If somebody would've told me beforehand - I never would have believed them. The yo-yo is sometimes too intense to actually be, well, believable. I'd have thought they were being melodramatic or exaggerating. I'd have thought they didn't appreciate, you know, the miracle of parenthood and blah blah blah, etc. etc.
So, what the heck am I talking about? I'm talking about the ups & downs and highs & lows of parenting. I'm talking about how bloody quick that high can become a low, and vice versa. (It's entirely possible that I've blogged about this before. If so, clearly I'm still amazed by it).
(As a sidenote here: I will be the first to admit that my kids tend towards the, um, intense. They come by it honestly. Like their Mama, they do not believe in doing anything, or any mood, half-assed. Moderate just isn't our way. So I get that other folks may think I'm wingeing when I talk about my kids' moods or tantrums or reactions or activity levels and the like. But you'll just have to trust me when I say, my tots are an intense little lot.)
Anyhoo - back to the ups and down business. There are days when the mood pendulum is so great that I can cry happy, sad and frustrated tears all in one day (or one outing, for that matter!). Who would believe that before becoming a parent?
There is nothing that can prepare you for the rush of sheer bliss that comes from spontaneous hugs, declarations of affection, or impromptu kitchen dance parties with a coupla smalls? There is also nothing that can prepare you (and I mean nothing!) for the intensity of helplessness and anger when you are dealing with an intense hour long (and that's not even close to our household record either peeps) in which you get slapped, kicked and have to dodge miscellaneous projectiles, in which the raging tantrum-ee is so worked up, he gouges a huge welt in their own stomach, while you are attempting (and usually failing) to maintain a zen-like calm. But then, as quickly as it roared in, the tantrum stops. And you are overcome with an overwhelming need to comfort and shelter this child that seconds ago was as big as a hurricane, and now seems so vulnerable and tiny. Or how 'bout the extreme frustration from dealing with a toddler so steadfastly against the concept of sleep that she will poke her own eyeballs in an attempt to avoid getting those zzzz's. And unexpectedly, the toddler collapses in a heap of sleep. And you are overcome with relief, and an enormous flooding of gooey love for this gorgeous, sweetly sleeping babe in front of you.
The yo-yo is nuts. Sheer nuttery. Especially when you add to the yo-yo your own feelings of ineptitude, the nagging suspician that you could've, should've handled it (whatever it is) better, that you are really not cut out for this business. And top that with the moments that just go right, those fleeting moments when you get to think: 'Wow, we're doing an awesome job with these amazing kids." Yo. Yo.
There is this fantastic old movie about parenting, called (wait for it!): Parenthood. It's an 80's flick with Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen and if you haven't seen it, you are totally missing out. (Really. Rent it or Netflix it or something). Anyhow - there's this scene where a wise little grandma is trying to explain to her grandson (Martin) that parenthood is like a rollercoaster...
Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Gil: (not really paying attention) Oh?
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Gil: (totally sarcastic) What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.
Grandma is right of course. It's a roller coaster. One minute your heart is breaking and the next second it's swelling with all kinds of warm fuzzies. It's an awesome, wonderful, terrifying, angry-making, holy-crap-I'm-tired-and-scared-and-I-don't-know-if-I-can-do-this, exciting, sickening, exhilarating, roller coaster.
Or, you know, a yo-yo.
Either way, what a ride.