Caring is Hard

IMG_0485But I care. A lot.

Like most parents, I want the best for my children. But to give them the best means putting my own wants and needs on hold which can be very hard to do. It means putting my phone down, turning my distracted mind off, and interacting with them. It means reading books together when I’d rather not, going for walks when I’d rather not, playing games when I’d rather not. It’s fighting this feeling of not doing anything worthwhile. It’s reminding myself that these are the things that are actually worthwhile. These are the ways to create a fulfilled child. (You know, the whole reason we bring these little people into the world in the first place.)

Just the other day my husband and I received the highest compliment you can get as parents of young kids. A woman sitting near us in a restaurant said that we had lovely children who were so well-behaved. Granted, she might’ve had a little too much vino and we had only been there about 20 minutes before she left, so she saw them in their prime–while the crayons were still keeping them busy and the sugar from their chocolate milks hadn’t kicked in yet. Nonetheless, I stood up to accept my parent of the year award and to make a heartfelt speech about sacrifice and selflessness to our fellow diners. Kidding. We thanked her and then snickered that boy had we fooled her.

Why should I care what this complete stranger thought when I know my kids are well-behaved? I’m well aware of what it’s taken to make them this way–most of my sanity and all of my patience. At least in that moment it felt like my hard work had paid off. I guess that’s what I was thanking her for…for noticing.

I have so much I want to accomplish, yet by the time I’m done trying to mold my mini-mes into self-sufficient decent human beings who feel loved and understood, I’m just too mentally and physically exhausted to do anything but zone out to the world and keep ignoring everything I’ve put on the back burner. So I remind myself that this time in their lives where they actually want me to be a part of everything they do is short-lived and that my time is better spent sharing life with them even if it costs me my own.

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Weird is Good

I was reading to my daughter like we do every night before bed. She interrupted me like she does every night, but this time she said something that caught me off guard.

She said a kid called her weird. She sounded so sad, and for a minute, I was too.

My first reaction was to tell her to ignore this kid, but I paused and tried to think of something better, something that would help her for the next time it happens.

Then it came to me.

I told her that being weird is a good thing. It means you’re not like anyone else. So the next time someone calls you weird, you should say thank you. She laughed a delighted little giggle and I felt good, like I’d said the right thing at the right time.

As I was reveling in my parental sense of accomplishment, my daughter turned over, laughed again, and deliberately farted on me.

I couldn’t sum up parenthood more perfectly if I tried.

Top 10 Movie Titles That Describe Parenthood

Movies! You remember–those things you used to watch before you became a parent. I’m lucky if I get to watch A movie a year these days. I’m not talking about all the children’s movies I have to listen to while doing dishes or folding laundry or picking up toys everywhere. I’m talking about movies with real actors, dialogue instead of sound effects, and an actual plot line. In parenthood, it’s always too late to start a movie, and someone always falls asleep (depending on who got to choose it). Since I haven’t seen anything new, I’ve made a list of my favorites where the titles describe parenthood perfectly.

  1. Dazed & Confused — cause that’s how you wake up every day as a parent.
  2. Reality Bites — cause the reality of parenthood bites compared to what you’d thought it’d be.
  3. Misery — cause even when you’re sick and miserable, you still have to parent.
  4. Groundhog Day — cause every single day you do the exact same thing over and over and over.
  5. There Will Be Blood — cause kids are insane and fall down just standing still.
  6. Clueless — cause that’s how you’ll feel about your parenting skills.
  7. Sleepless in Seattle (or whichever city you live in) — cause you never sleep again.
  8. Fight Club — cause you break up more fights than a referee in a boxing match.
  9. From Dusk till Dawn — cause that’s the only time you get to yourself but you have to spend it trying to sleep.
  10. The Neverending Story — cause anytime your kids tell a story, it’s neverending.

    These are called dvds in case you don’t know

     

Memory Lane

Parenthood is the ultimate plot twist. It starts out as trying to protect a helpless little baby from the big bad world, providing everything she needs to survive until one day she turns into a clever, strong-willed child with a mind of her own, and then it’s the parents who need help surviving.

My baby turns five soon. So naturally I’ve been looking back on my first five years as a parent. It’s mind-boggling to think how much living and learning this tiny person has brought along with her. I keep hearing my mom’s voice in the back of my head like a mantra, “It’ll get easier. It’ll get easier…” Yes mama, it has gotten easier, but it’s gotten much harder in much different ways.

The first year of my daughter’s life was based on survival, hers more than mine, but both of ours together. I remember not knowing a damn thing about being a parent and having to figure everything out from scratch and on very little sleep. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and happy. It was a ton of work, but I remembering loving (almost) every minute of it.

The second year of my daughter’s life was based on safety, in the most basic definition of the word. This was when she was unsteady on her feet and charging the world like a wild stallion–fearless and curious and full of wonder. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t crack open her head.

The third year of my daughter’s life was based on surrender, meaning I had to give up a little bit of control. This was when she started preschool, interacting with other kids, being exposed to more than just our little bubble. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and didn’t bite anyone.

The fourth year of my daughter’s life was based on surprise, meaning I was surprised at just how difficult she could be. This was when she really started to come into her own–her own ideas, her own choices, her own way of doing things. My only goals were to make sure she was fed, clean, and that I didn’t strangle her for never listening to me.

The fifth year…well, that’s this year ahead of us. I’m not sure what it will be based on yet or what all it holds for her, but I’m hopeful that it’s full of love and lots of laughter. Because if I know my daughter it definitely will be. There’s nothing she loves more than making us laugh, and there’s nothing I love more than laughing with her.