When I started this blog in 2005, I had 3 children under the age of 6. It's hard to remember what that life was like. Pictures tell me it was filled with toy cars, Legos, PBS, and enough chicken nuggets to build a small fort.
Our crew -- year unknown...2010? But we were obviously happy because, I mean...see what we're eating?
Today, I have 4 children under the age of (almost) 16. Our lives are full of cords and their chargers, books, Apple TV, sports equipment, and still...sadly...chicken nuggets. Sometimes.
I love looking back at posts like this, where it was all I could do to get a small moment of alone time. I was simply treading water at times, keeping my head above the waves, desperate for friendship and connection in the midst of raising little people. (Here's a hilarious old post where I ponder the future of a very famous athlete...so embarrassing...)
We're out of the dizzying years of toddlers and preschool, and in the thick of teen brains and school-age drama. Here's a collection of what I've learned, or rather, what I think is important to remember.
1.) There is no EASY child. I hate it when people say kids are "hard" or "easy," as if children are a Geometry test. Every child is a challenge because every child is a unique and interesting set of DNA. We decide somehow that children are "easy" when they are obedient, quiet, and do all the thing WE want them to do. Pretty sad, really. Instead, I've realized that every Mama has her own journey to travel. I will not look with pride or envy at a journey that is not my own. I will link arms with you, friend, and do my best to listen and love you as you go.
2.) Auto-pilot is not for marriages. My husband and I did not have a regular date night, nor did we have extravagant yearly outings. All we did was take a date every now and then, and every now and then, we got away from the kids for more than one night. It was oxygen for our marriage. We sent silly texts to each other. We smiled at each other across the room. We didn't argue in front of kids (well, not too much...) and we tried to be playful and affectionate at all times. It hasn't been perfect and we mess up a lot, but it's still good. Very, very good.
3. Sometimes just being there really is all you need to do. Wait, seriously? Just be there? Yes. Just be in the kitchen, the car, at the game. Be there and be nice. When they are ready to talk, you are available. You'll live your life and they'll watch you. They will learn and they will grow and they will become these cool people who make you laugh so hard at the kitchen table, you can't breathe.
I read a lot of books. I prayed a lot. But I think I needed to relax a little more, laugh a little more. These days are shorter than you think. Enjoy them, Mama.