The children sat around the fire, faces glowing from the light of the flames, shouting out more and more absurd suggestions for the Corner Grocery Store song. When I switched to something slower, they put their hands on each other’s shoulders and swayed to the music. We sang the blessings for havdalah, using freshly plucked cedar leaves as the spices. The wind blew hard, and K tenderly helped E zip up her sweater and hugged E to her side.
It’s true, what someone once told me about parenting: the highs are higher, and the lows are lower.
Some days it feels like everything is on fire and we have to put it out using nothing but our wits and a seltzer bottle. We careen from one meltdown to another, coordinating the minutae of four young lives with all their appointments and therapies, all the while judging the soundness of our parenting decisions. Those are the days that make us reminisce about our brief stint as a child-free couple living downtown: “Wasn’t it great that if we wanted to go out for dinner we could, without coordinating child care? Remember just crossing the street and being at the movie theatre and the bistro?” The irony is that over half of that time, I was praying that we’d have children soon.
And then there are days like yesterday and today, when everyone’s singing and embracing, the children are helping each other, the sky is clear and the lake is beautiful. Yesterday we all swam together in the (slightly-warmer-than-last-week) lake, made challah, and enjoyed Shabbat dinner on the deck overlooking the water. Today was a bit more difficult for me—all those hikes have caught up with me in the form of a fibro flare, methinks—but the kids and Mr. December had a great time in the water while I slept for three hours. And then there was our havdalah and campfire tonight, and now I’m sitting by the fire with my laptop, listening to the waves and typing this post.
I won’t say the lows aren’t that bad: they really, truly are. But I’ll take them, partly there’s no return policy for kids, but mostly because I wouldn’t give up the highs for anything.