This weekend, a friend of my mother's - who she met while at the Optimum Health Institute several years ago - came to stay with us. Lea is from Ireland and she is absolutely lovely. She attends OHI every year for a few months to "detox" and whenever she is in town, we always try to see each other.
Lea currently lives in Northern California. She is one of the most gracious, peaceful, classy, soulful, earth loving people I've ever met. Twenty years ago, Lea ran a Montessori school. She is wonderful with children and her demeanor exudes calmness, patience and love.
Just having her in our home has an extremely peaceful affect on me.
Saturday morning when we sat down to eat breakfast, Lea was attempting to tell the children a beautiful story about a Quail named Robert. But she was distracted because Carolyn was trying to look under her shirt to see if she makes milk, William was continuously interrupting to see the earring holes in her ears, and Henry was screeching. Then there was Elizabeth who wasn't feeling well and with a temperature of 103, was trying to curl up on Lea's lap.
It was pure mayhem and the peaceful Lea looked over at me and said "I have no idea how I ran a school for so many years. How on earth did I do it?" I replied, "I don't know, you tell me. I have no idea how I have survived the past year."
The last time we saw Lea, Henry had not yet been born and I remember talking to her at length regarding my concerns with having four children under the age of three. And I clearly remember Lea telling me that if I could just get through three-years-old, four is a wonderful age. Yet this weekend, after seeing the drama and the hysteria, Lea told me that their behavior is perfectly typical and four will probably be the most challenging age yet.
I've been seriously holding out hope that within the next month, a tremendous transformation will have taken place. Where suddenly, our children will become reasonable and as a unit, they will become tolerable. But Lea crushed my theory and when I told her that people, including herself, had said FOUR would be the magic age, our elegant friend snorted.
For the past day, I've been thinking about how surviving the first few years of parenting is a lot like learning how to swim. When I was a child, I have memories of my older siblings standing in the swimming pool and encouraging me to paddle out to them.
"Come on, you can do it! It's only a little ways!"
Summoning what courage I could muster, I would jump in to the water and while attempting to stay afloat, I would struggle to reach my siblings, only to see that they were slowly walking backwards, away from me.
Instead of swimming a mere three feet, I would have swum six, nine, twelve feet. I would have made it across the pool and my siblings would be cheering me on, "See! You did IT!! You didn't think you could do it, but look what you've accomplished!!"
"Sure! And hey my whole life only flashed before my eyes once!"
Now, I am on the brink of our children turning four. And although I am proud of how far I have made it without requiring resuscitation, some days the edge of the pool still looks awfully far away.