24 March 2011

The Best Part

This past week, celebrating the milestone 1,000th post on her "Motherlode" blog, the New York Times' Lisa Belkin published a guest blog entry by Anna Quindlen.  The entry was entitled "The Best Part of Parenting."  It is beautiful, and I encourage you to read it when you have five spare minutes.

In case you are very, very young, or spent the eighties and nineties under a rock, Anna Quindlen is a former New York Times columnist-turned-novelist.  She spent many years documenting her life as a mother of three in her Times column, and as a result, she has been hailed as the mother of all mommy-bloggers.  (My husband disputes this; he claims Erma Bombeck got there first.  I will concede this point out of great admiration for Ms. Bombeck.  Because Ms. Bombeck came a generation before Ms. Quindlen, however, I prefer to call her the grandma of all mommy-bloggers.)  Anna Quindlen is one of my literary heroes.

"The Best Part of Parenting" recounts all of the wonderful phases children go through as they grow.  Most of these struck a chord with me.  I too count myself as a survivor of the snuggly newborn, the tantrum-prone toddler, the long nights and haggard mornings associated with constantly virus-ridden preschoolers, the elementary-school math homework, the middle-school bullying and angst, music too loud, skirts too short, nights too late, skin issues, body issues, parent-teacher conferences, long nights of drama rehearsals at the high school, SAT classes, driving courses and crushes.

It's exhausting again, just thinking about it all.

But Ms. Quindlen concludes that it's all worthwhile, and now that her children are grown, she believes she has reached the best part of parenting.  Having three polite, educated, engaging adults at her dinner table, the result of all that hard work over the decades, gives her the greatest thrill of all.

Many times over the years, I have thought that I had reached the best part.  The day the previously-nonverbal toddler suddenly said, out of nowhere, "I love you, Mommy."  The day the musically-talented child passed the audition and was admitted to the prestigious school.  The day the one with dyslexia finished reading a novel and told me how enjoyable it had been.  The day the grade-schooler made dinner for the family, to surprise me after I got home from my first long day back at work.

I know now that I am nowhere near the peak.  I suspect that Ms. Quindlen is not, either.  Someone will graduate.  Someone will get married.  Someone will land a wonderful job.  Someone will buy a house or apartment in a wonderful location.  And maybe someday someone will give me a grandchild.

I suspect, Ms. Quindlen, that that will truly be the best part.

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Please read the blogs I have posted links for at the right and at the bottom of this page.  In addition to the New York Times' Motherlode blog, you will find some very entertaining and inspiring stuff there.

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