Kids are a lot like a Christmas gift wrapped in barbed wire. Or a cuddly puppy that pees all over your foot. Or a box of chocolates with a bite out of each piece. Like every other mother on the planet, I find my kids are my greatest joy but they are also my biggest source of frustration.
There are days, usually when I am popping TUMS from the constant heart burn, when I wonder why I had them in the first place. I stare at my house in disarray, my eyes blood shot from lack of sleep and running here there and everywhere, my laundry piled to the ceiling, the finger prints all over my windows and the 350 half full bottles of water collecting in the back of my car and wonder if life wouldn’t be easier without them.
Yes dear reader, gasp, clutch your chest and exclaim, “Oh my goodness! How could you even think such a thing! Children are a blessing!”. Yes, yes, they are but I am just being honest here.
If you don’t see the truth in those statements you are either A. a parent who is trying to pretend you’re perfect B. in complete denial C. pregnant with your first child D. don’t have children at all.
There is no mother alive who doesn’t look at her life and wish she could run away from it. At least for an afternoon. You can’t say you haven’t stared longingly out the window at your car and thought, “I have a full tank of gas and $100 stuffed in my underwear drawer. I could get to the boarder before they even know I’m gone.”
Please understand, I am grateful for my children. I truly am. I KNOW there are people who desperately want a child or another child and can’t have them. In fact, I WAS one of those people. I understand it’s heartbreaking and this blog is in no way meant to diminish their pain. It is simply a realistic assessment of the average woman’s love/hate relationship with motherhood.
As newlyweds, my husband and I discussed kids. Back then, I wanted four or five and he wanted two. He won and it’s not because he is the dominant one in our relationship. (Snicker that’s a pretty funny thought.)
The reason he won that battle is because I realized, after having two children, if we added any more into that mix, hubby would be driving me to the nice hospital with the padded rooms.
“Oh please!” You are thinking. “It’s not that bad!” Of course it’s not that bad…all the time. But there are days when I fantasize what it would feel like if I had chosen a different path. I wonder what it would feel like to come home to a clean house. One that didn’t threaten to incapacitate my feet with Lego traps and those tiny little plastic doll shoes that you don’t see until it is too late.
A house without glasses of apple juice stuck to my end table and candy wrappers scattered under the bed. A place that didn’t have hundreds of thousands of poppy seeds scattered all over the kitchen floor (don’t ask). A place where the only piles laundry would be those that I chose to create by changing MY clothes fifty times a day; the only dirty dishes in the sink would be from food I ate (or my husband…I’d let him eat, too I guess).
My fantasy doesn’t end there. In my dreams the only schedule I would be balancing would be my own, my evenings not spent dashing from football practice to gymnastics class and gulping down meals that can be eaten in the car. Rather, they’d be spent leisurely sipping wine over quiet meals and movies without animated characters.
I wouldn’t have to repeat myself a thousand times a day or have someone talk back to me or scream they hate me when they don’t get their way. The only “whine” in the house would be fermented grapes in bottles. I’d read a book without being interrupted every paragraph and I’d be able to form a coherent thought and articulate it without stammering.
I’d carry on phone conversations that didn’t end with the phrase, “gotta go, she’s putting something in her nose” or “oh my God how did you get up there?”.
Our summer vacations wouldn’t revolve around the tricky game of “when will baseball end and football begin?”. We could go to couples only vacation destinations (ones without characters in costumes) and not have to listen to other people’s ill tempered children pitching a fit in the hotel room next to ours or being splashed by some unruly brat in the pool.
We wouldn’t need a sitter when we both wanted to go out. We would have TIME, oh so much time, to stop and smell the roses.
Every time I have this fantasy, I am shaken awake by a blood curdling scream or insistent tapping on my shoulder or pulling on my leg. It is then when I realize that this dream world I envisioned, the one with lots of rose smelling, sounds like quite a lonely one.
By getting rid of all the negative parts of motherhood, I lose the positives. The laughter, the goodnight kisses, the “mommy I love you”s, the cuddles during an animated movie (which I have an excuse to indulge in). Even the smears and smudges and messes would be missed.
Because it’s the disarray that reminds me that our house is a home, occupied by real people who live and laugh and yes, even argue. There’s clutter and I can’t find anything but is having a clean house really living anyway? I wouldn’t get to play hide and seek every time I need something. And seriously, where’s the challenge in that?
I make that pledge to myself to enjoy this time of utter chaos. It is fleeting and before I know it, I will find myself surrounded by a clean house once again.