I met this lovely woman the other day.
She came to tune our piano.
We struck up a conversation about how long she's been engaged in her work; what I do for a living and the state of raising good kids in a time when the world is spinning faster than we can sometimes manage to hold on.
After she finished making our ivories shine and downed the remainder of her cup of tea, she remarked, "I get it. I understand why you were a mediator. I could sit here and talk all day and tell you my life's woes and probably feel better on the way out the door."
"Well, that's very kind of you to say," I smiled, "but I hardly think my three children would concur. They're certain that I invented marathon yelling and Olympic nagging."
She laughed and said, "I never had kids of my own, just lots and lots of music students. I could tell the ones who had parents really in their lives and those that were just shuffled from one place to the next. Keep up with it. Pretty soon, they'll be gone. Good luck with the lessons."
She left and I went to the kettle, poured hot water into a mug and watched as the tears stained my cheeks.
Parenting is bliss and shit all in the same breath. It's the feeling that you just want to run away to a place where no one needs you while simultaneously, putting them on a shelf so that you can treasure the moments when all the stars align and pick them back up after you're rejuvenated and ready to get back into the game.
It's the moment when your four-year old proudly holds up her Hello Kitty jack-o-lantern beaming with joy and seconds later screams at you because you can't find her fairy wand. And you "ALWAYS lose her stuff." Yep, fuck me.
It's the time when your eight-year old completes her first dialogue journal entry all on her own and after reciting the sweet words blasts, "You're making lasagne? Why? What am I going to eat for dinner?" Yep, fuck me twice.
And then, your 10-year old comes back from a Boyscouts outing to the City Council and shares how his question was selected and how cool it was to meet an elected official and then blurts out, "Why does Kate get to have a friend over?" And fuck me thrice.
But, but, but....as she so aptly said, one day, they will leave...all three of them...so help me God, no 30-year old grown child will be living in the basement.
And so, as Claire held her fairy wand shoveling homemade lasagne into her mouth while Kate scooped grapenuts into a vegetarian pie hole and Sam proudly called his friend to secure a play date, I thought...somehow, someway, all is well...and it's okay to cry when they leave and to cry when they stay wishing they would leave or that I could leave.
This is the business of being a parent.