Motherhood is not a roller coaster

Here’s a little essay I wrote about Mother’s Day. It appears online, along with many others, at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms — I hope you can take a few moments today to enjoy the ride!

People say motherhood is like riding a roller coaster, but I  think of it as visiting the whole amusement park.

It’s true that we moms experience our share of heart-pounding thrills, those  moments when exhilaration and panic meet. They include a child’s many “firsts”:  His first steps. The first time she performs a solo onstage. The day you know they will leave you to go off to college or to live their own lives.

Raising kids makes us moms want to scream, too – but not in the hands-waving,  “I’m having fun” way! (More like the Edvard Munch way!) From the time my kids  were infants I’ve grit my teeth through stages I thought would never end, only  to be surprised when a “good” stage of childhood ended far too soon…usually  just as I had it figured out. I’m lucky, though. My frustrations have been over  things like tantrums and missed homework assignments; maybe a few outbursts over  my lack of time and sleep. Many moms deal with far worse.

People like to compare motherhood to riding a roller coaster, but a roller  coaster can’t convey the bumper-car silliness of watching your son goof around  in the backyard with his buddies. Or the lazy-river-calm of rocking your baby in  the middle of night. Or feeling like you’ve won the biggest prize in the world  when you see your teenager show extra kindness toward a classmate who’s a little  different or, unexpectedly, toward you.

I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned as a mom and yet how little I know  sometimes. Motherhood has its highs and lows, but it isn’t a closed, predictable  loop. With every sight, every sound, every ride, every day, I discover something  new about my children and myself.

[Now, doesn’t that make you want to visit Kennywood or your favorite park?!]


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