I don’t have to tell you guys – parenting is hard hard hard work.
A single day can hold so much, can’t it?
There’s the subtle disrespect and the blatant type too. The kid who helps his sister do the chores and the same kid who cries later because his sister won’t share her flashlight. The continual reminding to get their tasks completed and the endless questions about what’s for dinner and why does this have to happen on that day and why can’t that other thing happen instead and where should this go and what do you think we should do with this. The mess that trails and plagues our home every hour on the hour. The clean up and the mess making that is a steady cycle on repeat.
All of this is true.
In one day, sun up to sun down.
Of course there’s the good too. In the same day. Shared laughter over nonsense words. Trivia games at lunch over tomato soup and grilled cheese. Capable kids who do not need my help to ensure their breakfast is served and consumed.
Today we took a little hike at a nearby state park. Satisfied the boys’ longing to throw a fishing line in water. (Which, in turn, dissatisfied the girls’ longing to not watch their brothers fish.) Found an old school merry go round, or as I like to call it, a sick maker. (Or arm breaker. Whichever.)
This new system I’ve attempted to begin of actually having separate bedtimes for the two age ranges here has met with some favor – from the 12 and up crowd, of course. And some strong disfavor from the ten year old. The eight year old hardly has an opinion as he is asleep as his face is heading the direction of the pillow each night anyway. But what it has created amongst the big three has been a fun renewal in their companionship and camaraderie.
They’re playing Spicy Uno with their extra hour. They’re laughing and creating inside jokes. Tonight they baked bread. Yeah – that was poor timing and really too late to begin such an undertaking, but if you’ve ever had three teenagers (well, one is almost a teenager) who wanted to actually do something like bake bread together, you’d sort of be a moron to say no. I even heard London utter a phrase that I wanted to bottle. A sentence I wanted to freeze in time – like write the letters across the air in the kitchen where we were all standing. “I love being homeschooled,” her mouth said. I tried to remain chill. (My inner voice whispering, “Play it cool, Mom. Play. It. Cool.”) And Bergen said, “Yeah, it’s fun.”
I wisely left the room but listened with both my ears and my heart from the next room undetected because that same kid today was a less than eager hiking participant. I guess it’s all both and everything and nothing, isn’t it? Parenting. And life. Teenagers. And grown ups.
We’re still circling around and dancing slow and awkward and just figuring out where to put our feet and just when we hit our groove, well, I guess then is probably exactly when I’ll be shopping for towels for college or decorations for their dorm or a used Craigslist sofa for their new apartment.
And so deep sighs and picking up shoes left on the stairs and hugging tall as me kids good night and singing favorite songs to the baby of us all and making giant pots of spaghetti and inviting extra kids over to watch movies is what I’ll keep doing tomorrow and the next day, until the sofas need buying and the towels need purchasing and the dorm rooms steal their attention.
Parenting. You know it’s not for the weak or the weary, even when it makes us both.