We’ve all been there. Had those days as parents when we wonder why we even HAD these kids in the first place.
Oh, I know what we all SAY. We tell people how oh-so-very-blessed we are.We say we cannot imagine life without these babies. We post lovely memes on FaceBook of cherub-faced children that say such poetic crap about our children being our joy, our reason for getting out of bed every morning.
Sure, my kids are the reason I get out of bed every morning. But that’s only because they wake up in argue-whine-scream mode at 7:00 a.m. and are at the side of my bed begging for pancakes and demanding I break up their incessant fights over light sabers and socks.
Look, lets be honest here. We all love our kids. No one is neggating THAT little fact. But we also have moments when we lock ourselves in the bathroom and blast the sink water just so we can sob in defeat. We all make deals with the devil if our angels will just GO TO BED AND STAY THERE because it’s hit after 11 p.m. and we are bone-numbing weary. We all wonder how the flip so-and-so can handle being super mom while dressed like a freaking supermodel and singing songs like Mary Flippin Poppins and meanwhile we consider it a triumph if all in one day we can manage to shower, shave our legs (both of ’em!) and brush our teeth. All while keeping our kids alive thankyouverymuch.
Let me be the first to assure you on this:
IT WON’T ALWAYS BE THIS WAY.
You won’t always have to clear schoolpapers and toys and shoes and sippy cups off of the couch just to clear enough space for your Mother In Law to sit. There won’t always be a barbie in the toilet. Or a matchbox car in the freezer. Or a melted candy bar stuck to the closet floor. Or glue in the cats fur.
Some day, you will be able to buy a brand new pair of shoes and they WON’T get drawn on with a marker. You’ll get a new hoodie sweatshirt and no one will cut the strings off the hood because they need a leash for their stuffed puppy. You’ll have nice dishes and they won’t get broken. All of your silverware will be used only for eating with and will NOT be found out in the yard being used as shovels. The bar of soap in the bathroom won’t be coated in mud. Your windows won’t be covered in smear marks from dirty sticky fingers and greasy noses. Your purse and car will not be loaded with random odds and ends. You’ll sleep straight through the night and wake up feeling rested.
Someday you’ll get that privacy you are always complaining about not having. You’ll get to canoodle with your hubby in the afternoon on the couch if you want to. You won’t have to sit through onemoredamntime of Cars or Monsters Inc or any other Pixar/Dreamworks/Disney animated movie. You’ll get to go to dinners at fancy restaurants and out to see rated R movies. You’ll go on vacations.
You’ll have a whole bed to yourself and your spouse. Or dog. Or yourself. There will be no getting peed on in the middle of the night. No one nursing on you from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. . No tiny feet kicking you in the back. Or in the face. No battling over covers with a 40 pound blanket-hogging gremlin.
You won’t have to stay awake half of the night watching this tiny creature slumbering peacefully because you simply can’t bear to STOP watching. You won’t feel tiny bursts of soft warm breath on your neck as you cradle a sleeping baby on your shoulder and pat her squishy diapered bottom. You won’t get to smell that new-baby smell emenating off of the top of his warm little skull. There won’t be a preschooler at your bed talking about bad dreams and asking sweetly to “sweep wif yew Mawmaw?”
There won’t be anyone who wants to make a tent with you in the living room and watch a marathon of all the classic Disney movies while munching on homemade peanut butter cookies and stove-popped popcorn and strawberry milk while snuggled under fluffy blankets. There will be no one begging you to do your Grover and Yoda impersonations. Their birthdays will come and you won’t get to bust into their room with a bunch of helium balloons in hand while dancing goofily and singing The Beatles “Birthday Song” at the top of your lungs. That room will just be a place where you keep Christmas decorations and old clothes. That bed they used to sleep in will be a “guest bed”. (Although frankly, you never have over night guests.)
Your home will get clean and STAY THAT WAY. You’ll clean those windows until they sparkle in the afternoon sunlight and they will keep on sparkling for days and days after. And you’l sit there one day looking at those pristine windows and recalling how your son would squish his fat little face up to that very window whenever he saw you coming up the walkway, his little nose getting all smooshed to one side as he mouthed to you through the glass: “Mommy!” And you’ll realize how much you miss it. And you’ll kinda wish your windows weren’t so clean.
You’ll miss those after-school drives home when your pre teen would spill out her days story to you and you’ll recall how it sometimes got a bit annoying and silly but now she only calls once a week to chat on the phone with you and you really miss her 12 year old ramblings. You’ll think back to when your son was a teenager and all of his friends would come over and plop down on your furniture and eat you out of house and home and be really really loud and watch The Simpsons and play the XBox and now your house is very very quiet in the evenings and actually kind of boring.
Someday, someday more soon than you even realize, they will be all grown up and gone and you’ll have exactly every little thing you complain about NOT having and very much wanting right now.
And it will only be THEN, that you will realize how much you ironically MISS it all.
Even the tough stuff.
When my first son was born, he was a preemie and struggled to figure out breastfeeding. He would wake up every 3 hours at night to eat. I’d sit in the living room trying SO hard to get him to latch on and nurse. We both tried so hard to get it right. But he never got the latch part right and after awhile he would begin to get frustrated and hungry and begin to cry. So I would pull out the breast pump and pump a bottles worth while crying myself, then feed him that bottle, lay him back down to sleep and go back to bed myself, feeling like a failure and hating the nights myself.
But now, now that that tiny baby is a 12 year old young man, I can look back and realize that it was those long, exhausting nights were the beginning of a wonderful, beautiful relationship with a pretty awesome boy. In those long, hard nights we got to know each other. I found my strength as a mother. I look back and am amazed that as a brand new 21 year old mother I was so very determined to give my son the best start that I would do all of that extra work and sacrifice sleep for it. I recall fondly how zen it was when the entire world was deep asleep and it was just me in the dim quiet of our living room snuggling that tiny perfect little baby and listening to him slurp and gulp and make all of those sweet newborn sounds.
I know as time ebbs on, I will enjoy the journey to come. To watch my relationship with these marvelous young men evolve as they step out into the world and discover their wings.
I also know I will be forever grateful for the short time I had to help them develop roots.