by the time i got married, i had eight nephews and one niece. i had been babysitting on my own since sixth grade and had even watched two of my nephews for a week, by myself at their house, when i was sixteen. so it's not like i had never been around kids, or only been around then in a "fun aunt" kind of role. i thought i knew what it was all about. while i didn't totally love all of my babysitting time, i enjoyed my nephews and loved them deeply and knew that i was a good caregiver.
but OH MY OH ME what a difference there is between being a caregiver for a day or even a week and being a full-time, always in demand, having to figure out what to do when your child is sick, or not napping, or not eating, or screaming for an hour... parent.
to be honest, i really struggle. this last month has been especially hard for me. my boys are totally awesome, but i often feel like i'm not the right mom for them. or for any kid for that matter. i read articles or blog posts of moms who talk about how their kids are like sunshine to their proverbial gardens. i used to beat myself up a lot about those things, and they still get to me, but for the most part, i realize they are either only choosing to focus on the positive or that maybe they have kids who are a little more laid back than my little beasties. i could paint a picture of purely motherly bliss if i wanted to.
"ahh, brotherly love." except that they were actually fighting and jockeying for space in the truck when i took this picture. and then max bit ben because ben kept smushing him.
or this one. a fun snack in the super cool fort that i made for them in the newly cleaned out upstairs. reality: feeling exhausted and knowing that ben would whine about any real dinner i made, i gave them popcorn, cheese, and pears while i laid on the floor and read a magazine. then max ruptured my spleen when he jumped on me because i wasn't paying attention and ben started to complain that he was going to throw up. he recovered, but was again bitten by max because max wanted the lego helmet that ben had. yes, brotherly love indeed.
some moments really are just wonderful and beautiful. but for every wonderful beautiful moment, i would honestly say i have an equal amount of moments where i can feel my blood pressure rising and i shout to myself, "what the frick frack is he doing!?"
i've been trying to remind myself that i'm a mother because it's my vocation and not because i'm looking for a fun filled joy ride of kisses and giggles. our culture is all about doing what you want, when you want, and i feel like children are becoming, for some, more like an accessory than a being with a soul, entrusted to be raised to know, love and serve Him.
but yowzas! this whole raising and teaching gig is hard. for me it is agony and ecstasy and a lot of in between. so much pain (emotional and physical) and frustration and so much beauty.
i'm glad i didn't fully comprehend what i was signing up for when i became a parent. i would certainly have locked my chastity belt, thrown away the key, and ran for the hills. but since there's no turning back, i'll just have to keep taking pictures of my cute boys and trying to block out what was really going on in the picture.
i keep trying to explain to them that unless they tone it down, they will not have any other brothers or sisters. (ben makes frequent requests.) i think max wants to stay the baby of the family because i swear he keeps kicking it up a notch.