Last Friday, I spent time with three different newborns. Babies who belonged to my little sister and two good friends. The final stop on my Baby Crawl was Starbucks. My good friend and I sat at one of those small tables, sipping our caffeinated beverages of choice, while her darling girl slumbered in her stroller. We sat there, face-to-face, and talked. We talked about predictable things. Babies and motherhood. And family. We talked about how hard it can be, this parenthood business. How exhausting and complicated and heart-wrenching. We talked about how being a mom means parting with control and sleep and order.
And as we talked and talked, my mind danced as it tends to do. And it made a revealing poetic detour. And it occurred to me that it is up to us to keep things real, to be honest, to fight the tendency to sugarcoat bitter things. Because as much as we love our sugar and our Equal and the completely-and-utterly-non-carcinogenic Splenda, sometimes when we use too much of these things, it stops tasting like coffee, or tea, or whatever it is we are drinking. It stops tasting like what it actually is.
Is up to us to tell unsweetened stories.
Because not every baby sleeps through the night. And all babies cry. And teething sucks. And all moms cringe. And toddlers act up. And buttons are pushed. And sometimes fragile things like wineglasses and expectations are shattered. And sometimes, say, that glorious living room where you used to host civilized cocktail parties ends up covered in Cheerio powder and shredded lettuce. Because parenthood is not all coos and claps and winning smiles. It is always delicious, but not always sweet. Let's not pretend otherwise. Pretending does not make us better, or more loving, or more perfect, mothers.
Recently, my Cheerio Compatriots Lindsey and Mama each stepped up to the plate and told her own delectably unsweetened story of modern motherhood (Hi, Mixed Metaphor. Nice to see you again.) Click here and then here to read their words and to see what it really means to be a parent.