I am in a season of my life right now where I feel bone tired almost all of the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes burning exhausted. Exhausted to a point I literally live on coffee and cigarettes.
I have 2 girls ages 5 and under. I’m not complaining about that. Well, maybe I am a little bit. Zoe is really sick right now and I am feeling the burn. But I know that there are people who would give anything for a house full of laughter, Duplo blocks, crazy dogs & chaos.
But right now, in my actual life, I have 2 girls. There are many moments where they are utterly delightful, like last week when Khloe offers me advice on how to use bronzer or Zoe just comes up crawls up to me and say carry me mommy with a big smile on her face, favorite wrap in hand.
But there are also many moments like today when I have no idea how I’m going to make it until their bedtime. The constant demands, the needs, and the fighting and constant cleaning spills on the floor are fingernails across the chalkboard- every single day.
One of my children is for sure going to be the next Steve Jobs. I now have immense empathy for his parents. He had a precise vision of what he wants — exactly that way and no other way. Sometimes it’s the way Khloe’s food is not allowed to touch, or how her socks go on, or for Zoe exactly how the tea should be made, not to hot, with a spoonful of sugar and 140ml of it. They are like a laser beams, and is not satisfied until it’s exactly the way they want it.
I have to confess that sometimes the sound of their screaming drives me to hide in the bathroom with Kenzo. (I really feel so sorry for him sometimes!) And I will neither confirm nor deny that while in there, I compulsively eat dark chocolate I hide in a make up bag under the zink. And sit next to my 50kg Doberman on the floor and wait for the storm to pass.
There are people who say this to me:
“You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!”
I usually smile and give some sort of nod, but inside, I secretly want to hold those people under water. Just for a minute or so. Just until they panic a little. And feel the panic I feel on a daily basis.
If you have friends with small children — especially if your children are now teenagers or if they’re grown – please vow to me right now that you will never say this to them. Not because it’s not true, but because it really, really doesn’t help.
I know it’s true that they grow up too fast. But feeling like I have to enjoy every moment doesn’t feel like a gift, it feels like one more thing that is impossible to do, and right now, that list is way too long. Not every moment is enjoyable as a parent; it wasn’t for you, and it isn’t for me. You just have obviously forgotten. I can forgive you for that. But if you tell me to enjoy every moment one more time, I will need to break up with you or maybe break you in two. Choice is yours…
If you are a parent of small children, you know that there are moments of spectacular delight, and you can’t believe you get to be around these little people. But let me be the one who says the following things out loud:
You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out a way for your children to eat as healthy as your friend’s children do. She’s obviously using a bizarre and form of hypnotism or something. Khloe is my healthy eater and Zoe would live on sweet tea if she can. (This drives me insane!)
You are not a terrible parent if you yell at your kids sometimes. You have little dictators living in your house. If someone else talked to you like that, they’d be put in prison or be smacked by you.
You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out how to calmly give them appropriate consequences in real time for every single act of terrorism that they so creatively devise- like Zoe with her constant drawing on my walls.
You are not a terrible parent if you work. In order to give these two girls an education in a private school, countless extra classes and just the best human possible I have too. And in my book I am teaching them other important lessons too. (Will do a post on that one day when I feel more inspired and not stuck with a deadline where I have to do a write up about a ball valve!)
You are not a terrible parent if you just can’t wait for them to go to bed. (All I care about at 20:00 on a Friday is asses in bed and coffee in my mug!)
You are not a terrible parent if the sound of their voices or their constant nagging sometimes makes you want to drink and never stop.
You’re not a terrible parent.
You’re an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we’re failing horribly if we feed our children domino’s pizza and we let them watch TV in the afternoon.
One of the reasons we are so exhausted is that we are oversaturated with information about the kind of parents we should be.
So maybe it’s time to stop reading the blogs that tell you how to raise the next President who knows how to read when she’s three and who cooks, not only eats, her vegetables. Maybe it’s time to embrace being the kind of parent who says sorry when you yell. Who models what it’s like to take time for yourself. Who asks God to help you to be a better version of the person that you actually are, not for more strength to be an ideal parent.
So the next time you see your friends with small children with that foggy and desperate look in their eyes, order them a pizza and send it to their house that night. Volunteer to take their kids for a few hours so they can be alone in their own house and have sex/ conversations or just chill for heaven’s sake. Put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes, and tell them that they’re doing a good job. Just don’t freak out if they start weeping uncontrollably. Most of the time, we feel like we’re botching the whole deal and our kids will turn into horrible criminals who hate us and will never want to be around us when they’re older.
We are all bone tired. I’m not sure when it’s going to get better. Today might be a good day or it might be the day that you lost it in a way that surprised even yourself.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
You’re not alone.