I think its really difficult to try and live in the moment when you have children. I often catch myself glancing at my husband across a pan of frozen lasagna and think how awesome it will be one day when the kids are grown and just he and I will be able to date again and focus on our lives. We will go to Paris and Hawaii and sleep in on Saturdays. I will let dishes pile up in the sink and make PJs my official uniform (okay, it already is).
Somedays being a parent is like being stuck in purgatory. You know you had a past, you can't really remember what it was like but at the same time you have no idea what the future holds. It's filled with days of pouring salt into your coffee because someone was playing on the counter and finding crayon has melted all over your dryer because someone had them in pockets. You just know you are ready to move beyond this. You are ready for kids to be able to brush their own teeth, to travel to a grocery store without having to spank your kids in front of total strangers because they are having a melt down for M&Ms but their dentist has already given you a guilt trip about a stain on a back tooth. At this point, humiliation in front of strangers is a fair trade off for having a great dental check up.
These are the days of parenting. It's exhausting and mentally straining. Most days I wish I could walk through my hallway without stepping on a toy and shouting out profanity as I look for the culprit that left Legos all over the floor. Yes, all of this and more are daily routines for parents. It's what we signed up for and it never lets you down. Just when you think your kids have finally learned the meaning of being a good sister, one runs in screaming because they were just hit in the head with a cup by the other. You sigh, you laugh a little, and you think, Lord, are these really my kids?
I had a professor in college whose wife had recently had a baby. And one day, during his lecture he stopped and said that he just needed to share with us the truth of parenthood. Obviously none of us or not many had children at this time. He then went on to say something I will never forget," Having a child is like having your heart leap from your chest then go for a walk in the world." I always thought his words were beautiful but never fully understood their depth until I went though this journey myself. This is exactly what it feels like.
I have learned through trials and tribulations that the best way to keep your sanity and smile through it all is surprises. I love to surprise my kids. I do this so often that when I pick them up from school, they will ask me, in front of judging adults, "Mom, do you have a surprise for us?" I know you think I spoil my kids. But I do not. You are not in my house each day and you don't know our family. What you don't know is that my kids have to keep their rooms clean. They clean them almost everyday and they are punished when they don't clean up. They are learning about life through conversations about stereotyping, friendship and bullies. I explain to them when mommy makes a mistake and how its okay when they make one too.
Their childhood is fleeting.
Each day they are a little older then they were yesterday and I only have so many days, minutes and seconds to prepare them for life and help them believe in magic. The timer started the day they were born. I want them to be strong and independent and not too scared to have a little fun. Reality isn't sweet or kind or forgiving and they have begun learning the rules of life and will continue to do so. So for now, I want to add that magic and spark that will all too soon be gone.
So yes, I do surprise my kids a lot.
I pick them up from school and when I hear that phrase that make me scrunch my face and curl my toes a bit out of the judgment of others and I remember that these days won't last forever.
"Yes, baby," I respond. " I've got your favorite slushes in the car!"
"Yes, sweet girls, I went to the store and picked you each up a new pair of PJs'!"
"Yes my angles, tomorrow is going to be a mommy-daughter day."
They light up in a way that reminds me how much I used to love surprises as a child. They have plenty of time later in life to be dwindled down by the day in and day out. If I can add a little magic and excitement to their childhood today then I will do that. I will lay on the driveway and let them outline my body in chalk then color it in pink because that is their favorite color right now. I will take old planters and turn them into fairy houses to place in the back yard so our fairies in the trees can have a place to live. I will have pancake night and movie night. I will let them play dress up on me and brush my hair because one day they won't be so willing to give me so much of their time. One day they won't say, "Mommy, do you have a surprise for me?" One day they won't ask, "Mommy, will you lay in bed with me?"
One day they will live miles away in some place like Ohio and care about school, and work and vacations with their girlfriends. One day, I won't be woken up at 3am because a little monkey wants to just snuggle and kick me for 3 more hours. One day will happen faster than my heart is prepared for. And one day Jeff and I will finally have time for Paris and Hawaii and late Saturday mornings, but we'll probably just retire in Ohio. Who needs Hawaii anyway?