I've had a rather long week and a half with 2/3 girls plus myself getting a lovely virus, fever included. It was no stomach bug, but everyone felt pretty crappy... and having a child with a 103 degree fever lying on top of you all.night.long can be compared to bathing in hot coals. But I have been wondering something lately. This isn't meant to be a rhetorical question, or a silly one. How does everyone do it? No, but really. How? How do you get through the grind of each day? The often monotonous, yet exhausting, endless stream of chaos? Making lunches, driving carpool, eternal laundry, dishes that don't do themselves, activity sign-ups (on time, no less), birthdays, cleaning, forms from school, dinners, grocery shopping, 87 homemade Valentine's for everyone in the 3rd grade, keeping your kids in hole-less clothing in the appropriate size. doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, school parties, play dates, homework, buying shoes that fit before the correct season so you aren't frantically ordering snow boots on Amazon Prime while your poor child wears rain boots with plastic bags and 18 pairs of socks in three feet of snow (sorry Summer), volunteering, school projects, clean sheets, green pancakes on St. Patrick's Day, the logistics of multiple children in multiple sports on multiple days at multiple times. Let's not add in the whining and fighting and drama and feelings. Stick a fork in me if someone gets the stomach bug.
I read a book recently. It actually wasn't recently, it was like the end of summer four years ago. The fact that I am still thinking about it should be telling. And also I'm pretty sure that everyone has read it by now... The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. It hooked me from page one, but turned into something so utterly different than I would have ever expected. I won't spoil anything, but the feeling that it left me with was the thoughtful consideration and questioning of every small and large decision I have ever made and will make in my life. Every decision you make has some sort of consequence, big or small. The notion that decisions and judgements you make every day can completely change the course of your life, and specifically your children's lives... I mean, so deep and stressful, am I right? Also though, when did life get so complicated? Do you ever feel like you are just screwing up your kids? Just absolutely, 100%, hands-down botching things? I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing or what is the right thing- multiply that times three different children with three different personalities and endless different needs, and thinking about the fact that what I decide for them now could actually affect their entire lives-- it is just a recipe for disaster.
I also know that in addition to questioning decisions on a daily basis, I do view certain things in a different way than others. Prior to the age of 18, my life was pretty much rainbows and butterflies and rose-colored glasses. I came from a childhood that was extremely free and innocent. I would leave in the morning to meet my friends; we would go play at the creek for hours, building forts, getting dirty, wandering. When it started getting dark, we would go home. If I was heading up my driveway and the dining room light was on, that was bad news and I knew I was late for dinner and epic stern looks were coming my way. Hours on end, no cell phones, no knowledge if I was ever coming back. That was the life and freedom I knew... it was phenomenal. And it is something I can't provide for my children. #yetanotherfailure. When I lost my dad, I lost that innocence along with him. I lost my safety net in life. I lost the idea that "bad things only happen to other people." I know terrible and tragic things can happen to anyone at anytime because it happened to me. The glass ceiling was shattered. It is a club you never want to get into but once you're in, it is eternal membership. That kindred spirit of "Yeah. I know." My heart actually hurts when I see others going through things, because it just has the tendency to take me back to the worst time in my life. I have to be careful how much I invest myself in tragedies because I can easily let it swallow me up.
So where am I headed with this depressing, abysmal story?? Back to screwing up my kids, that's where. I start to get stressed with all of these decisions we have to make for/with them and if they are the right ones, particularly in the midst of the busy, complicated life that everyone seems to have now. Do you know the one massive positive I have in the middle of all of this? My person. Matt knows how to calm me, how to encourage me, how to get me a martini if I need it, how to let me be if that's what's best. He is my far superior half whom I really, truly, would drown in this madness without. He brings me back to earth and helps me know that we are doing our best and we have happy, healthy, (mostly) good children.
So how does everyone do it? I'd love some hints. Like those Nintendo cheat codes that were everything in the 90's. An "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start" could be pretty freaking helpful at the moment I have to turn the car around for the 3rd time on the way to dive practice to get the bathing suit we forgot at the house (mid-the act of pouring the last drops of children's motrin for one, but post-having to locate another who forgot she was not supposed to be on the bus as I was sitting in the carpool line). I realize we are all so hard on ourselves which is honestly a big part of the problem. You may be able to tell, but I'm kind of the oversharing type. Shocker, I know. Just because I overshare doesn't mean I am confident in my decisions or failures or anything, really.
In the midst of this monotonous, chaotic, complicated life, you do get glorious moments... Like the snuggles and the pride and excitement of showing you their clean room. The "I love you mommy's." And like the time your child who slices her finger while "moving" daddy's razor, explains to us that she is far more concerned about the large bandage on her middle finger because if she holds it up it means she "hates God." She's 6. But ya know, these babies just keep bringing us to the next day, next week... with even more opportunities for us to screw them up.