I saw a mommy’s Instagram post yesterday of her little boy with a caption something like “I’m going to take this picture and write on the back all the silly things you did today so that one day when you’re grown, I can remember how much fun we had on our boring, average days when you were three.” It made me sad. Sad because a lot of the time I am so busy worrying about all the things that need to be done in life- the laundry and the doctor’s appointments, the finances and the dishes that I don’t take the time to appreciate all the silly, wonderful, original, precious things my kids do. In fact, I find their silliness an annoying obstacle to getting anything done a lot of days. I feel bad. It won’t be long before I’m no longer my kids’ favorite playmate, before the dreaded adolescent years hit and they downright hate me, heck before they’re out of the house and onto having families of their own. And I will look back on these days with fond longing- longing for how simple it used to be, how playful they were, how imaginative and for how much I missed.
I have always, always, always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I remember being a young teenager and telling my friends that my life’s goal was to be a soccer mom. My kids don’t play soccer yet, but I feel like that dream has come true. But it doesn’t feel like I dreamed it would. It’s hard. The hours are long, you never get a break, you give a lot of yourself up, you work for a thankless boss who is never satisfied, who has unlimited energy and unlimited wants and instead of being paid lots of money, you make crap- you drive a crappy minivan, you don’t get a chance to shower most days let alone wear anything without food or finger paint all over it and when you do get a vacation, your bosses go with you and you have to go where they want. Let me say it again, it’s hard. I say a lot that it is exactly what everyone always says- being a parent is both the hardest and the most rewarding job you’ll ever have. I have never had a more difficult job, but I have never had one I cared more about either. Because although we don’t get money, we get hugs. We get the occasional “you’re the best mom ever,” we get smiles, we get to be there and to see how happy our little humans are. It’s worth it, it really, really is, but I do sometimes lose sight of that.
My daughter is four going on fourteen. She is sassy, she is opinionated, she is controlling. She is me and I hate it! Because I want to be in control and I don’t want someone who can’t even see the steering wheel telling me how to drive the car or what songs I can or cannot sing or how to sing them. I don’t want to have to tell a little person exactly what I am doing every second of every day or have her sitting at my feet while I take a shit. After reading that Instagram post last night, I started missing my daughter in her sleep. I was excited to see her today and was determined to be as present as possible, to enjoy every minute, to keep that image in my head and to have so much fun today. Well, that lasted about an hour after she woke up. One stinking hour later and I was annoyed with her, I was hurrying her along, I was nagging her, I was using my mean mommy voice. I kept reminding myself of that post, but I just wasn’t enjoying our time as much as I wanted to. I was looking forward to nap time. I feel like I failed.
Maybe I’m just not playful enough to be the mother of little kids. I’m not very good a imaginary play. I watch my own mother with my daughter and they put on costumes, assume made up personalities, talk in accents for hours. I get bored with this after minutes and I can’t think of what these imaginary characters would be saying or doing. I want to do a craft, bake some cookies or go for a walk. My daughter is incredibly high energy and very, very silly. I have a hard time with this. I like to read, I need quiet time, I need alone time. She literally cries when I ask her to play by herself and although she loves books, she cannot read them yet. I love her, I really, really, achingly, with every fiber of my being, love the shit out of her. I do. And I want to be the mother she needs me to be. But maybe I’m not and that makes me so sad.
So it was no coincidence that a friend sent me the video above today. It made me feel a little better. Because we have literally had that day- the day where I felt like I was failing at every turn, where I was sure to have scarred my children for life, only to have Emma tell me at bedtime that it was “the best day ever.” Because that’s what that silliness and imagination are evidence of in my child- happiness. She is a glass is half full kind of person. Give her the shittiest set of circumstances and she will literally find the one fun thing in the mix to tell you about. And when she is all grown up, she’s not going to remember a mom who had a clean house all the time, whose laundry was never piled up (cuz my pile is super big right now!) and who balanced her checkbook to the penny. She’s going to remember if her mom was there for her when she needed her- if they laughed together, when they cried together and that they were together all those times. So the best I can do today is to not sweat the small stuff, to know that I am literally doing the best I can and that most days that is enough. And to hold my babies tight, for they will never be this little again.