From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Obstacles and Opportunities

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.

Mark Twain

Dear Ellen,

Last night, you asked if it was hard to be a mom. At that particular time, I was rushing to get dinner on the table, one ear tuned in to you, the other tuned in to the argument that was brewing between your brothers in the basement.

I sighed and hurriedly answered, “Yes, sometimes it is, but it’s all worth it. Now go find something to do.”

My answer was rushed and a bit flippant, but you were satisfied.

“Good,” you said, “‘cause I want to be a mom when I grow up.” Then, with a big smile, you skipped off to join the noise in the basement.

After you went to bed, I thought a bit more about your question and my answer. And yes, being a mom is hard work. In fact, sometimes it’s downright difficult.

I have only a few short years (although sometimes the days seem like eternity) to teach you that you should cross the street at the corner and wear a helmet when you ride your bicycle. That it’s right to say “thank you,” but wrong to talk to strangers. That it’s right to answer the phone, but wrong to say, “My mom’s not home.”

Being a mom means being a protector, organizer, juggler, chief cook and bottle washer. Some days, the list is never-ending, the responsibility enormous. But every day, I make a choice about how I view my job: a day laden with obstacles to be overcome or one that is brimming with opportunities to be seized.

It’s easy to see the obstacles.

White woodwork pocked with black fingerprints. Stains on the carpet. Cobwebs in the corners. Dust bunnies under the beds. Toys on the stairs. Smelly trash. Runny noses. Ratty hair. Holey socks. Wasted food.

When the obstacles are overwhelming, my days are disjointed and tear-stained. These are the days I wear old clothes because, if the baby isn’t spitting up on them, the toddler is spilling paint on them. The days when, just as I fall exhausted into bed, a voice calls out from down the hall, “Mom, I wet the bed.”

But when I look for the opportunities, I find that I am surrounded.

A warm burp and soft head burrowing into my shoulder. A tent constructed over the dining-room table. An announcement that the art gallery is open and paintings by an accomplished four-year-old can be purchased for a mere five cents. A secret discussion in the basement on the best tactic to use when spying on Mom. A middle-ofthe-night poke in the arm with an innocent, “Can I sleep with you?”

I can laugh at your chocolate-moustached faces because I know you like brownies best when they’re warm from the oven. I can smile at the soaking wet mittens because I know you’re proud of the snow fort you built in the backyard. My days are filled with pep talks of encouragement: Yes, I can get up in the middle of the night, one more time, to nurse the baby—he smells so good. Yes, I can read The Cat in the Hat one more time—she still fits on my lap. Yes, I can listen to one more argument and name-calling session without losing my cool—I know someday they’ll be best buddies.

Last night, when dinner was over, the three of you ran off with extravagant plans to build a Lego castle that promised to be the biggest one yet. The argument so important before dinner was forgotten. Later, you scrunched newspapers and carried firewood into the house.

“We need lots of wood,” you informed me, “because we’re going to have a big, big fire.” Then you plopped down on the couch and announced, “Listen to me read Green Eggs and Ham.”

I heard firewood crackling in the background. I saw swirls of dust through the flames. And I knew that the opportunities of being a mom far outweigh the obstacles.

Is it hard to be a mom? Sometimes.

Is it worth it? Always.

Love, Mom

Karna Converse

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