Carseats, Cussing, and Crying - Holding the Brutal and Beautiful of Each Parenting Season


I’m going to pull back the curtain a little today.

My frustration reached it’s peak this morning. As it turns out, the peak was actually a volcano, waiting to erupt with a lava of red hot tears.

It all started when I spent 25 minutes trying to wrangle my daughter’s carseat back together. I choose the word, wrangle, with intention because despite being an inanimate object, that carseat possesses wild capabilities, demanding a full-on workout to coerce it into place. The 25 minute workout made even more stressful by my sweet daughter hovering over me crying, wanting to to be held the entire time. 

I wanted to scream. I may have cussed. More than once. “I can’t wait until she’s old enough to be out of this stupid carseat,” I muttered. 

Did I mention the reason it had to be taken apart? Oh, that’s because my daughter vomited all over it last week on the way to music class.

I finally managed to reassemble the beast of safety correctly and re-installed it in the car, using my full body weight to click it into place. In theory this carseat is supposed to be easier to install than those in the days of old. Let me tell you something, theories are useless to real life moms. I digress. Now running 15 minutes behind, I hoisted my daughter into that beast, buckled her up, and drove her to school.

My exciting plans for my precious few kid-free hours? Hit up the car wash. Last week when I removed the carseat post-pukies to clean it out, I about fell over when I encountered what appeared to be an entire pantry’s worth of snacks smashed all over the backseat. So, I opted to spend my coveted kid-free time vacuuming up crushed goldfish. I thought to myself, ugh, I long for the day when my backseat is clean again.

And just as I vacuumed up the last of the snack crumbs, I discovered the catalyst to my ultimate eruption - gum. On the seat. In multiple places. 

I lost it. The white flag raised high. The tears, they spilled all the way to the goldfish-dotted ground.

Yet, we both know the tears weren’t really about the gum. Or the goldfish. Or the carseat. 

They were about feeling like I can’t do it all. They were about my desire, right or wrong, for just one thing to feel easy. They were about feeling like parts of my world are spinning out of control. They were about my inability to stay on top of everything. They were about doing the hardest job I’ve ever done, a job with little to no acknowledgment or feedback. They were about the stressors of everyday life with kids leaving me feeling like anything but my best self. 

As my tears pooled on the ground, something in me shifted. And my anger gave way to a quiet grief.

It’s as though the acknowledgment of all the brutal parts opened the door for the recognition of the beautiful ones.

And it hit me…

When the goldfish are gone from the backseat, I'll be feeling the absence of my boys, no longer riding around in the car with me recounting their daily highs and lows.

When my daughter has outgrown the Beast of Safety, so too will she have outgrown my arms, and the days of rocking her to sleep with her warm body pressed against mine will be something of the past.

When my floors are devoid of books and toys scattered everywhere, it’ll mean my kids no longer come home from school, settle in, and read me stories about nature’s fiercest predators or the Guinness world record holder for Most Backflips Performed While Swallowing a Sword in One Minute. I kid you not.

When I no longer find bandaid wrappers in the toilet or on the floor right beside the trash can, it will mean my boys are beyond the age when they run straight into my arms at the first sign of an ouchy.

When the days of playing referee to the constant fighting are in my past, so too will be the privilege of bearing daily witness to the love and friendship they share.

When my fridge doors are free from all the sticky finger prints, it’ll mean those fingers have grown big enough to grab their own food as they dash out the door, too busy to sit down and share a meal with me. 

When my daughter no longer stands, arms outstretched, crying out for me, it’ll mean she’s forged her independence and no longer finds her sense of security within the confines of my embrace.

When my days of finding broken crayons in every corner are over, so too will be the days when I receive sweet handwritten notes reading, “I luv you mom. You ar the best mom in the hol wolrd.”

Each and every season of parenting holds both the hard and the rewarding. I don’t want to wish away the brutal parts of any stage, because when they pass, which we know they indeed will, they will take with them the beautiful parts too. 

So, we take the good with the bad. We let it out and we let people in. We acknowledge all of it, the brutal and the beautiful. We feel it and share it. We cuss or pray our way through it. Or in my case, both. We press in and we let go. We delight and we cry. We sing and we yell. We give it our best and we ask for forgiveness. We love deeply and we hold loosely. 

And all together it creates the rich context for this play called life.