Thursday, September 13, 2012

The One

There is, when you have three kids, always the one.

There is the one that, right now, you don't worry about. There is the one who makes you smile. There is the one who who has your eyes, your husband's nose, the jawline of a relative whose name you cannot place.

And there is the one that makes you cry; big, open-mouthed, snotty-nosed, wailing tears of despair and recognition for the lesson you cannot give, that you once had to learn—the one that almost cost you your own life.

There is the one for whom your words fall like fat raindrops against glass, plopping and then landing on the ground, dissolving into nothing, like a hard-won gift you never even gave.

There is the one who charges through life with a merry look and a smile like a wrecking ball, spreading frustration like an angry wake; who looks at the chaos wrought by the force of defiance and careless laziness and innocently inquires, "What?" 

My heart, it seems, will break upon the cliffs of that one's free agency, upon that inborn endowment of individuality that sets a child of my own body spinning away from me on the breeze of time. My arms remember when that one was small enough to hold and press tight against danger, young enough to listen to my words, large-eyed and trusting, as I told what to do about living in the world. My arms grasp air now. Too often, they reach and fill with emptiness. Too much, they fill with the ache of bitter rage.

Mostly, I am inspired. Mostly, I am amused. But sometimes I am dumbfounded and grief-struck by this business of motherhood. Raising children is easy, but raising is hard. Sometimes, it is hard.


  1. Oh I love this post. I thought you were going to write about how with three kids, there's always the HARD one. Then you reminded me that it's all hard. And glorious. And fun.

    1. You're so right. They have ALL been that one at one time or another. Luckily, they take turns. What amazes me is how usually parenting feels so natural to me. Not easy, really (that's a lie I told up there) but natural. But, occasionally, I just get stymied by the development of someone's individuality along the line, as I see it mirroring my own.

  2. "Raising children is easy, but raising is hard." Huh ... I'd never heard of it that way ... I'll tuck that in for future years ... (:

    1. I guess I mean that when I am thinking of them as children, it is often easy to see what to do. There are a lot of books. There are carrots and there are sticks. There seems to be some sense of protocol to it. But when I am watching them from any distance, seeing them from who they are becoming and trying to treat them as another human being, one with different developmental needs than me, but a full person all the same, then the answers are harder to come by. It's worth saying, though, that I think it's worth doing it this way anyway. :)

  3. I always say that if you think being a parent is easy, you aren't doing the job right. This post is so true. I never thought I would actually cry over the choices my kids would make but I have. It is nice to be reminded that I am not alone in this journey. You summed it up beautifully. :) Jenny

  4. So lovely, so true. My sister, who is ahead of me in child-rearing by a few years, has often said that it only gets harder as they become adults. I would get a bit defensive and angry at that tidbit of information. Now, I have adults, and, dang if she wasn't right.
    Children are heartbreaking and heartfilling at the same time.

  5. Oh Tara. I can relate to so much of this, even if it's just through my very distinct fears for when my small people get older. This is just beautifully wrought and I fear, so true.

    These small people, they consume us whole. Hugs to you.


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