This is an image of a peaceful evening that soothes me after a long day of “dynamically balancing” my role as a parent.
Tips for reading this article: A healthy dose of sarcasm or the ability to perceive sarcasm from a parental point of view. To learn more about sarcasm, please refer to: Pinky and The Brain by Warner Brothers (You can Google this and see a video.)
Raising 3 very active, precocious children takes a lot of patience, time, and both physical and emotional energy. Some days, it feels like it’s just not enough. That “balance” I seek is often hard to maintain. It’s not always going to work out perfectly – the clean house, the content children who find plenty to keep themselves occupied, the time for writing that is actually therapeutic, the countless appointments that help maintain my family’s health and well being – it’s endless. And it’s very imperfect! Learning to accept the limitations as well as the possibilities keeps us in an ever shifting series of negotiations. I have a few things working against me that I endeavor to keep in check. Anything sound familiar?
My List of Ten
- My desire for keeping to a schedule and accomplishing my list of expectations/tasks. Daily adjustments have to be made, and I have learned to let go of some things in order to calm the voice that lies to me, “You’re not doing enough”.
- My first born child personality that seeks perfection and does not allow much room for mistakes. (Although this is improving each day I allow the dishes to remain in the sink waiting for someone to load the dishwasher.)
- The expectation that I can be an effective parent 100% of the time since I waited so damned long to have my own children. (I worked for years in the field of early childhood development and knew it would be hard.) But my children are truly individuals from another planet. The techniques that worked well for other children and families are trampled upon by my troop of “Type-A” personality offspring. They each want to be the alpha dog, the only child, the leader of our group. Love and Logic Parenting? Bite Me!
- I have some PTSD issues that make it challenging to deal with sudden and loud noises (shattered dishes, slammed doors, screams of agony suggesting impending disaster resulting from intense sibling rivalries, etc…). Or are those PTSD issues the result of becoming a parent? The mystery is yet to be solved.
- I absolutely have no idea what it means to be bored and can therefore have little empathy for children who express such sentiments. For God’s sake…What I’d do for a moment of boredom, just to experience the level of angst that occurs when my dear children complain of this dilemma. I’m sure the resulting creative muse would inspire me toward great works of literary genius!
- I function best when my environment is organized, free of cookie crumbs on the carpet or sticky gunk on the kitchen floor. I crave minimalism and want everyone to put things back where they belong. Don’t ask me, “Mom, where’s my (fill in the blank)?” Everything has a place, and there’s a reason for that! Hilarious that you ask me when I can’t remember where I put your toy from three years ago for a “time out”.
- I have yet to understand why I find socks under the couch, a trail of clothing from the front door to the bathroom, and unmatched shoes in the kitchen cabinets. It’s like Hansel and Frickin’ Gretel in our house! I don’t need a trail of bread crumbs to find you! It’s a two bedroom apartment!
- I need a moment of peace. Why is it that you can be involved in an activity, but as soon as I need to go to the bathroom, watch my show “The Talk”, or work on my writing projects, you pick that moment to find me and call me out of my name? What, dear children, do you think I’m doing in the bathroom with the door closed? Do you envision a secret door that opens where I go to party, eat pizza, and drink limitless cups of caffeinated drinks? Even my husband has knocked on the door and asked, “What are you doing in there?” Um…I’m writing the next great American novel. No…even more mysterious, that’s where I go to converse with my sancho. Seriously, I need some alone time before my brain turns to applesauce and I go nuckin’ futz.
- I have a deep sense of having to be the responsible one. Even if there is another adult in the house (which is rare, because I pretty much have to parent these three alone). I end up being the one to set the tone, smooth ruffled feathers, establish boundaries and rules, and prevent everyone from succumbing to general mahem. Frickin’ exhausting. Even if I wanted to cut loose and swig a margarita once in a while, there’s zero opportunity for that to occur.
- For the life of me, I can never figure out why I have to match my children’s weirdness level to make them understand how close to the zoo I can drive. One day, in desperation, I sat in the kitchen facing the wall. I opened the fridge, grabbed a bottle of ketchup, and emptied that sucker on the floor while exhibiting a blank stare. All three of my children stopped their madness, came closer, and stared at what I was doing. Finally, they said, “Are you all right mom?” It was an opportunity to talk to them about how behaviors can affect others. We ended up laughing, but not until I could see that they got my point. Everyone reaches their limit before something has to go down. On the floor. In a puddle of red condiment.
So as I sit here in near silence, with only the gurgle of the fish tank in the background, I realize that two out of three children are actually asleep. It is, after all, 1:30 A.M. The oldest child is watching a movie in her room. Seems that insomnia may be hereditary after all. Yet I am grateful for this opportunity to “Ketchup” on my writing and breathe through the complicated musings of a stressed parent. (Who is a little less stressed than when she started this post.) Hope this inspires you as you find your own way to balance; the ever changing adventures await you in the world of parenting.