I am suppose to write a tidy little snippet about motherhood in honor of Mother's Day this weekend. And sadly, I am a total loss. (Ahem, cough, cough. Rough day.)
There are no pearls of wisdom, no golden gems of insight from which others might glean sage advice. No nothing. I am drawing a perfect blank. I think I might actually have amnesia from all the late nights staying up writing funny statuses about my life with the Fearless Foursome. And right now I can only think in terms of conversational narrative.
Me: "Kids, get in the tub, get in the shower, get off the Ipod, get off the Xbox."
Kids (in unison): "In a minute."
And so, rather than offer insight, what I really need to do is to read up on that very fine topic of motherhood and parenting for my own personal edification/inspiration/motivation. And believe you me, I just might do that, right now. (Checking out Facebook as I type...)
One of the kiddos tonight mentioned something about wishing for a little brother. If you knew our family dynamic (one boy, three girls), you might be able to figure out whom. I can't remember what exactly was said. But I know it was said in the context of wishing for a same-sex sibling with which to share life and stuff. Someone with whom to shoot the breeze. Go down the road to the local fishing hole and do daring things like drink dirty creek water. That kind of stuff. Things you might do if you weren't gender outnumbered and all at home.
When this idea came up, Husband and I both looked at each other and laughed. Hysterically, as we always do when someone suggests we a.) have another child, b.) adopt a puppy or c.) buy a fish d.) or some other crazy harebrained scheme. And I think the comment was made by someone, I won't say by whom, that we might as well just, "put the chains around our necks and drag ourselves to the river," (if this unexpected surprise were ever to transpire).
As in: "We're done. Game over. The goose is cooked. And we both ate it."
And it's not that we don't dearly love the offspring we already have. Au contraire. The fact that I have not run off to the Pacific Islands disguised as a belly dancer already speaks to my undying love. And I do mean that with all my heart. Rather, it's just that we two, Husband and I, know when the Monopoly game is over and when someone has already bought Boardwalk and Park Place, leaving the remaining players penniless and bankrupt. (Read: Hope we can afford cereal for the weekend as we have been consistently going through a box in one setting.)
Forget about date nights. Or other such silly notions. Folks, let's get real. Date-schmate...what is that word exactly? Hubbie and I can't afford having more little Gards around these parts any more than we can afford weekly date nights to the nearby metropolis of Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The Fearless Foursome we already have sleeping under our roof are putting us in the poor-house. Not to mention, pushing their Mama towards the insane asylum.
One of my children suggested tonight, "Let's make a date-night for mom and dad! We can plan a show for them! Whoop, Whoop!" This is the sad truth. Our children have come to believe that mom and dad going on a date means they too, are invited. And that they are allowed to orchestrate the event. (Which was cute about five years ago, but now is just plain SAD.)
So, if I had any suggestions to make for myself -- because I need parenting advice probably more than the next guy -- here is how it would go down.
When on a plane, they always tell you on the in-flight safety instructions to put your own gas mask on before you help the person next to you. And the same advice applies to parenting. Before you kill yourself being a parent, ask yourself this: "Have I brushed my own hair today?" (The answer: My daughter actually brushed my hair FOR me, and ended up getting a ponytail stuck in it, which my son had to weasel out whilst my head was turned upside down. Absolute agony. But I digress.)
And add to the last sentiment, this: Parents, it's okay to tell it like it is. To be tough. To be play the meanie sometimes. Kids will suck you bare, right down to the marrow. They will take you for all you are worth, they will bleed you dry. They will ask and not re-pay. They will grumble and not make apologies. They will tell you that you are nasty. They will tell you that you do not measure up. And they might even once in a while drop the h-a-t-e bomb. So what I am learning in all of this mayhem is that it is okay to be real right back at 'em. To tell it like it is. To call them out. To dish out a bit of their own medicine. To give it right back from whence it came. Kids might as well hear it from you than have a stranger say it in the grocery store or a restaurant. It is my job to hold my own children up to the standards I have set for them.
And above all, find something funny every day from which to see the humorous side of life. If not for hilarity, I should die a miserable woman. Being a mother is not that fun, people. I am sorry. It's just not. And quite frankly, playing house with my dolls back in the day did not prepare me for this.
Those dolls did not talk back. They did not complain about the two articles of clothing they wore day-in and day-out. They ate air... literally. THEY ATE NOTHING. And they never, ever complained. They sat in a closet for 10+ hours at a time. I never heard a peep out of them. And not once did they EVER ask for money. They were the worst example EVER of what having kids would be like. They did not prepare me for what was to come.
And if not for the horrors of babysitting, I would have had absolutely NOTHING to base my good-enough parenting on. Because babysitting taught me zilch if it did not teach me this: Children are often quite dreadful little terrors. Monsters! But at one and the same time, unbelievably cute little monsters. Lucky for them, I can say, "lucky for them." It is one of their few redeeming graces.
In spite of their failings, kids are certainly tremendously funny. And they say things every day that help me remember why I had four of them. And why I teach a class full of them. And volunteer in my spare time to help them to boot. Because living in a house with another adult is not quite the same barrel of laughs that are a house full of quirky, creative kids. Who say the darn-dest things to me and about me each and every day.
Kids: They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me longingly pine for vacays in Florida. And in doing such, they help me remember why I had 'em. And why I fiercely love them so.
Thank their lucky stars for that.