“Hi, my name is Mommy and I’m dead tired. I have ten kids, all under the age of five and I think they all learned to run by the age of seven months. They’ve been chasing me ever since.”
Daniel pipes up with his tale of parenting his sixteen year old daughter, stating that the day she got her lisence is the last day he’s seen the family car – or his daughter.
If there were such a thing as Parents Anonymous, you can make a sure fire bet that it would be full each session. Why? Parents need support. They need to mark the calendar each night to see that yes, they made it through another day. They need encouragement when little Jr. uses all of the toilet paper to make roadways for his Hot Wheels.
Mommy, who's forgotten that her real name is Martha has stepped into a good place – where she will receive the encouragement to keep on keeping on, even if she’s being outrun by ten crazy kids. Daniel may need a private detective to track down his car because he knows if they find his car, they will find his daughter, too.
Both situations are hypothetical and yet, are they? Parenting can be exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I remember when my kids were all under eight and I asked a friend. “Does this ever get easier?” I slightly heard her answer as I reached out to grab one of the wee ones from going into the street.
“Well,” she almost seemed afraid to answer. “It gets different.”
She was right. We went from physically running after those three little toe-headed kids to mentally fretting over them. Was it worth the twenty-five years we’ve invested in them? No hesitation. Of course.
The midnight runs to the ER for earaches that wouldn’t stop. Opening the front door to see your five-year-old riding down the thirteen feet of banister rail to the cement below unscathed. Helping your eight-year-old daughter pack and make sure she has enough peanut butter when she decides to run away from home. Watching home videos of your sporty son break his arm while snowboarding on a sheet of ice or jumping off the neighbor’s roof and onto the trampoline below. It was all worth it.
Ah yes, memories. The kind that at first may seen horrendous but within months, you can’t recount the stories without laughing.
No one said parenting is easy. It’s hard work and you never get it one hundred percent correct every time. However, you try and you keep at it and the pay off is priceless.
How do you keep your perspective when things seem so tough? You have to have a sense of humor. When Jr. #2 defies your insistence of not chewing on the dog toys, it’s hard not to laugh when his little smile turns up and indirectly his face says, “Who, me?”
When the kids are bickering, consider locking them all in the bathroom at once and tell them they are to scrub it and not to come out until it shines. That provides close quarters for unity and bonding. It sure worked for my neighbor and they have one of the greatest families I know. Be creative when it comes to parenting. What works for one child will most likely not work for the other.
One mom I knew told her kids when they would bicker with each other, to take a walk around the block and keep going around until they could return as friends or at least until the bickering had ceased. Of course, you don’t want to encourage this method if it’s not a safe neighborhood.
Your kids will soon begin to grow from the toddler stages and into elementary and middle schools where they will learn to make potato guns and fling the starchy beasts over the neighborhood rooftops. Perhaps they will even return home one afternoon at the wee age of eight, in the back seat of a patrol car for flinging baby carrots over their best friend’s fence at cars passing by, pretending they are in the army, blowing up the enemy.
They proceed to continue to get older, into the teenage years, learning to drive, go to the prom and find their first true love. Does parenting get easier? No. It gets different. The key to keeping your sanity and finding the lighter side so you make it across the finish line, is to smile. Smile, throw carrots with your kids (not at cars – one may end up being a police car), sit up in their tree house and count the stars at night, and when they’re all huddled in the bathroom working through their disagreements, close your eyes and thank God. The next blink and they’ll be gone.