Yesterday, I went to the zoo. I pushed a stroller with an almost three and a half year old and an almost one year old. And, alternately, a two year old who decided he didn't want to ride in his mommy's stroller and would much prefer Auntie's, because Auntie has the best snacks (aka something different than what his own mommy packed, because that is always infinitely superior no matter who you are or how awesome your own mommy's snacks are).
We marveled at the tigers and giraffes. We rode on the carousel. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while watching the elephants perform tricks.
It's a pattern we've repeated umpteen times. It's a pattern I absolutely adore.
The only thing that was different about yesterday was that it was the first day of school. And I was at the zoo.
Parenthood. It's a bittersweet trial of souls. It's moments of absolute triumph and perfection, mixed in with a lot of heartache and struggle. It's forever the hardest thing I will ever do, and it has altered my outlook for the rest of my life.
Because, truth? There was a great big part of me that longed to go back to school. My principal called to see if I could do a 6 week long term sub for another language arts teacher who is about to pop (by the way, six week maternity leave deserves a conversation of its own and a giant badge of shame on whoever masterminded that bunch of junk. Congratulations!... you've just made a person and encountered the biggest change you'll ever know in this life. You have six weeks to heal/adjust/enjoy, and then you must go back to work like everything's all normal again and behave exactly like you did before you had a tiny human to worry about. Really? That's the best we can do, and we call ourselves the greatest nation in the world??? Shame, shame, shame).
Six weeks? At the beginning of the school year? With all lessons planned and ready to go?! I can so totally do that!!
And then I looked at the faces of my tiny humans. And recieved a much needed sucker punch to the gut.
They're not hobbies. They're not toys. I can't pick them up when they're fun and cuddly and put them down again when they're a ton of work and make me sigh with exhaustion. I have the miraculous opportunity to raise my kids - an opportunity that we have worked for and sacrificed for, an opportunity that fewer and fewer women are able to embrace - and my first instinct is to give it up. Huh.
Raising up people isn't optional. Obviously, you do what you have to do. Not everyone has the luxury of staying home, and there is no judgement or shame there. But, after three years of working to get to this point, it was amazing to see how quickly my brain jumped back into "I can go to work" mode, instead of rejoicing in the fact that I'm already at work.
I adore the conversations I have with three-and-a-half year old Leah. She is inquisitive and hilarious and oh so loving. I loved having a baby, but watching her grow into a person with opinions and ideas... wow. It's so much better than even that amazing, snuggly baby. And Mr. Logan is ready to take his first big steps into a much bigger world, like any minute, and I'll get to be here to see it.
There will be tears, head-butting and struggles. There will be moments that I could lay down and sleep for a week, if only they would let me. There will be days they get out of line, and he screams at me for things I can't control. And by the grace of God, I will be the one to help them learn to handle their frustrations and take deep breaths when they feel out of control and make the right choices when the right choices are hard and send them to the corner to think about how to be a little more kind and loving.
To celebrate the tiny humans as they grow into those amazing people they are becoming.
To be present. To love being present. To be fearlessly, unabashedly present.
That's my job.