“You’ve got four kids” she said… “you must know how to handle all this…”
She waved her hands vaguely in the air, indicating the crying child clinging to her leg, the bags under her eyes, and the squished banana down her shirt, but somehow meaning so much more. A more that I know very well.
I nearly laughed at her, this mother experiencing the toddlers years for the first time.
She wasn’t serious right? She didn’t really think I knew how to handle everything?
But she looked almost desperate, her eyes pleading for me to share some pearl of wisdom, some amazing answer that would make everything easier.
Surely there must be a secret that parents of multiple kids all know but never share. I mean why else would they have more than one child unless they had this gig all figured out?
I smiled tiredly, feeling both her exhaustion and mine.
“No one really knows how to handle all this parenting stuff” I said… “we are all just making it up as we go along.”
She looked a little stunned, perhaps a little deflated?
After all, that answer wasn’t going to help her get her child to eat something other than banana, or get him to sleep through the night, or get her out of the house on time, with a clean shirt on.
“You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll do things you wish you hadn’t, and you’ll wonder why on earth you didn’t figure out that simple thing much, much, sooner… but that’s ok.”
“You learn from the mistakes, and they love you no matter what, and you work it out as you go along.”
I’m not sure if her relieved smile was because of my words, or because I picked up her little boy and took him to play on the slide for a while, but… we’ll work it out as we go along.