Once upon a time, I was a hard-driving reporter. I worked 15-hour days. Lived away from home for weeks, sometimes months at a time. My life was all about getting somewhere, getting the story and getting it to my editor on time.
Last week, I went on a search for my passport. I found it in the bottom of a sticky briefcase, in the back of a dusty closet. It was expired. It had never been stamped. This was telling. I am no longer a hard-driving reporter.
What I am is a stay-at-home mom. This fact still shocks me. I always thought I’d have kids. I just thought I’d have a job, too. And I did for a while. Till I couldn’t ask my son to suffer any more. He was just a baby. He just wanted his mommy.
Now I have three children: A six-year-old, a four-year-old and a six-month-old. I do not travel much. My stories are of the bedtime variety. But I have not stagnated since deciding to stay home. I have only grown wiser. My kids are more enlightening than any editor I’ve ever had.
They teach stuff that matters. Like kindness, mindfulness, awe and poetry. Charlie can get so excited simply holding a wiggly chick or spying the first of the season’s purple pea flowers. Because of him, I know that life is made of tiny miracles.
Fiona reminds me to be patient and attentive. “Mom, I want to show you something,” she says, taking my big bony hand in her small grubby one. I’m in a hurry but she is persistent. She leads me to her room, where she has made her bed. “A surprise for you,” she beams.
From baby Niav, I learn that smiles are infectious.
In short, my children are molding me into the person I have always wanted to be. Not driven. But forgiving. Grateful.
My fear is that I will forget these lessons once the kids grow up and away. Will I again think more about the deadline than the story?
Last year, a middle-schooler knocked at the door and asked me if I could move the car parked in front of my house. Her school bus could not get by. I was annoyed at the interruption and I was curt: “Not my car. Sorry.”
Charlie came downstairs. “Who was that,” he asked and I explained. He looked out the window at the bus, still stuck, the girl knocking on other doors now. He turned to me, face full of worry and confusion. “But, Mom, you have to help them.”
My annoyance drained away. Of course I did. I ran out to the bus. “You have room,” I told the driver, then I directed her through the narrow street. She waved as she passed by.
So what do I believe? I believe that my kids have made me a better person. And that the whole world benefits from my time in their tutelage.
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