My kids drive me crazy. Does that make me a bad parent? As I'm going on my fourth baby, it took me years to drive up the courage to say it out loud, but they do... they can drive me mad and the grueling schedule of Mommy duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year can be, well... I need a new word for exhausting.
Haul one load of laundry down the stairs. Empty the basket into the wash. Start the cycle. Fold the laundry in the dryer. Take the empty basket back into the bathroom to find piles of dirty clothes and towels already strewn everywhere, enough for another load ready to go.
Breakfast. Clean up. Snack time. Clean up. Lunch time. Clean up. Dinner time. Clean up. Snack before bed. Clean up. It's safe to say you could stay in the kitchen all day, morning, noon and night, preparing and serving and cleaning up. It's an entire job, all on its own.
I sweep the floors after each meal, and despite doing this multiple times a day, you'd think our floor hasn't been touched in months. It almost makes me gag a bit, at the sight of exactly what I get swept up, again, just hours after it was already done. It almost seems unfathomable.
To be able to find a matching pair of shoes is a true task in itself. The closet designated just for shoes is overflowing to the point that there are days I'm tempted to just throw them all out. Everywhere I go, I'm tripping or swimming past a sea of shoes. Naturally, never with its pair, but a random shoe or sock (OK, who am I kidding... or sippy cup or spoon) mixed in with toys, strewn clothes or random items that need to be tossed or organized.
Dishes. The dishwasher is running. Both sides are beginning to fill up as you see little hands reaching up over the counter to throw another dirty sippy cup or plate in. Nothing is impossible, however, but to ever really be fully caught up on the dishes, just as the laundry goes, is safe to say... impossible.
One baby needs a diaper change, the other toddler is screaming they need to be wiped on the potty, while another is hollering from a different floor in the house that you need to come quick, it's an emergency.
I'm pretty certain we keep our hard-working garbage men in business. I don't know how so much can get accumulated in so little a time. Each of the designated trash cans fill up. Out they go. A new bag goes in as another is ready to be emptied. I wish we could trade in and recycle diapers, tissues and wipies because by this point, I'd easily be a millionaire.
The vacuum gets run through the main rooms daily and this, too, doesn't seem to show or matter as I hear it click and crunch over the carpet's surface and when I empty it, I can't believe I just let my children crawl and play on what was beneath them.
It's comforting to know that if we ever got stranded somewhere, we'd have a full survival pack of... well, just about anything and everything in our vehicle. This is where a lot of the time one of the random missing socks or shoes turn up, the missing sweat shirt that was tucked under the seat for some time and the pacifier that was lodged between the back row. With the constant rushing from work to practices to games to events to appointments, it is a race to and from the car, and whatever is left behind, will more than likely be found within the next couple of months when we find the 10 extra minutes to clean the thing out.
If it's 6:02 a.m. on a Saturday morning and if we're just now hearing noise or tiny feet running to our room, then I guess we should be grateful. Sleep is for the weak, right?
Have to go to the bathroom? When you do finally make it there, just be prepared to have company or, if you are bold enough to lock the door, prepare yourself to have tiny people trying to bang the door down or stick their hands underneath it in the hope that they will be able to reach you.
Some neighbors must think we either have rock concerts or WWE wrestling matches held in our house. Depending upon the time of day or mood of the kids, there could be screaming and all-out battles between our toddlers as they make noises and cries that aren't even mimic-able. Someone is always yelling, "Mommy!" every minute of every hour of every single day. There are days you feel enslaved in your own home as not a second is ever found to be yours.
And then I stop to think...
If I didn't have the never-ending laundry, that means I wouldn't have little arms around my neck to help balance themselves as I put their pants on or would never get those kisses on my nose or the sweetest stares as we are forehead to forehead, even if it is the seventh time I'm redressing them for the day.
If I wasn't tripping over tiny little shoes and picking up mismatched socks, I wouldn't have the precious feet that I hold and kiss and tickle and massage every single day.
If I didn't have dishes to do and meals to serve, I would have a large, empty dining room table that would have nothing more than a boring, lifeless atmosphere without the unpredictable, charming and unfailing livelihood that encompasses it several times each day. Yes, a quiet, cleaner kitchen; however, not one full of memories, no matter how messy they may be.
If I wasn't being woken up before sunrise, I wouldn't have a reason to climb out of bed each morning and clamber on to another day's adventures that await me. The little monkeys that rule, terrorize and run in every other direction are my very reason to carry on.
If I didn't have the constant commotion and noise, the silence would be nearly deafening to me. I remember from such an early age that I yearned for a big family of my own. And with a big family comes big love, big noise and yes, lots of commotion. Commotion that is also filled with an abundant amount of such a genuine joy that nothing else on this earth could equally fill me with.
So... if I didn't need needed, to put it simply... I'd be lost.
Some days, no, correction...every day is an energy-draining, roller coaster of a marathon that I just bravely attempt to keep up with. However, it's one wild, demanding, rewarding ride that I can't picture a day without.
Yes, my kids drive me crazy. It took me so long to be able to bravely say that out loud for fear that it meant I was a terrible mother. But it's the crazy circus full of laughter and love that I've dreamt and prayed for my entire life. These little people are the absolute loves of my life.
So, next time you're ready to pull your hair out, do two things. Remember you are not alone. And sometimes you just have to sit back, laugh and enjoy the hell of a ride that you're on. It will be over before you know it.
Turn the music on, pick a child up and dance, love, laugh and just be in these moments with them. There's nothing that a little love and laughter can't heal or touch.
We don't have to search and create these big, elaborate moments with our children. They're already there. Just recognize them and holding on tight with both hands, ride this ride with them.
Regan Long is a teacher, author, grad student, photographer, columnist, but most importantly, wife and mother to three, soon to be four children under the age of six.
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