Not long ago, I snuck out to walk the dog just as the kids were getting ready to go to bed and happened to be fortunate enough to catch the rising of a full harvest moon.
It was breath taking- brilliant orange, larger than life and rising slowly up out of the clouds and over the lake. The driver of a car passing car slowed, then pulled over to snap a picture on his tablet. Three boys who about ten years old were walking along, joking, laughing, then quieted and simply stopped to stare. I stood watching for a few moments and then rushed home in excitement to bring our two oldest children to see it.
It was just as I had imagined it would be. The kids, bundled in their pajamas and snow boots, ran across the deserted sand to the edge of the water. The moon was now a brilliant white, rising high above the lake and shimmering on the water. The night was crisp, quiet, as I knelt down behind them and whispered, “Have you ever seen a moon so big or beautiful in your entire life?” Our breaths hung in the air.
I knew that this would be one of the moments we would cherish- the three of us in the dark of night, taking in nature’s purist beauty.
And it was… for about thirty seconds. Then the wind suddenly changed direction, a nearby flag clanged eerily against its flag pole and both kids ran for the van screaming – one certain of an impending shark attack and the other suddenly terrified of the moon itself. We drove home and my son stomped back into the house yelling, “That was not a good idea, Mama!” followed close behind by his little sister crying, “I scared, Papa! I scared ‘a the moon!” My husband looked at me questioningly as he picked her up to comfort her and I shrugged, snorting back a giggle, having no idea of how to explain to him just how quickly the moment had gone bad.
As I thought about it later, it occurred to me that the hardest adjustment to parenthood is bridging the gap between the illusions we have of ourselves and the reality of raising another human being.
Somewhere in the back of my mind is still the vision of how I was certain life would be when we first found out we were pregnant, and I would very much like my children to remember me as a fun spontaneous mother who taught them to never take a moment for granted. However, it is quite possible that they will instead remember me as the mother who was always yelling things like, “Stop sticking cheerios to the dog’s back!” I’ve found the best way to bridge this gap is with laughter, although occasionally alcohol is necessary. And as we enter the holiday season and navigate our way from the joy and magic of Christmas to the inevitable sugar crash induced meltdowns, I hope that our home will be filled with both.