Being a parent is hard work, y’all. Hard work. I can’t think of one thing – other than the actual loving them part – that is effortless and easy. My husband and I have been doing this parenting thing now for over 12 years, and we still don’t have a clue what we are doing half the time (and by half, I obviously mean 99.9% of the time…I do bad math).
That’s why it’s funny to me when people ask me how we do it. How do I always look put together? How is our house always clean? How are the kids so well-behaved? How come we make it look so easy? How do we find time for one another?
We aren’t trying to make anything look easy. Some things are easy. Doing my hair and makeup and putting together an outfit that makes me feel pretty and confident is easy. Finding time for a date night is easy. Keeping the house clean is easy.
Lying awake in bed at night wondering if all the good memories are enough to make the kids forget that I yelled at them? That’s not easy. Fearing something terrible has happened every single time they’re at school or with their grandparents and the person caring for them calls? That’s not easy. Wondering if they really do know just how much I love them or if they just think I say that 100 times a day out of habit? That’s not easy. Wondering if we are giving them too much or teaching them enough or instilling a love of learning and knowledge and kindness with just enough sarcasm and wit to make them funny and relatable? That’s not easy.
So much of being a parent is not easy; most of it, honestly. We don’t know if we are doing it right. In fact, we question ourselves regularly, but we feel pretty confident (most days) that we are all right. A short story before I get to the point of today’s post: We took the kids out of virtual school and enrolled them in brick and mortar last week. Not just back to their old school, either. We enrolled them in a brand-new school. They’re the new kids a month into the school year; that’s not easy. For us or for them.
your greatest contribution to the universe may not be something you do, but someone you raisesomeone wise
Fortunately, Carter and Charlotte are in the same class, and Charlotte’s best friend is in their class because her mom works for the school, as does another close friend of ours, and Carter’s little bestie is also in their class and was able to start school the same day. Ava’s best friend started as the new girl there on the first day of school, and they are also in the same class. So, there are some things about their new kid situation that are easy – and no, the good fortune we have to say those things is not lost on me.
We made it through four weeks of virtual school. I say that very, very loosely. We struggled. I cried more than once every single day of virtual school. I’m not a teacher; I can’t teach my kids. I don’t know how to help them learn and retain information and make things fun. I also don’t have the kind of time it requires of us to spend sitting down with them throughout the day to learn these things. I just don’t.
I went to bed at night sad and frustrated and in tears because I spent all day snapping at the kids. I had my own deadlines, and then hours of work with them, and my husband couldn’t help much during the day. He has hours. He’s home with me working, but he has to actually sit down for specific hours throughout the day and work. I don’t. I can make my own hours.
He wanted to help, but that means from 5 pm on. That means we aren’t cooking dinner together. It means everyone takes late baths and goes to bed late, and it’s not quality time. No family walks or ice cream dates or impromptu basketball games or cards or Yahtzee games. It was all work, work, work. He begged me to help, but I didn’t want to. I’d rather suffer personally and make myself insane all day long so that he when is done with work for the day, we can have some quality time as a family.
We are so busy, and that’s something that I know my kids will remember. You know what I remember? I remember how much my dad worked when I was growing up. I remember we barely had any time with him. I remember wishing he could come to more of my games or be home to play games or spend time with us on movie night, or anything. Craig? His dad didn’t even live in the same state (or country for a time) when he was growing up. His dad worked and lived in California, North Carolina, Saudi Arabia…and his mom lived with him at their Florida home so that he could go to the same school and have the same friends and play sports and all those things instead of moving around all his life.
You know what he remembers? He remembers wishing his dad was home to go to his games and to be with them, to go to dinner with them or to hang out with him and his friends and play ball with them. Neither one of us wants to miss out on the quality time that we are so fortunate to have.
So, I’d lay down at night and feel guilty because I want help, but I can’t accept help because my family’s quality time is more important than my own sanity. Such a mom thing to say, right? I don’t know if I’m explaining myself well, but I know that it wasn’t what we wanted. To get to the point – when I emailed the kids’ virtual teachers to tell them that we were taking them back to school, the twins’ teacher was so gracious (so was Ava’s, of course). She said, “This entire time I thought you were just breezing right through this with no issues, and I had no idea. You made it look so effortless and easy,” and that stuck with me.
live so that when your children think of love, truth, and integrity, they think of yousomeone wise
I didn’t ask for help. I will never ask for help. Their work was all turned in on time. Their work was thoughtful and done well and correctly, and everything was done on time, turned in, and I didn’t email her with excuses or with questions or with problems. Here she was thinking it was easy breezy when, in fact, I cried every single night and often throughout the day for weeks.
And that’s what makes me feel compelled to write this post. I don’t care how I – or we – make it look. It’s not easy. Being a parent is hard, but I’ve learned a few things over the years about being one, and sometimes it helps to remember.
Kids Don’t Need Much
time is non-refundable, use it with intentionunknown
Trust me. We’ve spent eleventy billion dollars on elaborate vacations and trips and beautiful toys and games and theme park tickets and meals and everything in between. You know what our kids love the most about life? When we get in the pool with them. Yeah, that’s right. When we get into the pool with our kids, that is their favorite thing in the world. They really don’t need much. They just need us.
There’s A Simple Way to Know if You’re Showing Enough Love
let motherhood be more about what you do with your children instead of what you do for themmamie l. pack
It never occurred to me until someone recently mentioned how darling they think it is that the kids are so freely open and able to say, “Mommy, daddy, I love you,” without any thought or without being prompted or without it being a goodbye, see you later kind of thing. I never noticed it. But, they do. Our son is especially sweet about it. He will randomly just come up to us and tell us he loves us. Saturday, in fact, he was playing outside with daddy when he ran into the house and yelled over his shoulder, “I’ll be right back, daddy! I just want to tell mommy I love her so much!” as he popped his head in the door, yelled to me he loves me, and ran back out. I think that’s a great way of knowing if you’re showing them enough love and affection.
They Don’t Miss You…(they do miss you)
the greatest legacy we can leave our children is happy memoriessomeone wise
When we travel without our kids, they don’t miss us…except they do miss us. They are just so excited to have some time with their grandparents that they don’t really miss us that much. They love that time spent with their loved ones, and they are so excited about it. They don’t cry when we leave. They don’t cry when we talk to them. They miss us, but they’re so confident in our love for them and the love their grandparents have for them that they really don’t miss us.
Their Confidence is Inspiring
happiness is not a goal. it’s a by-product of a life well livedeleanor roosevelt
When I grow up, I want to be my own kids. I want to be a part of each one of them.
I want to be as wise and independent as Ava. She is quiet. She observes. She listens. She is wise beyond her years, and I aspire to be as wise as she is at the tender age of 9. She needs no one, but she chooses to be with them.
I long to be as curious as Carter. He asks a million questions a day (ask anyone who knows him and they’ll tell you I’m not exaggerating). He wants to know every single thing there is to know, and there is no limit to his desire to learn.
I want to be as kind and graceful as Addison. She has more class at 12 than anyone else I know in the world save for my own grandmother. Lovely. The word I’d use to describe her is simply lovely. She’s always kind, she always helps, she always has a soft heart, and she’s always so gracious.
I would love to be as confident as Charlotte. She might only be 6, but she never worries that things will not go exactly her way. She walks into a classroom as the new student on the first day of school and automatically assumes that everyone will end the day as her new friend. She doesn’t lack confidence in anything. She naturally assumes everyone loves her, that she looks like a superstar, that she has the best personality, and that she is overall amazing. It has never occurred her to otherwise. I love that, and I hope that never changes.
What does this all mean?
embrace uncertainty. some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much latersomeone wise
To me, this means that we must be doing something right. Nothing in life worth having is easy, but that doesn’t mean we are messing it up as much as we like to torture ourselves imagining. Can we really be failing that much at being parents if our kids are confident and happy and filled with grace and curiosity and independence and intelligence? No.
So, while we all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and while some things might appear easier than others, we are all just hanging out in life wondering if we are fucking our kids up or if we suck at something or if we are really shitty parents at times. You’re not alone. We are not alone. If ever I’m making something look so easy that it’s bringing you anything other than joy or laughter, let me know. I’ll happily share some behind-the-scenes realities for you that will have you feeling like writing your parent of the year acceptance speech right away, or else I’ll share something I’ve learned along the way that might just make something easier for you.
I want to see everyone win. I like winning.