PLEASE STOP TELLING ME TO ENJOY MY KIDS
On the days when I am a walking zombie, operating on countless cups of coffee and running on fumes, trying to make it to wherever (everywhere) and whenever (bedtimes, always), I daydream about the future. I dream about a day when all the kids are older - where no one needs help wiping their bottom, finding a shoe, sock, clean pants, permission slip, hairbrush, favorite stuffy, money, their lucky rock, homework, folder or anything else, as we're running late; where I'm not on my hands and knees, bone-tired, scrubbing vomit out of the carpet, for a second time, at 3:00 am and then comforting a little sick one until 4:00 am or where I'm not facing down 60 extra pounds, postpartum.
I think to myself, while driving (because as homeschoolers, we're not home a whole lot), "won't it be nice to have pretty things around the house that won't get broken, freshly painted walls that stay clean, and fancy furniture free of stains, chips and dents? Won't it be nice to go on a leisurely romantic date or wear dry clean only dresses again? And how about some peace and quiet to form engaging thoughts beyond mac & cheese, homemade playdoh, and laundry?" I've forgotten what it's like to spend unhurried time alone, free of mom guilt.
And then I cry (like I am right now), because the immaculate house that I sometimes long for and the peace and quiet that I never get to enjoy and the non-existent unhurried time for personal pursuits are all coming and when that day comes, I will wish for all the glorious chaos and little people madness to return back into to my life so that I may get a second chance to do it right - yell a little less, hug a little more, and play often with my kids, instead of folding more dang laundry or whatever else I foolishly thought took priority over playing dress-up with my children.
I realize that this beautiful life is God-ordained and that what I have with my big young family is unabashedly wonderful, blessed, magical, joyful, amazing, hilarious, and hands down the best part of living.
But you know what?
It is insanely loud at my house most of the time, and sometimes chaotic, physically exhausting, mentally draining, unspeakably messy, shatteringly hard, and at times, daunting and discouraging as I wonder if I'm messing them all up or doing a good job. Honestly, sometimes it's hard to tell.
The pressures to meet the impossible perfectionstic standards of motherhood are so high in 2018 that it is hard to be a mother and wife without having deep regrets no matter which way you go and no matter how fantastic a job you are doing.
So, yes - although I love my family and appreciate my husband and adore my 6 kids, somedays I do not enjoy motherhood. There, I said it. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy being a mother or that I regret having kids. Of course not.
It's just that motherhood isn't all unicorns and rainbows, homebaked cupcakes, pretty bedtime lullabies, and Ikea-organized kids' rooms with wall-to-wall Pottery Barn decor. That, my friends, is social-media motherhood, not real motherhood.
There are many things that I enjoy about motherhood that are actually enjoyable, like: a day at the park with my kids and our friends; baking a simple recipe with my little ones who always love to put food coloring in absolutely everything; reading a favorite bedtime story for the 100th time and making it sound just as fun as the very first time; throwing a birthday party for one of my six(!) amazing children who are indeed growing up too fast; watching the Super Bowl Halftime show together over bad food and loud jokes; slipping in quietly to watch my kids sleep and tuck them in gently while they sleep; watching their viral Fortnite dance that they’ve mastered, and watching them walk down an aisle to proudly accept a certificate or give a performance. These are just a few of the countless things that I enjoy with my kids and about my kids. With six unique, smart, talented, funny and wildly spontaneous kids, the list of things to enjoy about them is endless.
However, more often than not, motherhood also includes a mountain of dirty laundry, scratches on the expensive new furniture and stains on the curtains. Motherhood on any given day, can mean managing the blood curdling scream of your child's tantrum (in public) or, my favorite - incessant whining, sibling fighting and a messy house full of broken things. I don't enjoy this side of motherhood. I'll say it again, I don't enjoy some parts of motherhood and I don't think I ever will. Honestly, who 'enjoys' a child's tantrum or the smell of vomit or a sink full of dirty dishes or sitting in a doctor's waiting room for hours with a sick infant, toddler, or preK child who is ready to climb the walls?
By day's end, sometimes I am the one ready to climb the walls. I don't enjoy that. And that's ok.
So when a sweet older woman or grandfatherly gentleman looks fondly at my family and smiles at me and says, "Enjoy your family. They grow up so fast..." I feel thankful for their collective wisdom but I also feel a little angry and a whole lot guilty. Why? Because the moment they tell me to enjoy my family, my mind goes to all those moments that I don't enjoy and I feel 100 times guiltier. Guilty for not seeing the joy and blessing in middle-of-the-night vomit fests and guilty for missing the"enjoyment" of doing 16 loads of laundry at the laundromat (every Saturday while I save up for a new washer) and guilty for badly wishing my crying sick baby would sleep in his crib, like right now(!) because I am dead on my feet from rocking him and my alarm is about to go off in 45 minutes. Some things are not "fun", "enjoyable", or "happiness"-invoking. Some things in motherhood are just "hard" and "unenjoyable".
So, here is my homeschooling mom's confession of the day: I don't enjoy every aspect of motherhood.
But please, don't tell me to enjoy my kids, because I already do.