I don't know what the heck I'm doing. And I won't pretend for a moment I've got it all figured out. If you ask me for advice, my answer will probably be just that - "I don't know."
Because here's the truth -
It's hard whether you have one or ten.
It's hard whether you work out of the house or don't.
It's hard whether you send your kids to public school or private school or homeschool.
It's hard whether your baby sleeps through the night or doesn't.
It's hard whether your child is compliant or strong-willed.
It's hard whether you have a struggling learner or your child is so smart they think they're smarter than you.
It's hard whether you are brand new at it or have thirteen years experience.
It's a good hard. It's worth it. Just like working out, you take the sore muscles with the exhilaration of a post-workout high and the promise that it will be worth it. It's worth it. It's so worth it.
It feels like we're inundated with all of this pressure to be perfect and we have the platforms to pretend like we are, but I say just ignore it. Anyone who has an answer for everything in life is lying, either to you or to themselves. No one has it all figured out. And that's okay.
Having children was the best thing that ever happened to me because it helped me realize that things just aren't all about me. Want to learn selflessness? Perseverance? Patience? What it feels like to love someone else unconditionally? A child can teach you those things. And more. (Edited to say: I have obviously not learned these things in totality, but rather have been afforded many opportunities to learn them, thanks to these tiny people. I'm very much a work in progress.)
I waver each day between trying to focus on the good things and being transparent about the bad. My hesitation with sharing the real bits is that someone might mistake the negative aspects of parenting for cons on a list of reasons not to have kids. Those negatives are just circumstantial. They cause temporary unhappiness. They don't steal the joy that is had by having kids.
After securing a very last minute Mother's Day substitute for our Sunday School class (to whom I'm most-definitely indebted), we set out for a spontaneous trip to the beach. You might find it humorous that I use the word spontaneous when it took about 6 hours of furious texting, searching, and packing, but that's the closest it gets with a family of eight. We embarked on the trip way-too-late, and arrived at the hotel after midnight with a crew of six kids that had slept part of the way. We managed to get everyone back to sleep without any major crises by about 1am and determined to wake up and get going to maximize our time at the beach the next day.
At 2am, my sweetest-baby-ever, Hannah, woke up screaming. It was the high-pitched, inconsolable kind of screaming the likes of which can wake up an entire hotel, not only the other guests in the very same room. It was the kind of screaming I had to get under control just to walk her down the hallway outside, so I could, well, get her under control. I'm still not sure why she was crying like that (other than the fact that she was a little off her schedule and out of sorts), but I do know she's the reason I ended up spending most of my night sleeping in the passenger seat of our van. If you don't count the fact that I had an alarmingly real dream about a S.W.A.T. team canvassing the entire parking lot culminating with me sitting bolt upright as a cat plodded across the roof of our van and the slightly embarrassing encounter with a man packing up his vehicle next to me who probably surmised I was either a vagabond or involved in some sort of lovers quarrel, I actually had a pretty good night's rest.
Needless to say, Mother's Day morning didn't go exactly as I imagined it would. But it began with a giant cup or seven of coffee. (As all good days should.)
Later in the day, after the hours worth of sunblock application on eight people of varying sizes had certainly worn off and two tiny people were hours late for their naps, we decided to head back to the hotel for a little rest. Unbeknownst to me, our nearly-potty-trained two-year-old, had left more than a small "present" for me in his swimming trunks, just as we arrived at our van from the beach. A full pack of wipes later, and he was deemed "clean enough" to ride in his seat back to the hotel.
These are the things, in my rookie-mom-dom, that would have ruined my day.
"Figures. Little twerps probably planned it. Don't they know this is my ONE SPECIAL DAY!!? Classic - no sleep and a pooptastrophe."
What it's taken me 13 years to realize is that, these things are hardly real trials. They're just life. It's what they do. It's what I do. And it's what I did to my mom and what she did for me. It's what every mom in the history of the world has dealt with. These things are not new or planned or coordinated by tiny conspirators. Sometimes, having kids is hard. But at the same time, it's a good hard. Know what I'll remember about that Mother's Day trip?
I'll remember a husband and father who made the trip possible. A four year old who wasn't afraid. A two year old who played so hard we couldn't wake him up for dinner. A pair of sisters/best friends who must've ridden 500 waves on boogie boards. A pair of brothers who swam together. A baby who wouldn't stop smiling (you know except for that whole screaming incident).
The good stuff. I'll remember the good stuff.
Relish the good. I dare you. There's so very much of it.