We get a say

It had been a long day. 

Like, the baby was up at all hours of the night, we need to go to the doctor for my sons sudden and mysterious rash, we meant to get to the park a lot earlier than we are, why are there more Lego’s and markers out on the table??, kind of day.

Motherhood is crazy making. 

The same tasks that you’re sick of you will surely do over and over. Every day starts off with the best of intentions and is instead ended with a symphony of, “well, maybe tomorrow”s

We finally made it to the park. Two hours after we started trying. But the baby was cluster feeding so the plans to enjoy the late autumn sunshine and walk there were a bust because by the time we walked out the door the sun was already setting because daylight savings time is ridiculous and it’s already blustery out from that system that’s moving in. But, at least we got to play a little.

I was already worried from thinking about winter and being cooped up all day with crazy kids and grayer weather. Wondering what we were going to do with ourselves.

But, we made it to the park. Not before I almost lost it on the way out the door because as I was going around gathering hats and jackets I saw that the house had exploded again. Or maybe the blinders were off and I saw it for the mess that it really was for the first time all day (or, let’s be honest, in several days). I almost lost it because I’m tired and I’m tired of it all and I’m frustrated because I’m starting to sound like one of those, ” if you keep leaving it out, I’m just gonna throw it away” moms.

Like that actually solves anything or fixes the problem. Like that bridges the gap between my children and myself and let’s them know that I love them and that I’m understanding with them and that it really is all okay. Because that same little stuff that I tell them not to worry themselves over, like when toys break, or milk gets spilled or their art project doesn’t turn out perfect is the same kind of little stuff that visibly eats away at mommy. 

And I know it’s not ok, but sometimes I just want to feel like it’s ok to give up and throw in the towel because it’s too hard. I want someone to hit “reset” for me.

We made it to the park and the wind was whipping my hair, signs of that cold front moving in. And I watched my son try to cart-wheel and I saw my daughter go down the biggest slide there was twice in a row and I distinctly remember her being too afraid to do that in the past.

Suddenly, they’re changing. Motherhood is so maddening because you sometimes want to give up or wish it all to be easier but you so desperately want to hang on to every bit of it.

And the cold front moves into my heart, sometimes out of nowhere and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to keep it at bay. And I worry if I’m the only mother who feels like she had to wage war to enjoy all of this because my natural inclination is to not. At all.

My natural inclination is to want things to be exactly how I want them to be, at all times, in all circumstances. No uphill climb. Not forgoing a shower for three days in a row. No spending my Saturday morning to myself scrubbing the shower because that’s the only time that I can do it without them being underfoot. Joy when I’m up to my elbows in spit up and chores.

We made our way over to the baseball field behind the park and started playing a game with the ball and the bases. And they loved it. And for a few minutes, with the phone left in my pocket and my expectations of motherhood to constantly be this transcendent experience forgotten about, we just enjoyed ourselves.

Expectations are like an anchor that we can suddenly find ourselves tied to. Instead of anchoring us level and secure, it will pull us under if we aren’t careful.

Instead of riding the waves, instead of harnessing the wind when the days are good and when they don’t go so great, we sink. When the days are rough, we should either let ourselves go with it and be tossed, or we harness the momentum against itself and turn things into something better. We go further than we thought that we would get. 

We don’t have to sink.

I don’t have to sink. I forget that I. Don’t. Have. To sink. And I actually have a say in it.

I can be on top of it. Not by getting it all done, but by remembering what matters. Remembering that grace is ever flowing, ever free. Tomorrow is a new day. My children are what matters. And there is no place that I would rather be.

Firm and secure. And true. 

I just have to hold on.

 

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

“How did THAT happen?”

 

That is probably my favorite question as of late. That is, if the definition of “favorite” is equatable to “phrase most often used.”

I love checking out websites built just for moms to see what other moms have to say on just about anything. They provide a wonderful community for parents everywhere. They usually feature thoughtful bloggers who share a wealth of personal research and experience on  just about any parenting related issue that you can imagine. I may not always agree, but sometimes, I find a gem of an article or blog post that rocks my socks.

While it’s good to have a mound of research at your fingertips, the things that I sometimes want to sit down and Google an answer for are things that probably don’t even have an answer to begin with. Questions like….

How did you get Go-Gurt all down the front of yourself and all over your seat belt?

How did your sister just happen to magically get knocked over into the wall?

How did this house implode again in record time after I just cleaned the heck out of it last night??

Why did you just run your sticky with spaghetti hands through your hair again, daughter?

How do we get children to remember that we don’t unlock and open the bathroom stall door just as mommy is pulling down her pants? 

How can we get children to refrain from arguing about whether or not that is an airplane or a jet flying overhead in the sky?

How can we get children to remember that we don’t just dump water over the side of the tub for the heck of it?

Why does my daughter insist on running around naked after dinner? (That one is kind of cute, though.)

Those are the parenting FAQ’s that I personally think should be addressed. Sure, it’s important to know about fevers in infants, disciplining methods, or when to wean. Yes, all well and good. But, the questions that I have all relate to how to NOT go crazy when your children are arguing over one single marker when there is an entire pack of 24 of right. next. to them. And it’s never even over a good color. It’s usually brown or something. Phffft.

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Can we hold that parenting summit and give parents a chance to air some of their other grievances? A parenting U.N. maybe?

Yes, hi, my name is Ashley. And I understand the benefits of setting boundaries for my children and teaching them to look both ways when they cross the street. But, I have some other questions that I’d really like some direction on.

How come I sometimes have to do dishes three times in just one day? Do dishes grow and reproduce overnight in the sink? Who makes these mystical dishes and can these dishes that magically germinate overnight be marked somehow like GMO’s so we know what we’re getting at the time of purchase?

Or, why is it that no matter how many packs of socks I buy, I have such an incredibly hard time almost every day finding even a single pair that matches for either one of my children? Just where do socks GO when they aren’t being worn? And what to do you do when the husband and you haven’t had a date night, much less an uninterrupted conversation about your mortgage payment, in weeks and all you want to see is the inside of anywhere, even an Applebee’s? 

Those are the questions that we need some serious scientific research for. We have established the benefits and risks of an epidural during child-birth. We have ventured into the territory of breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding. We have figured out that you can somehow power a clock with a potato. We have put men on the moon. Can somebody please tell me how to get your children to put their toys away? 

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If there even is an answer to such mysteries, somewhere out there in the universe….I probably wouldn’t want them. I don’t want to know why my son is in a stage where you he needs to put his mouth on everything. Hand rail at the YMCA? Check. Side of the sink at the dentist’s office? Check. Back of the dining room chair? Check.

We can take comfort that such things are normally stages. They do typically grow out of running around the dining room table naked and dumping their dinner on their head. That and the fact that they’re adorable, so it’s all excusable at the end of the day.

 

Share your favorite “How did THAT happen???” below if you so wish. Or any of your other great parenting mysteries. AND, click “follow” in the toolbar on the right to get my new posts in your WordPress Reader or email inbox!

 

Mom’s Speak – REALLY???

Another week, another controversial magazine cover.

If it isn’t the prodding at Kate Middleton’s post-baby bump (really?), or the celebriefied (I totally just made that word up) appearance of the Boston Bombing Suspect on the cover of Rolling Stone, then it’s definitely something else that’s totally woeful.

This week, the dubious honors belong to Time Magazine, their latest cover blaring in full-force “The Childless Life.” Two people, a dude and a gal, are aying on the beach, sunglasses in place, perfect bathing suit bodies, coy smiles on their face – the poster children (no pun intended) for the child-free life.

While, no, I must admit that I haven’t gotten to actually read the article itself, I have had to settle for the juicy tidbits that I have come across in other write up’s about the article’s content. In short, there is this new ‘phenomenon’ occurring, where each year less and less people are choosing the route of parenthood and opting for a more fulfilling lifestyle by investing into their careers, their vacations and themselves.

**Before you all think that I’m some crazed and textbook example of a “right-wing nut” who is merely concerned with the female reproductive organs, or at least, reproductive organs in general, let me dispel that notion very quickly with this: first of all, if you think that is, by definition,  a pillar of conservatism then you’re dumb and number two, you’re being biased if you think that marital reproduction can only be a one-way conversation to only be had and decided upon by women.**

OK, so anyway, can you all tell how much this ruffles my feathers, people?

And it isn’t because I think that ALL that human beings are meant to do is reproduce and that if we can’t do that, then we’re simply worthless. NO, silly heads, that really isn’t what grinds my gears.

This cover is yet another glaring reminder of the erosion of our society. Yes, those two glossy (and kind of shiny) people on the cover of Time are a red flag for me. No, not because I think laying on the beach, being married (or unmarried) with children by a certain age is a small crisis in and of itself or because I think that people shouldn’t worry about exploring the world or traveling before or after children (I’d take plane ticket to somewhere with a beach right about now, if anyone wanted to offer one up.) It’s because those Cheshire Cat grins indicate something else. Another author put it so perfectly that I’m totally going to borrow her wording.

We are the “Selfie” generation.

Let’s tune out everything else, because I’m talking. It’s about my gratification, my hopes, my dreams, my timing, my wants, my possessions, my needs, my smart phone, my Facebook, my car, my dislikes, my likes, my….

It’s endless.

There are people who practice healthy family planning, yes. There are certain people who are probably better served by not having children, yes. There are people who are waiting to have children, yes. There are people who are not naturally able to have children, yes. There are people who bypass having their own biological children and instead adopt, yes.

None of the scenarios that I just listed up there ^^ are bad. But this attitude that we would be better served if we weren’t having children is slowly becoming THE NORM. Where as 40 years ago it was 1 out of 10 women and these days it’s now 1 IN 5 women who are deciding against diaper duty. Something is strangely amiss there. Is this something to be celebrated? I’m not sure. No, I don’t advocate for casting out people who choose not to have children, no. But should magazines be having a one-sided discussion about this topic? No!

There are many reasons that one may decide against having children all together. I think the most popular one is preservation: I want to preserve my body (or my wife’s body), I want to preserve my time, my space, my career, my goals, my hobbies, my Fridays, my this or my that. When in actuality, do you know what comes knocking at your door when you blow out the candles on your 65th birthday cake? Regret.

Your body is going to end up shriveled one day no matter what you do, you’ll retire from or switch jobs or get a new career all together, traveling will only get you so far (pun intended) and are you really going to wish that you had more time for watching Doctor Who? reruns on a Saturday night when you’re 76 instead of having raised a progeny and cultivated a heritage to leave future generations? Probably not.

The point I’m trying to make about any of those things is: they’re fleeting excuses.

 

Another reason I think that this is occurring: a gradual deemphasis on the societal role of family. The value of the cohesive family is being pushed to the side in the pursuits of other more “fulfilling” outlets. People grow up these days not realizing the important role that strong families holds in our society and the beautiful function that they serve. Parenting and children are not valued as much as they were 60 years ago and this is evident in the eroding behavior of our children these days, the fact that adults are opting out of having kids all together and our ever rising divorce rates.

I am not knocking people who plan, people who have goals, people who dream. NO. My husband and I waited to have children. Not long, but three years. There is nothing wrong with being slightly pragmatic about your family planning.  I am not condemning people who have had divorce or never had children or never married. But I can’t help but think there is more to the “childless” attitude than simply being logistical about having children. It’s the idea that there are BETTER things to invest in than children. That we have more important work to do, that there are things more worthy of our time.

I bet you’re glad that your own parents didn’t feel that way, because I sure as heck am. 

So there ends my rant (for now.)

What do you guys think? Is the childless life a problem or not? What do you think causes it?