Often, as I’m sitting with the children, I’ll start thinking about parenting in general. When this happens, I usually find myself pouring over the stories of the idolized families of my youth. The Ingalls, in particular.
No one ever yelled when things went wrong, there were plenty of bedside or kitchen table chats and we all learned something.
It was a beautiful life, but, not without heartache. It was as real as I wanted real life to be. It was flawed and difficult, but, love conquered all. Everyone wore their insides as clearly as the bonnets or coats dressing their bodies. The love for each other so obvious it was their most beautiful accessory.
This world of parenting is so starkly different in comparison. The access to absolutely everything we need and most of what we want. With so much to be thankful for, I find myself lusting after those days of less.
Carrie running down the hill and quiet evenings in dark rooms with the squeaking of the bunk bed stairs signaling some naughty adventure. I would not sew, but, my husband and I would bond over a table he made. Possible, but, not realistic. The world has changed. We have adapted.
I know, intellectually, it is not living like the Ingalls that makes one an Ingalls. It is living a genuinely giving and loving life. Family first. Family forever.
I love my children. There is no doubt. Like an internal bleed; you can not find the source, this love is everywhere. But, I am constantly comparing my reality to the pie baking, cart and horse mother lodged in my subconscious. Parenting does not look the way I imagined. It sometimes feels more routine than full of grace and spectacular teaching moments. There are hazy days and days when I wonder if I’ve been connecting at all as we wander through moments that feels like yesterday and every day.
How can something that looks so different still be authentic? Still be good enough? Can I be a both a great writer and a great mother? When they say, “Mommy, you’re the best mommy ever?”, will I ever believe them?
I have to remind myself that I am their Ma Ingalls even with my typing fingers and my flaws and I may not make them clothes, but, I write their stories. We are all part of each other and we need each other desperately even though I can not always mend hemlines and hearts over only the light of the hearth.
And, it is indeed a beautiful life, but, not without heartache. It is flawed and difficult, but, I still think love conquers all.
This reality is just as real as my beloved Little House on the Prairie, though it looks and feels different to the touch; this family is perfect in its own way in this home where family is forever and kitchen table chats bring laughter, spilled milk and so-and-so dipped in my ketchup and yes, even sometimes, those big moments when we all learn something.