nearest trash can, promptly vomit my lunch, clean the sweat from my brow with a baby wipe, pick some gum off the bottom of my shoe, smooth my hair and regain my balance.
My brief God-given rest enables me to smile again and see the craziness for what it is. And like a true thrill seeking adrenaline junkie, I get back in the seat with a grin and ride until the rhythm of the ups, down and all arounds lull my children into a deeply needed sleep.
My heart has had to get bigger. And it has to continue to expand to provide enough love and compassion to cover all the messy spills from the overflow of life.
I have accepted that roller-coasters make me sick. I am choosing to ride anyway.
This article was originally published in 2008.