On Wednesday, the cashier asked the ages of my boys, now 17 and 14. She has two sons, too, ages 39 and 34. "Tell me it gets easier," I asked. I didn't think she heard me as she attended to another customer. As I began to walk away, she turned towards me and said, "It gets different."
I spent my kids' infant and toddler years wishing for different. Less crying, fewer disagreements (between the boys and between my husband and me), more sleep, more of the quiet joy I felt watching my boys as they slept.
I missed so much, wishing for different.
Parenting is hard now. Again. In a different way than when the boys were little. I can't mom-handle my way to what I want. I have so little control of the outcome when it comes to my kids.
And I spend so much time wishing for different. Hoping for easier. Crossing my fingers that there won't be an argument this evening, that I won't get pushback this time, that it won't be another complicated negotiation.
Those quiet moments of joy are even more elusive.
I've realized they're elusive because I've relied on my outside circumstances to infuse my inner feelings with joy. And my outside circumstances can't be controlled. They never could but, bless my heart, I carried the illusion that I wielded more power as Supermom than I actually did.
I'm working on finding joy from the inside out these days. It's not easy to break the old habits of telling myself "I'm happy because everyone is getting along," "We had a good day because there wasn't an outburst." I've restarted meditating, a long, slow journey of inner change. I'm finding brief moments to practice Tai Chi. I'm working on acceptance of what is, the good and the bad, hard and easy, and everything else in between.
"Peace doesn't require two people; it requires only one," writes Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is. "It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there."
Photo by Hu Chen on Unsplash