Now that I’ve thrown rainbow and sunshine all over this screen, I’ll be the first to admit that this parenting gig isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Can I get an “amen” from the choir? It’s demanding, exhausting, never ending. There are no such things as “mental health days” from being a mom or dad. You can pretend those days exist but even when not in the immediate presence of your children you are still a parent first and foremost. I spend upwards of eight hours a day away from my girls five days a week and if you think the physical distance between them and me keeps me from thinking about them at least every thirty minutes you’re smoking some of the good stuff.
When I look back at life so far with our daughters there are so many things that I will miss: rocking them to sleep, little baby giggles, their sweet newborn smell, those gummy smiles, their two nap a day habit, and adorable baby leg rolls. These are things I didn’t appreciate nearly enough at the time and am sad to know I’ll never get back. Life goes on, new favorite moments take place, and I’m left daydreaming about days gone by. As nostalgic as I can get, though, the other evening after a rather mundane day I started thinking about all the things I’m not going to particularly miss about life with young children. Care to hear about them? Well, here we go.
- Stain removal. I am not going to miss the stress of finding and pre-treating all stains in clothing obtained after a rough day of play in the grass/dirt or following a particularly messy meal. I long for the day that I can fold a load of the girls’ clean laundry and not find now permanent remnants of spaghetti sauce on a shirt that has been worn only once.
- Waking up to a long, drawn out, sing-songy announcement of “I’M DUH-UN” after using the potty first thing in the morning. Yes, that’s lovely. Why you feel the need to shout this in a completely quiet and serene house at 6:30 in the morning but at no other time during the day I will never understand.
- Wiping butts and noses belonging to anyone other than myself. I think this one speaks for itself.
- In keeping with the apparent bathroom theme I have going, plunging toilets after excessive use of toilet paper. This holds true especially when the excessive use is not caught in time, the culprit attempts an immediate second flush and water overflows onto the bathroom floor.
- Giving baths. I didn’t mind this task when the girls were babies and have really only in the last year come to dread bath time. Maybe when I’m a few years removed from the task I will miss it. For now though I look forward to the days of being able to instruct the girls “Go take a bath” and it is done. The cleanliness of my bathroom may suffer, but it will be well worth it.
- Early morning risers on the weekends. Surely our girls will outgrow this habit, right? They are the children of two people known for their abilities to sleep-in so it has to happen. I’m crossing my fingers that someday I’ll be as annoyed that our girls are sleeping in past noon as I am now when they wake up at the first sun of sunshine.
- Hourly requests for snacks. We’re talking on the hour, every hour. They eat solid meals and are not allowed to graze during the day. But something in their systems requires them to ask for a snack at least twelve times a day. Literally, they can have a snack at the sitter’s when Shortcake gets off the bus at 3 pm and within seconds of walking into our house sometime after 4 pm I will hear one, or more often both, ask “Can I have a snack?” (or if they are feeling particularly accusatory that day, “Where’s my snack?!"). I'm a snacker too, so they come by it honestly, but at least I don't hound someone to get it for me!
- Stressful meal times. One of my number one goals when we set off on this journey called parenthood was that we would eat together as a family at supper time. Both The General and I grew up in households where we sat and ate together at the kitchen table. It was some of the most important times for our family to connect especially when life got busy with practices, late night meetings, games, and other after school/evening obligations. I will freely admit that some days I’m ready to scrap the whole idea all together. At this stage of our lives, meal time can become downright painful. Shortcake is the slowest eater known to mankind (rivaled only by her cousins Diesel and Elizabeth Taylor) and becomes whiny and feigns exhaustion when the meal does not appeal to her delicate senses. Punkin will eat almost anything but she is easily distracted and finds sitting on her butt or on her knees for any length of time a form of torture. The two of them are also very chatty, and Punkin believes the dinner table is the perfect platform for showcasing her latest musical talents. The day we make it through a meal without the use of a mid-meal bathroom break, whining, or constant
threatsprompts of “Keep eating,” “Sit down,” “No more talking,” or “Stop putting your fingers in your milk” will be a happy day.
- Dora. We’ve mostly moved on to bigger and better programming, but for the time being Dora still has a place in our home. There was a time a couple of years ago where her presence in our household was intense and a bit intimidating. Now I just cringe every time I hear her voice. While home with the girls last week during Shortcake’s illness I was subjected to an entire 30 minute episode while I was ironing and the girls were vegging. It took all my strength not to scream at the TV, “We get it! Troll Bridge! Mountain! Boot’s House! ENOUGH WITH THE REPETITION, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!”. I needed a Wonder Pets intervention something fierce that day. (My rage issues with daytime children's programming will be addressed at a later time. It obviously requires a post all its own.)
- Taking people to the bathroom in public places. Thanks to school, I am now able to send Shortcake into a stall on her own to handle her business when nature calls while we’re out and about. I still go with her and stand outside the door of course, but at least we don’t have to squeeze both of us (or all three of us) in to the tiny space of a public bathroom stall. Punkin on the other hand can not be trusted on her own. More than helping the girl's go potty it’s the “Yes, I see you’re right in the middle of grocery shopping in a location directly opposite the bathroom and I know I insisted that I did not need to go and then refused to even try to use the potty before leaving when you asked me to go potty before we left but guess what? I have to go potty and no I can not hold it” that kills me. How old do they have to be before I can tell them to just to go to the bathroom (and take your sister with you) and then have them meet me in the cereal aisle when they're done?
- Precarious walks through parking lots. Some day I’ll be able to walk with my children through a parking lot without an overwhelming fear that they are going to be struck by a car, right? Please tell me it’s true because I really can’t wait for that day to get here.
- “I want that”. With every advertisement targeted toward girls ages 18 months to 12 years and at every checkout lane every built. I get it. You’re greedy. The answer is still no.
- Packing lunches. I hated packing my lunch when I was in school, and my evil mother refused to do it for me starting sometime during my junior high years. The only time she would break down and make my lunch for me was when I was a sobbing heap of hormonal imbalance teetering on the edge of hysteria due to a big project gone wrong (malfunctioning printers and science papers were a HUGE trigger for such scenes) or if I had returned home late, hungry and exhausted, from a track meet with homework yet to complete before I could go to bed. Maybe that’s where my residual dislike of lunch packing comes from. Now, as I face years of lunch packing ahead of me, I can no longer repress my hatred for this task. I realize it’s one of the world’s easiest things to do but still I hate doing it. I am very, very lucky that Shortcake eats hot lunches at school an average of three to four days a week keeping my lunch packing to a minimum. Fingers crossed the same holds true when Punkin starts school in less than two years. Even still, the countdown is on until they can start packing their own damn lunches. And I swear on all that’s holy, mom, if you give me the same kind of flack for making them pack their lunches as you did when I “forced” Shortcake to eat a bit of meatloaf before having a slice of cheesecake last month you better start running. Hell hath no fury…
I fully realize that in fifteen or twenty years I'll be sitting around an empty house longing for these days. I'll be wishing I could hold their hands while walking through a parking lot. I'd probably be willing to give just about anything to have them both home for dinner no matter how crazy that meal may get and I'd give even more to once again wake up to their beautiful faces first thing each and every morning. The grass is always greener, yada yada yada. What I really need is a rewind button for this game we call life so when I start feeling nostalgic for these things that now drive me batty I can relive it more than just in my memories (or nightmares, which ever the case may be DORA).