– “Is this for real?”
– “Can I seriously not even _________, without __________?”
– “Shouldn’t I be able to just ________?”
A few days ago, I realized that all of the above questions, are questions that I have been asking myself WAY too often lately.
“Seriously, Toddler, you’re gonna just scream the ENTIRE way home?”.
Dinner is boiling over on the stove, my five year old is notifying me (by yelling) from the bathroom that he stopped the toilet up, my toddler just hit his head on something and is now crying, and I’m thinking, “is this for real??”.
I have to pee. Just PEE for heaven’s sake. It should take me about 40 seconds, max. And The Toddler is sitting in my lap while I do it. And the Preschooler is standing at the door asking if he can have another lollipop…“can I seriously not even pee without being interrupted???”
I just put Baby down for his nap. I just set Older Kid up on the couch with popcorn and a movie. Before I start my list of chores, I’m going to sit down for five minutes, drink the Diet Dr. Pepper I’ve been fantasizing about all morning, and check Facebook. But…Netflix is suddenly not working, and the popcorn apparently needs a bit more salt. So that needs to be dealt with…..“shouldn’t I be able to just sit down for FIVE MINUTES and enjoy some time to myself???”
You get the idea.
And now here comes my huge, life-changing, attitude-changing, change-the-course-of-the-rest-of-all-of-our-lives, revelation: the answers to the above questions are, in this order, “yes”, “yes”, “no”, and “no”.
If you have young children at home with you still, then:
Yes…they seriously are. Yes…this is for real. No….you seriously cannot even. And no……you shouldn’t be able to.
This is the stage of life you are in. Embrace it, and quit being a martyr (and believe me, I am reminding MYSELF of this, even as I write it).
We’ve all read the many blog posts and articles about how fast time flies, and how the dishes can wait, and how your kids need you now, and how once they leave the house, you are never going to regret the time you spent with them, but you WILL regret the time you DIDN’T spend with them, focusing on less important things such as housework, Facebook, and all of your Many Important To-Do’s. We read those things, and they make us feel a bit guilty, remorseful, sad, and resolute that we WILL do better. And they probably SHOULD make us feel like that, to a certain extent. But I would actually add something more to that…our kids, them and all of their loud, messy, inconvenient-at-times, booger-y, poopy little selves, are MAKING US BETTER PEOPLE. You cannot sit in a car with a screaming child for an hour, keeping your tone gentle and your voice kind in spite of it, and NOT learn a lesson in patience. You cannot just sit there and LET that dinner overflow and ruin, because you’ve consciously decided it is more important to love on and soothe your toddler, and NOT learn a lesson in letting go of control. You cannot pee with someone sitting in your lap, and NOT learn a lesson in how to have a sense of humor. You cannot forfeit that coveted five minutes of alone time, and NOT learn a lesson in selfless and sacrificial love. So learn these lessons, and then be infinitely thankful for them.
I have come to realize that much frustration comes when I live in that tense place between “my expectations” and “my reality”. My thought, is that if we could let go of our expectations (OUR agendas, OUR priorities, OUR preferences), even just occasionally, and let the little people in our lives (no matter how little they are, and how many of them there are. And gosh, sometimes it feels like they are just their own ARMY. All two of them) help grow us into better people, the benefit would far outweigh the loss.
I’m not saying you should lose yourself. I’m definitely not saying you don’t ever need a break. I’m certainly not implying that alone time with your spouse isn’t a necessity. By all means, embrace things like babysitters, sleep schedules, early bedtimes, enforced quiet times for the kids…things that allow you to carve time out for yourself. Go to the gym. Go on vacation with your husband. Tell your kids who can’t tell time time yet that it’s bedtime, even when technically it’s only 7:10, and their bedtime is at 7:30, because they won’t know the difference, and you NEED to drink that glass of wine and watch The Bachelor. Like Now. I’m just saying: it’s going to be an exhausting, messy, chaotic, out-of-control phase of life…but I think maybe it’s SUPPOSED to be that way, and it’s definitely a sweet one, chalk full of lessons to be learned, and opportunities to be had.
So EMBRACE it.