When you decide to have children, you know it will require sacrifice. Midnight feedings, dirty diapers in inconvenient places, temper tantrums, sibling fights, bedtime battles, friendship drama, boo-boos, bullying, and never going to the bathroom alone. Again. Ever. You've heard (and pray it's true) that your child's smile will melt your heart. That her happiness will genuinely be yours. That the first time he catches a foul ball, you'll be as proud as if he won the World Series. Watching them sleep will make you weep. Sending them to summer camp for the first time will break your heart with ache.
It sounds cliche, but anyone who's had children will agree that you have no idea what you're truly getting into. The love and the aggravation. The pride and the embarrassment. Stretching the limits of your joy and the limits of your patience. The extremes of who you were, are, and will become. It isn't only the greatest pleasure, it is also the greatest test of character. Having children forced me to embrace all that is good and bad about myself.
In all honesty, the hardest challenge for me has been the loss of self. In many ways, I've developed dimensions that never existed until I became a mom. I see the world in a different way. News stories, politics, the economy, the environment all have more depth because I view them beyond my own life. I now see my children. And their children. And their children. It creates a responsibility that before ended with me.
But in taking on this burden, I've lost parts of me. Some good. Some bad. To qualify, the sacrifice is worth all that I've gained. Yet, in full disclosure, I miss being able to embrace the muse. In a prior post, I described how ideas and words flutter around like butterflies. If you don't capture them when they're in front of you, they're gone. Tonight, I sat to work on my fourth book. A book that I need to finish because it is the story of my friend's son and her family's life with his tuberous sclerosis. But each time I tried to write, someone needed something from mommy. Yes, I'd love to be one of those writers who can wait until it's quiet and write into the wee hours, but when you know your ADHD son will be up at the crack of dawn, it doesn't happen. Sleep trumps pursuing waking dreams. I can carve 15 minutes to write a blog post, but not two hours to write another chapter.
Of course I would do it all again. Give up my legal career. Give up research and writing full time. Give up being able to sit down when my muse decides to show her face and capture the thoughts. Because my children are everything to me and worth the sacrifice. But I do miss her.