"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the begining of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation or love and trust."
Suzanne Arms

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Yes, Parenting IS Hard!! Why *I* Carpe Diem!!

This blog post from the Huffington Post has been making the rounds on facebook lately.  It is entitled 'Don't Carpe Diem'.  If you haven't read it . . . the author reflects on the comments she receives from older people (and any of us with kids have heard them) telling her how much they loved parenting their little ones, how it was the best time of their lives and that we (parents of younger kids) should enjoy it while it lasts. These comments bug her, make her panicky and stressed out and according to the comments on her post, many agree. So many of my friends have linked to it, everyone seems to love it.  She definitely makes some good points and seeing as how us moms so often relate to each other, the post validates what a lot of us feel day to day.  Parenting IS hard!!  But the post didn't speak to me, in fact I kind of didn't like it (ducks head). And this is no offense to the author or any of my (MANY) friends who loved it and said "Amen" a million times while reading it.  It's cool!  Actually, I agreed with most of what she wrote, I guess I just have a different perspective on the Carpe Diem thing.

So after my 5th stock response to a friend linking to this post (because for some reason I feel this need to give my perspective on, like, everything) I decided to suck it up and just blog about it myself . . . because with 6 kids, ages 10mo to 11yrs, I have SO much time to sit at the computer and blog (and if you look to the right of this page you will see the plethora of blog posts I have found time to write in the past few months . . . though I DO try I swear!!!).

I hear it often, from men and women and I'll admit it . . . I love it when older people tell me to Carpe Diem!!  Of all the comments I get (and I get a lot of comments when I am out with 6 kids) this is my favorite!  They are looking at my crew (and it is a motley crew) with a smile on their face, joy in their eyes, and I can just see them remembering what it was like when their kids were little.

This is the most recent photo of my crew from 2.25.11  it is also one of the few pictures I have of the kids where they are all fully dressed (usually 1-2 of them are butt naked).  Do you see trouble?  HA!  (as if the headless Jack Skellington in Thrace's hand isn't a clue ;0)
The comment usually starts with . . . "your family is beautiful".  At this point I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing I don't have to come up with some witty retort to a rude comment.  And then they tell me how this was their favorite part of parenting, when their kids were little, and how I should enjoy it because it flies by.  I find it really puts things into perspective for me, and not just because my oldest is 11 and I am stumped at how he got so big so fast!

I think . . . are these people blind? They are obviously not seeing that my 2 yr old in the buggy (he is there because he keeps running off hiding in the clothes racks) is taking great joy in throwing all the groceries on the floor (or opening boxes of crackers, pealing bananas etc.) No I don't "let" him do these things, but sometimes, when I look away he does anyway, I mean, he is only 2!!  They don't know that the just turned 5 yr old, who is taunging the 2 yr old, hasn't listened to ONE thing I have told him since we left the house (he is by far my hardest at this point).  They must not see the 7 yr old who for some reason keeps falling on the floor RIGHT in front of peoples buggies (I don't know why he does this, he is just a jokester, and his clothes are filthy because of it too) or the way the older 2 like to stand in the middle of the asile and spin and spin and spin and pay no attention to all the people around them! (in their defense, they only do it when the aisle is empty, but the thing about aisle's is, that eventually, people do walk down them, whether or not you are spinning ;0)  And what is the baby doing?  Well I am wearing him (of course) and he is stuck on my boob because some days, if he isn't nursing in the Kozy he is NOT happy!!(he is actually nursing right this moment, kicking my arm as I am trying to type).

They aren't 'bad' kids (they aren't puppets or robots either) they are just kids . . . normal kids doing 'normal' kid things!  And I think . . . these well meaning people making these positive comments must not have seen how my kids were acting.  And they certainally haven't seen all the faces or negitive looks I have gotten from strangers since leaving the house!!

Or maybe, could it be that they DO see all these things, and they DO remember all these things and they STILL look at me with envy?  Because despite how hard it was for them (and remember, their kids are grown so they have been through it all) in their reflection, they realize how fleeting it is too, and they WISH they would have taken more time to enjoy parenting, ALL aspects of parenting.  These are the same people who often (more often than I would have thought) admit to me that they always wished that they had MORE kids.  "I always wanted more children, but we thought it was best to stop at 2 or 3" etc.  It breaks my heart to think that now, as their childbearing years are long gone, they are confiding in me and envying ME and my motley crew (did I mention how my kids were acting??).  I don't mind their comments, I want to benefit from their experiences and wisdom and the moment they took out of their day to share with me.

I don't get paranoid or annoyed when I hear "Carpe Diem", I get determined!!

You see I am basically a pretty negative person.  I can find anything to complain about, it's easy to find the negative in things.  Just ask my husband. On the days he is gone he will often receive multiple calls from me with stories about either something crazy one of the kids has done or with me near tears because I am about to lose my mind!! (when I get stressed I tend to repeat "I think I am going to lose my mind!!!" over and over)  I want him to KNOW what I am dealing with here while he is out.  Of course he knows, because when he is home he is in the thick of it too, but sometimes, I just like to remind him ya know?  We homeshool, so the kids are home with me 24/7.  I have been nursing for 11 yrs straight (tandem for 9 1/2).  I have nursed kids to sleep for nap and bed EVERYDAY for over 11 yrs straight, so getting them in bed usually takes between 1-2 hrs (this is why we have the horrible TV in the bedroom . . . no judging ;0).  I have no local family and don't leave my babies anyway, so it is rare for dh and I to get out by ourselves (and usually by the time my youngest is ready to be left, I am pregnant again, so we get a few 'dates' alone before I have another baby).  Some nights, we have all 6 kids in our VERY big bed with us! . . . . . This is my life!!  These things may seem overwhelming and like negatives to some people, but I love it and it is what I feel is best for my kids.  However, having kids on you and with you 24/7 means you have very little 'no kid' time and makes it very easy to get overwhelmed (at least that is the excuse I use).

Parenting is hard, especially when you don't get many breaks.  But that is what I signed up for, it is what I wanted and what I was expecting when I decided to have kids (and decided to parent the way I do).  No one has ever told me that it wouldn't be hard, in fact most of the things I hear or have heard from society about having kids are negative . . . they ruin your body (cause prolapse, thinning hair, stretch out your skin and boobs, cause you to gain weight, and well, lets just say makes jumping on a trampoline not the most positive experience) they are very inconvenient to your life and career, they are selfish, they are super expensive and when they get older, they become extremely ungrateful and disrespectful. They multiply, shoot they quadruple your worry,  and you will never, ever sleep soundly again!!

And, yes, some or all of these things may be true.  But to me, it isn't about the negatives, the lack of sleep and frustration, the constant worry, second guessing, and countless hours of research (because I am a research nut). And it isn't JUST about the random peaceful, quiet, calm, sweet baby, tender kisses, book reading moments either (the moments that come infrequently but you would freeze and make them last longer if you could) . . .  It is about the journey!

Bringing these little souls into the world, watching them grow, helping them learn, seeing the people they are becoming . . . yes PEOPLE!!  These beautiful, independent, little people who are the greatest responsibility . . . MY responsibility!  Yes, the thought is overwhelming!  I can get negative quick, I can (and do) complain.  I tell the kids,  "I am only one person, I can't do everything" and I mean it!!  But when I examine my life, and the home and atmosphere I provide for my kids, I don't want it to be negative where I am just struggling to get through the next day, hour or even moment (even if inside, I feel like I am struggling much of the time).  I want the atmosphere to be positive!!  

I believe mothering is a privileged, a most high calling, and I want to act like it is durn it!!  

I want to be a positive example of parenting.  I want the kids (and strangers when we are out for that matter) to see me smile and laugh and handle each obstacle with grace.  A grace that doesn't come naturally to me, but that I long to possess.  I want people to look at me as an example of the best parts of parenting, not all the trials and hardships.  I don't want worthwhile moments to be thrown in here and there. I don't want the moments that I will cherish to be just those easy, peaceful or blissful moments that are too few and far between.  I don't want the positive moments to be fleeting, I want to embrace all of it, to look for the positive in all of it, to learn how to find joy in all of it, and to cherish all of it. 

So for me that sometimes means a change of mindset, a change of perspective.  It means looking for the positive, not after the chaos but the midst of it (which may not always be easy).  It means not just trying to just make it through each moment, but trying to actually enjoy each moment for what it is, another step in my day and my journey through parenting.  That doesn't mean I have to love cleaning poop off the sofa, it doesn't mean I have to love it when the toddler throws a fit and is banging his head on the floor, it doesn't mean I have to love it when there is chocolate sauce on the carpet, the sink or toilet has overflowed for the upteenth time, when kids are (literally) pulling each others hair out, the toddler is dumping cereal on the floor, or (as is usually the case) when all of these things are happening at once.  I may not love these things, but I want to cherish them, to embrace them, to find the positive in all of them and squeeze as much joy out of them as I possibly can!! I strive to live in each moment of life, the good and the bad, and I want to remember it all, because every aspect of parenting, the easy and hard, all shape me and make me the person that I am . . . and I in turn use that to help shape my children!

I am not always successful, the Lord knows (and so do my friends and family) that I need SO much help trying to be more positive.  And that I often fail.  I will never be perfect.  It doesn't mean that I can't or won't sometimes still complain or vent . . . because sometimes we get overwhelmed and just need to get things off our chest.  That is OK, I'll vent for a moment and move on, hopefully with a smile.  And I'll most definitely remind people not to expect too much from me because most days I can't even remember my own name ;0)  But I don't want to look back and regret that I was so caught up in the chaos that I missed some pretty cool stuff!  Sometimes, the chaos can be downright amazing!  And when it isn't, I'll try my hardest not to just 'get through' the next moment, but to Carpe Diem!

So yes, parenting is hard, everyone who has ever been a parent knows there are times when it is hard . . . though I will absolutely take my days here at home with the kids over chopping wood all weekend like dh has been doing lately.  But when I take my eyes off my 18mo old for a second, only to find him on the ROOF (yes, that reads roof . . . like R.O.O.F, the roof of the house). . .  or when my 2 yr old strips naked, like completely butt naked in the aisle at Walmart (yes, they both happened, but if you ask me about them I will deny it ;0), when I have spent an hour cleaning the kitchen (after spending an hour cooking) and then walk into the living room to find it trashed, or when I have heard "mom, I'm hungry" for the 50th time . . . I'll try my hardest to "count it all joy" so that instead of a defeated sigh, I'll smile, or maybe even laugh and say "Thank you God for blessing me with healthy, happy kids with active imaginations and plenty of energy . . . and thank you for grace".

And on the hardest of days, I will remember those older parents who have reminded me to 'carpe diem' and thank them for helping me to keep things in perspective! 

Now to put things into perspective again . . . here are some pictures of what was going on in the house while I was distracted writing this (an example of why I do most of my writing at night, and since I am usually tired, a reason why my blog is just overflowing with posts!! ;0)

I found this on my phone, looks like someone wanted to take some self portraits!!

Yes, that is a knife in the chocolate peanut butter (and yes, he is naked butt)

apparently someone left the art supplies box out and someone else got into it and had some fun (and I spy another little guy on the right without pants on)

Not too bad!! Trust me, it could have been (and often is) MUCH worse!
Overall it was a pretty uneventful couple of hours!
(and the older kids did a great job helping clean up).


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