Many years ago, my aunt Elsie used to own a magical mug in which she would make the most delicious of juices. The perplexing thing about the mug was that whether she had one lime or ten, one pack of Kool Aid or three, the juice always tasted the same and her children and anyone else at her home at the time got enough to drink. My mother, Norma, and my aunt Justina had and still have magical pots, in which, no matter how difficult things get financially, they are able to whip up the tastiest of simple meals for their children and grandchildren at any given time. Another aunt, Margaret, owned a pretty yellow dress that she constantly wore during her pregnancies, and the phenomenal material never weakened no matter how many times she washed and ironed it. My aunt Julie's supernatural power was made manifest through a hat she bought and wore to church every weekend, after leaving her job to become a stay-at-home mom. With limited time and resources to style her hair, the hat worked its magic of turning her into one of the most well-dressed trendsetters in her congregation.
These women didn't stumble upon this wizardry by accident. They inherited it from their parents, my grandparents, whose ability to give of themselves and make sacrifices for the good of their children knew no boundaries. And because of their influences, I believe that I too am coming into my magical own. I may not have the extraordinary juice or food touch, an enchanting dress or hat, but I have developed two preternatural tools that, prior to becoming a parent, I had no idea I possessed and was capable of using so efficiently: an uncanny ability to plan and co-ordinate the many events and activities on #1son's many genres of calenders, and striking the right balance between work and home life to give him the best childhood I can.
Parenting is hard work, physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially and not everyone is cut out for it. In order for children to happy and healthy they need love, attention and stability – things that require many, many sacrifices from parents. But the thing about making sacrifices is that once we start to make them that is when the magic begins to happen. As tiresome and frustrating as it can be sometimes, I can attest, the joy that parenthood brings is more than worth it. And let's not forget the resilience and warrior spirit it helps to inculcate.
One of the first things that goes out the parenting window is pride. I lost mine in the early part of my pregnancy and by the time I got to the end of it I had no desire to find it. I can tell so many stories, in which unkempt and unwashed hair, puke-stained clothes, fainting in stores and banks, losing my balance and falling on the streets, bags under my eyes from lack of sleep all played major roles. It wasn't a pretty sight and sometimes scent, even long after I had given birth. Me time, privacy and control over my life went next. My little boy was everywhere and into everything, and simple things like a long, quiet shower suddenly became luxuries, as my life now revolved around one toddler's needs and wants.
A clean kitchen sink and an empty laundry basket are still few and far between, even ten years later. Bottles, sippy cups, and plastic spoons were soon replaced by glasses, plates and stainless steel cutlery in a sink that seems to remain clean and empty for about all of five minutes on any given day. And I have definitely given up on the laundry war. Tiny vests and onsies are no different to joggers and stinky tennis clothes. And it doesn't matter if you have a toddler or a ten-year-old, you will be drawn into the mystery of the missing sock many times.
I vaguely remember this thing called peace and quiet. Bawling babies, terrible-twos tantrums and boisterous laughter or crying is a major part of parenting, and most times temporarily results in a quick leave of parental sanity. That and the baby and teen songs on repeat, jumping on and flipping over the furniture, the never-ending clean-up-your-room fight, the inability to have an adult conversation without interruption, and home work battles.
The thing with the magic though, is that when their beautiful little eyes lock with ours; when they place their tiny hands in ours and hold on for dear life; when we watch them as they sleep or play; when they lose themselves in our embrace; when they win or lose at something they love; when we see them laugh or cry uncontrollably; when they experience their first whatever; when we realise how fast they are growing up and that we are not ready to let them; the sacrifices – the source of the magic – always become the easiest we've ever had to make.