We have made it through four years–they of being alive, and we of parenting. All of us survivors and learners and becomers.
I would normally wax poetic about how wonderful and amazing my kids are. Which, of course, they are.
Except sometimes. Like these past two nights, both of which have required multiple glasses of wine.
I mostly try to write about the little celebrations, the moments of gratitude, the peace in the chaos. Sometimes, though, I feel compelled to present parenting as it really is: its frustrations all mixed up together with the joy.
So here are the highs and lows of the last few days:
High: Waking up to the pile of presents from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and parents. So much glee.
Low: Tears due to the incorrect color of goggles and fights over toys. Pushing. Hitting. More tears. Fighting over space on my lap.
High: Every Sunday, Fr. Mark asks anyone whose birthday or anniversary is that week to come to the altar for a blessing. The kids watch this every Sunday. This morning, Audrey and Theresa brought their birthday cards to show Fr. Mark how old they were. Upon hearing his request for birthdays, Audrey led the charge–and I mean full-on sprint–toward the altar. Fr. Mark pretended to look terrified at potentially being tackled by three four-year-olds. It was one of the most enthusiastic and adorable birthdays I’ve ever seen. They got their blessing, though Audrey hid her head in my shoulder for the singing–I think it was one of her first moments of feeling self-conscious.
Low: One of our children had a hard time dealing with Big Feelings today. Anytime something did not go this kid’s way, this kid hit or pushed a sibling, sometimes just because the sibling happened to be in the vicinity. One of these moments happened downstairs, and I heard the “I want Moooooommmmmmyyyyyyyy” wail drift upstairs. A naked child appeared in the doorway, crying, and crawled up on my lap. As I was, um, using the toilet. Another child was already on a small potty in the next room because the bathroom was occupied. As I comforted the naked child on my lap, the third child, also naked, came crying into the room, also wanting comfort. Comfort is hard to give when one is in such a compromised position. Makes me want to lock the bathroom door. Except when I do, this happens:
Low: We had a few things to get at the grocery store, a trip that we told them would end with a stop by the bakery for them to pick out a birthday treat. They wanted to eat their treats in the store; we told them the treats were for dessert (i.e. after dinner). Meltdown. I had to leave the store with two kids while Alan paid for the groceries with the non-melting-down child.
High: Audrey hit Theresa (that’s not a high point). Then she came up to the crying Theresa, hugged her, and said, unprompted, “I’m sorry. You’re the nicest cat ever.” Theresa: “I’m not a cat.” Audrey: “You’re the nicest person.”
Low: Audrey was crying in the car because she needed a hug. I could not give her a hug because I was wearing a seatbelt. Theresa: “She needs to be quiet. I’m trying to sleep.” Jamie: “I’m trying to listen to the music.”
High: They’ve gone to sleep nearly immediately after lights-out for three nights in a row. Growth spurt? Exhaustion? Vestiges of the nasty cold they had? Who knows. At least I can finish my wine in peace.
All I’m saying is, fellow parents, sometimes it’s hard to focus on the highs and ignore the lows.
But, as Mr. Slinger says in Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.”