Yes, you read that right. Drowning. Can we just be honest for a minute about kids? I believe there may be no other tried and true path to losing one’s mind. If you, like me, have several young children, you know what I’m talking about. I have four kids age six and under, including a 12 month old and a 2.5 year old. It’s killing me.
Can we just commiserate for a moment? You’re a parent, surely you can relate. And even if you can’t, I feel like I need to record this snippet of my life. It won’t be like this forever. They will grow up and I will scarcely be able to imagine that it was actually so hard when they were little. Hopefully I can read this post years from now and laugh… perhaps cynically… at how somehow I managed to escape parenting young kids with my sanity.
I do want to mention that I am forever grateful for my babies. I have friends who struggled with infertility. Several who won’t have kids. I had a miscarriage before my first and know that pain well, although it surely pales in comparison to what others face. Gratefulness aside, my reality right now is that of a stay at home mom of four kids.
I wake up in the morning to smiling faces that I love dearly. They beam smiles full of sunshine, give me giant hugs, and are filled with a joy that makes me happy to be alive and even happier to call them mine. Then about 10 minutes after breakfast, they start in on the “I’m hungry, I need a snack” brigade. It lasts until lunch. I do nothing with my morning except prepare snacks (does dumping pirate booty out of the bag count? It should…), assist the toddler in pulling down her pants, getting on the potty, and if I’m lucky I get to wipe her bottom before she scoots off the toilet leaving poop marks everywhere. Because she’s the child who will be the next CEO of a large business. That kid knows exactly what she wants, she’s persistent, and doesn’t accept anything less than perfection. If we venture out of the house, I can guarantee we stop at every bathroom along the way and I then have to do the potty routine while also holding a wiggly 12 month old.
I hate public bathrooms.
By the time lunch rolls around, I’m done. I’m trying not to cry tears of frustration because I have gotten nothing accomplished. Not even a single thought to myself. Although I have usually succeeded in hiding in the pantry (thank God it’s a walk in) and I may or may not have eaten an entire bar of dark chocolate while hiding from the incessant screams of the CEO toddler. Another day will pass with no workout, although I had fully intended to go running when I woke up in the morning with so much hope for the day. If I’m lucky, I can find a few minutes at nap time to make a cup of coffee (decaf- caffeine and I don’t get along) with collagen and cocoa powder and fresh cream, because it makes me feel human.
The hardest part of the day is yet to come… the two hours between when all kids wake up around 3:30 and when we eat at 5:30. Somehow I’m supposed to make dinner with two children crying and hanging on my legs, a first grader who I need to assist with reading, and a preschooler who is good as gold and gets nothing for it because I have nothing left of myself after dealing with the demands of the CEO toddler. It breaks my heart. Yet somehow we eat dinner every night, together as a family. At least eating is a requirement for our survival, otherwise I’m not sure we would accomplish dinner.
Mama needs a beer. Cold and dark and of the stout variety, please.
We recently got back from vacation (need to write about those adventures in a separate post) and the lady who owned our VRBO rental was a saint. She had raised nine (9!!!!) children and invited us into her home when our cabin lost power, let our kids snack and play with their grandkids toys and visit with their farm animals. She texted me later that I was a supermom and doing a great job taking my kids to do these things, and to never let anyone tell me otherwise.
I cried. Because as parents we are not told nearly enough that we are doing a great job. We all feel like failures. There is just so much we are told we should do and should not do that the standards for being good are simply unattainable. I cried at the kindness of a stranger, because I need those words in my life waaaaaaay more often.
Particularly more often than the crucifying “enjoy them while they’re little, they grow up so fast.” Don’t say that to me. It makes me want to punch you. Kidding (sort of…) C’mon. We all forget the bad and remember the good. You’re forgiven. But you know your kids drove you nuts when they were little. Keep the reminiscing to yourself and show me some compassion, because if you dig deep down, you will remember these trying times and not just the snuggles and smiles.
So the next time you see a parent with young children, look them in the eye and tell them they are amazing. They are doing a great job. That they will (I hope?) gain their sanity back someday and that their children will turn out wonderfully even if they eat pizza for dinner sometimes. Maybe offer to watch their kids so they can be alone in their own house for an hour. Gosh how I would love that. Offer some adult conversation over coffee. It’s a lonely world when you’re drowning amid toddlers.
You’re doing a great job!