As a mother, I have a tendency to share the highs much more often than the lows. Honestly, I hate (yes, that is a strong word, but I'm going to use it here) all of these articles floating around the Internet about how (insert: depressing, hard, awful, boring, seven hells) parenting is. I just want to shout, DID YOU THINK CHANGING 13 POOPY DIAPERS A DAY, COMMUNICATING WITH A PERSON WHO CANNOT SPEAK A HUMAN LANGUAGE, AND ALL THE DAMN LAUNDRY WOULD BE FUN ALL OF THE TIME?
I sure as hell didn't.
I'm actually going to be honest with you, I don't even really like kids.
I know how that sounds, because, well, I have three of them. Someone that doesn't like kids should probably not have so many of them, right? But, I love my kids. I even really, really, LIKE my kids. They are hilarious and smart and silly and freaking awesome. I like my relatives children. I like my friends children. But, I'm not going to go out of my way to do stuff with a bunch of kids.
As a stay-at-home-mom, a lot of people seem to suggest that I should run a daycare. WHY WOULD I WANT TO HAVE A BUNCH OF OTHER PEOPLE'S KIDS AT MY HOUSE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY? I watch one boy on Fridays, and that's enough for me. He's super chill, the same age as Abram, and is just a cool little dude. I can't begin to fathom what having 6 more of him would be like though. (Well, maybe if they were as cool and easy-going as him, I'd consider it.) But, gross. All of the diapers and dishes and toys all over the place! No thanks!
But, let me tell you-- I served at our church with 2nd and 3rd graders this past weekend, and it's not that it was awful, it's just not my gifting. I don't know how to talk to kids like they are not little grown-ups. That's why my kids have such extensive vocabularies and are experts in sarcasm before their 3rd birthdays. Unfortunately, you can't talk to other people's children like that. But, for some reason, kids seem to flock to me. They always want to hang out with me, and I'm all like, "Ew." I felt like the biggest phony-baloney for 2 straight hours, while I had my stepford wife smile plastered to my face and I had to pretend I was patient.
Elementary School Teachers- YOU ARE GODS. Because, I could never do that.
Anyway, I digress. Back to motherhood.
You guys, it's not easy. I have grown two little humans in my body within 3 years, and sometimes my hormones are so out of whack that I just want to sit in the bathroom with a bottle of Pinot Noir, a giant jar of Nutella, a tube of red lipstick and laugh-cry for hours. (Can you imagine if I actually did that? My children would be scarred for life, as I emerged from the bathroom 2 hours later, drunk, smeared red lipstick and mascara running down my cheeks, hazelnut chocolate spread all over. Let's maybe also insert hiccups here.) But, I don't. I keep my shit together because I am a mother. (At least in front of them- my poor husband, he's seen me cry too many times as I've struggled with the phrase Am I good enough?)
As parents, as mothers, we have a responsibility to our children to handle ourselves, our emotions, and our hormones.
Postpartum Depression is a very real thing. I'm struggling with it as we speak.
But, for every meal I've slaved over that the kids don't want to eat (which, in turn, makes me want to lose my shit) there are 15 more dance parties, cuddles while we read books, art projects, and just general love to share.
These children, I am not worthy of them. They are on loan to me until the Lord sees fit to take them back & the only thing I can control is how well I love them.
I cannot control how messy they are.
How much they choose to fight and cry that day.
If they decide to not eat a dang thing but continually ask me for popsicles.
If they fight bedtime tooth and nail and all I want is to work on my book or read Game of Thrones.
All I can do is love them.
Parenting is hard you guys. It's not easy. It's a lot of exhaustion, cleaning, patience-testing. If you have three kids, you and your partner might have to pencil in sexy-time (sorry, babe!) because spontaneity just can't happen.
But, it also opens your eyes to mindfulness and giving your best.
You have to put effort into everything. Into planning meals and effectively getting through the chores. In recognizing the beauty and hilarity of everything. Into making time for your partner and appreciating them. In finding time for yourself. In finding time for your friends.
It sounds overwhelming, and it is. But, damn, if it doesn't make you feel alive, all of this constant mindfulness, I don't know what will.
I have a tendency to laugh a lot throughout my day. When my kids all decide to cry at the same time, or the cat pukes on the floor and my poor son wipes out in it because I was nursing my youngest while the puking occurred and couldn't get up to clean it yet, or when my 6 year old returns home from school & is so annoyed that her baby brother is following her around asking her to play "Choo-choo trains" and all she wants to do is play barbies on her own (she usually plays with him anyway- awwww!).
Last night, I had a come-to-Jesus moment. I had slaved over a delicious healthy dinner. I found a recipe on Pinterest that I wanted to try- Greek Chicken, made potatoes and green beans & in general just a giant mess out of the kitchen because, well, cooking while taking care of 3 kids isn't the easiest thing.
I found out right before I'm about to put dinner on the table that my husband wasn't going to be home from work until 7pm (he had left for work at 6:30am- I was basically exhausted from over 12 hours of no back-up/relief) so I served dinner to the kids without him. Abe mashed everything up, though he did eat a small amount- but mostly he created some sort of sculpture. Eva licked things in disgust, complaining throughout the meal, and I held Maggie while she whaled, shoving food into my mouth with one hand because I was starving.
It was terrible you guys. I kept thinking, Why do I even try?
It took everything I had not to bawl like a baby when my husband finally walked in the door. He sensed my sadness, and ate his meal with such enthusiasm that I went out of my way to make sure we had special Azia-Garrett time. (hehehe)
But, I try because I love my family, I love myself. And to not try would not only let my family down, I would be letting myself down.
So, yes- these kids don't quite understand how defeated they can make me feel when they don't eat the food I've prepared. But, they are kids, you guys. They aren't trying to make me feel bad. And, one day, they are going to remember that their mother put real food on the table every single night, and went out of her way to make sure the family sat together and prayed over their meal, that we shared about our day.
Parenting is hard you guys, but it's awesome. I wouldn't trade these children in for anything.
I think as a society, we tend to make parenting much more than it is. Which lands us in this territory bordering dissatisfaction. If you are having children to fill yourselves up, you are going to continually be disappointed. Parenting just is. Just love your children, try your best and give yourself grace. It isn't going to be awesome all of the time. But, it's also not the drag that these countless articles want to make it out to be.
Khalil Gibran says it best:
“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For thir souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”