I’ve been noticing something lately. The more I read the blog posts that are liked and shared and tweeted and pinned, the more I am seeing a pattern emerge. There are a lot of moms talking about being moms. Mostly they are talking to other moms. And the message seems to be something along the lines of…
It’s okay. You are going to make it through this. Even though you are worn out; even though you feel wrecked. You yelled at your kids today, but you also hugged them. They threw a wild temper tantrum in the middle of the store, but then they told you how beautiful you are. You are bored; you are overstimulated. You are tired; you can’t sleep. You work really hard and you never get anything done. Motherhood is awful and motherhood is wonderful and you are not alone.
I couldn’t agree more with these writers. I am a working mom with three kids under the age of 5. I know crazy.
I vividly remember what it was like to be the mom of newborn twins. I used to cry when my husband walked out the door for work in the morning, knowing that I was on my own for the next 10 hours, all alone with babies who screamed more than they slept. It probably would have done me a world of good to have a chorus of voices surrounding me, telling me that my unwashed hair, my messy house, and my tear-streaked face were par for the course.
Here is my issue, though (and you knew I had an issue). That is where the chorus ends. It’s a cliffhanger. They are telling us that parenthood is really difficult and sometimes insane, and I suppose I should draw the conclusion that eventually the children will grow up and it will all sort itself out.
I’m not okay with that. I want my daily life to make sense now. I don’t want to balance out the lows with highs and call it a wash. I want to learn from the lows, celebrate the highs, and be present for the moments in between.
When the boys were three months old, Jeremy and I had a bit of an epiphany. We were sitting in a messy house on a beautiful summer day. As new parents, we didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves. We hadn’t yet learned how to enjoy a life that looked so radically different from our former one. After a fairly brief conversation, we started packing. No way we were wasting a summer. It was road trip season, and we had places to go. It was time to learn how to get there with kids in tow.
Almost five years later we are still reinventing our lives. If we try to do something silly like read the New York Times on a Sunday morning, our boys will start launching stuffed animals across the room by using the ceiling fan. We love our home, but if we spent day after day within the confines of these walls, there would be a lot of screaming and a lot of crying, and most of it would probably be coming from yours truly.
So yes, parenting is hard. The truth, though, is that we never have the behavior problems on a mountain that we have in the playroom. It is a challenge to get out with kids, but it is the best sort of challenge. For some reason it is far more palatable to say ‘don’t play near the edge of the cliff’ 100 times than ‘don’t jump on my couch’ 5 times.
We have had epic fails. There was that ‘easy’ 7-mile hike in Maine and the great Hawk Mountain meltdowns of 2011 and 2013. There is whining. And there is whining. And there is whining.
But we are committed to adventure with our children. It gives them room to run and scream and be curious. And it keeps us from feeling the mind-numbing crush of the no’s and the don’ts and the stop thats.
So moms (and dads), we get it. Life with young ones can feel like a soul-sucking enterprise. We really do understand. Now get out of the house and breathe fresh air and see big sky. Let your kids scream because it is adorable when it is not in your home. And look at your partner and love them just a little more than you did this morning when you were surrounded by dirty laundry and a sink full of dishes.
I guess it is a bit of a dare. Try it and tell me it doesn’t work. A bit of sun, a bunch of sticks, maybe some sand or dirt. You will like each other a whole lot more. Then you can start having fun.