I was 29 and tired. Our four children were small, night feedings were a relentless reality, and I’d grown accustomed to wearing that distinct smear of moisture that invariably finds its way to a mother’s shoulder. This explains the unexpected sensation that hit me as we drove down Prune Hill one afternoon. Our mini-van, filled with car seats, Trader Joe’s stickers, and the essence of Burgerville, passed a home draped with pink banners bearing joyful tidings: “It’s a girl!” My gut reaction? “Those people must be so tired right now!”
Although not spoken aloud, my reaction startled me. Since when did a precious new life elicit such feelings? I quickly told myself to snap out of it. And, indeed, once I had a few good nights’ sleep, I did snap out of it and again found my way to rejoice in the life that daily bubbled around me in the form of four little humans. I was reminded of James M. Barrie’s words in “Peter Pan,” “When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
This was how I truly wanted to view my children. Long nights, yes, but love and laughter, too. Fretting and fussing, yes, but fairy frolics, too. Sniffling and scraping, yes, but singing and skipping, too. And I learned, as a mother inevitably learns, that it is both the joys and the sorrows that more fully shape the incomparable experience of motherhood.