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Jan 22, 2008

Before I became a parent

I've spent many solitary hours packing, cleaning, and thinking during the last several days. I have tended to wax nostalgic, which has often left me amazed at how much my life has changed in the last six years. In some ways, life is very much the same as it was six years ago: I had a new baby and I was moving to a new state. Back then life was simpler, though, because that baby was my only one and the move was something we'd been anticipating for a long time. Back then, I was one of those people who looked at women towing a pile of unruly children through the store/campus/church and rolled my eyes in disgust at her obvious incompetence. My, how the years have changed my perspective. Today I got an eye roll from a Fred Meyer cashier. Believe me, it was well deserved.

As I sat in Dairy Queen tonight with my family, I chuckled at how the evening had been a series of "I'll never do that" activities. Back when I was childless or even when I only had one very mellow baby in diapers, I knew I'd never be the kind of mom who bribed her children with ice cream. I knew I'd never let the television become a babysitter. I'd never order pizza as a cop-out for dinner preparation. And I'd never let my kids leave the house with scraggly clothes and/or hair. Did I do one of those things tonight? Nope. I did them ALL. Maybe that makes me a bad mom/wife/homemaker, but I don't really care.

Back in the days of sleeping in, doing whatever I wanted on the weekends, and having a beautifully flat and wrinkle-free stomach, I was naive about more than the nuances of raising rowdy boys. I didn't understand the flip side, either. I never knew how a gummy grin could melt my heart, or how the words, "You're a professional mom" would make me feel like I'd won a gold medal. I never knew the joy that would come when my three-year-old asked me to tell him scripture stories or when he sang, "I Hope They Call Me on a Mission" at the top of his lungs on the way home from church. I know that years from now I'll definitely remember the rough grocery runs with three kids in tow, but I hope I also remember the sweet and happy moments, too. People often tell me to enjoy these early years with my kids -- that they are quickly gone, never to return. I find myself rolling my eyes at these comments because on most days I can't imagine parenting getting much harder than it is right now. At the same time, though, I know that those seasoned moms are probably right. In six more years I'll be older and wiser and dealing with issues of far greater importance than out-of-control roughhousing or wearing holey jeans to kindergarten. When I look back at this day will I smile because I miss this stage or because I'm so glad I don't have to go back? Probably a mixture of both.
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