I am married, have four young children and a healthy business. I travel frequently. Between the kids, our jobs, and my travel schedule, our family life can be chaotic. The post below was written at the height of an incredibly stressful day. I was home. The kids were home. My husband was home. The day literally started to unravel the moment that I got out of bed.
Some people are out there trying to sell a perfect life in perfect photos with perfect design, perfect fashion, or perfectly outfitted children to the world. None of that is my life. Instead, it seems to be my calling to throw pitches at reality because you can’t have it all and not eat it all too. Or so my scale would say. So here it is.
Every good mom’s real life wish list.
- I want my children to eat food. They all like different things and nobody has time to make five meals. And when the hungry five year old looses his ish because he has rejected all forms of all food, including his favorites… that noise is enough to make just about any parent loose their ish. Combine that with the nine year old wanting a package of cookies and a cupcake for breakfast, and the two big kids thinking they get to play video games for twelve hours straight… really, folks… this is not the day to measure success against. I gave her the cookies. The five-year-old ate Ramen noodles. Dry. Because he prefers them like that. And the boys are still in front of the tv. But it’s quiet.
- I want my children to clean up their messes. We went to bed with a clean house. Then the nine year old started “crafting” on the living room floor. The noise she made after being told to clean it up is like nails on a chalkboard. Then she didn’t clean it up and the two-year-old found the bag of Sharpies. He used the back of the cream leather couch, several walls, the tv, the carpet, and the decorative table as his canvas. Red sharpie. My living room was tagged by a toddler. Then he tagged himself. Make sure that you keep several bottles of alcohol on hand for situations like this. Not for yourself. For the couch.
- I want my children to want to take a bath and brush their teeth. They do take baths and they do brush their teeth, but right now, none of that happens without great discussion unless they can smell themselves or see the gunk on their teeth. I honestly understand their reluctance to allow hygiene to interrupt their fun, but some things really are both nice and necessary.
- I read books that talk about kids that lay in their bedrooms and read books for quiet time while their mom gets a chance to paint her nails and shave her legs. Please, sweet purveyor of successful quiet time, tell me all of your secrets. All words seem to be loud at my house. All of them. Quiet, even 30 seconds of quiet, doesn’t happen unless they are all finally done protesting bedtime and actually fall asleep.
- I would like my children to care about wearing a coat outside when it’s cold outside. They have coats. They aren’t wearing them. School doesn’t allow coats in the classroom. Rather than lug a coat around and put it in all its proper places at school, they leave it at home. There’s no recess when it’s cold. But they really should wear a coat. Every time they leave without one, at their own insistence, I shudder thinking about what terrible things the teacher must think about me. I tried. Really, I did.
- I would like my children to sleep in their own bed. The littles still want to get in bed with us in the night. This morning, I woke up to being kicked (hard!) in the nose by a horizontal child who didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t moving when his feet wanted the place that my head was occupying on the pillow.
- I want to be able to insta-cook like the hands in those videos you all share to my social feeds. You know why my kids are hollering about breakfast today? The breakfast that I tried to make was a disaster thanks to one of those enticingly perfect recipes. I’m still mad. That recipe should have made me a hero mom. My kids love cinnamon rolls and they love french toast. Making Cinnamon Roll French Toast should equal HERO MOM status. It made a good video, but in reality, it was a disastrous form of breakfast lasagna. To make it worse, when my husband (who is actually a very good cook) saw the mess, he laughed.
Some of us certainly seem to be better than others at containing the chaos. I don’t post more often on Instagram right now because there’s nearly nothing I can take a picture of that shows what I think we might imagine success to be with motherhood. I’m writing this while my husband, who slept in, is in the kitchen re-making everyone breakfast… now “first meal”, the five-year-old is eating chocolate chips, and the nine-year-old is outside without her coat on in her Easter dress.
I love the chaos. I love my kids. I have to embrace the fact that we’re all learning to be better people together. It’s not the end of the world if they grow up and eat cookies or dry ramen noodles for breakfast as adults. They can grow into Pho.
That said, there’s a serenity prayer… and it's prayed often in my house because that's what I want to be. Serene. In my imaginary world, that mom is the ideal mom. Someday, she might be me.
Until then, I remain not-serenely yours,