For all intents and purposes, I am an only child. I grew up in a house of one. I never shared a bedroom, had a sibling wear my out-grown clothes, or fought over too much time spent in a bathroom. So, being a parent of three children is like an out of body experience for me every, single, day. I'm constantly questioning "is this normal?" I wage war against noise, dirty laundry and hormones regularly. I toggle roles between playmate, tutor, chore master, chef, party planner, maid, comedian, life coach, muse, taxi driver, authoritarian and game warden to name a few. And, it is exhausting!
Some days I feel plagued by un-flushed toilets, a sink full of dirty dishes and laundry baskets filled with unfolded clothes. And clutter, lots and lots of clutter. The words “what the hell?!?!” is on a constant loop in my head. Unidentified, greenish in color, petrified something or other smeared on the wall? “What the hell?!” Food wrappers shoved in-between the couch cushions?“What the hell?!” Rocks and crayons in coat pockets only discovered after said coat went through the washer. AND the dryer! “What the hell?!” And, every time the loop is played it comes out with a different feeling or meaning. This simple, multi-purpose, three-word phrase can sound fast and mad like, “WHATTHEHELL!!” Or, slow and questioning like, “wwwwhhhhhaaaaa tthee hheelllll????” Seriously, books on how to raise kids should be titled, that’s right, What the Hell?!
Television shows often try to portray the overworked, overly frazzled stay-at-home mom type, but you know what, they never, ever get it right. The sets are just too perfect. The actor’s hair is just too coifed. The clothing is just too high-end. And, the children’s behavior is just too fake and annoying. My real-life is uncensored and messy, filled to the brim of mostly terrible and stress, sprinkled with dabs of magical.
Noise and chaos is what it really boils down to. Just noise and chaos. But when you least expect it, in the middle of all that noise and chaos are small glimpses of fantastical awesome-ness. Little, prescious, sometimes unexplainable, moments that, if you are quick enough and you let it, fill your heart to the brim and make all that horrible noise and chaos worth the trip.
Example! My youngest daughter is a major pain to put to bed. She pretty much always has been. Bedtime is not her thang. She beats to her own, sparkly drum and takes her sweet, excruciatingly painful time with everything. It drives me absolutely insane. Like drive me to drink copious amounts of liquor insane. Instead of brushing her teeth, she stands staring into the mirror while humming and examining her facial expressions for twenty minutes. Putting pajamas on takes another fifteen minutes because she can’t find that one tank top she wore two nights ago and nothing else (not even the cutest, brand-new pjs plus twenty bucks) will do. Then it takes another five to ten minutes to pick out the longest bedtime stories in the history of bedtime stories. Before you know it, that seven o’clock bedtime has turned into almost eight thirty, and, you know that show you've been waiting to watch already started. Exhausted and frazzled, the lights go off almost two hours after you’ve started putting the child to bed. But, just before you close the door all the way, that child, that same child that wore you down and chiseled away every patient nerve in your body will squeak out some over the top adorable sweetness like “I love you more than anything Mommy!” in the cutest, most sincere voice and with every fiber of your being, you know she means it. THEN! Then, your heart explodes.
That’s what raising kids is exactly like. Just when you think you can’t take anymore and you are about to push your own self off the cliff and die a most horrible death….your life saver comes in the form of teeny, tiny beautiful moments that are so pure and so amazing they're hard to explain with words.