“…and put them in a house alone with three young children all day and they will be insane by the end of the day.” (This is what I tell Greg sometimes when he gets off of work to sum up how our day was in a nice neat little package. Here you go. I gift-wrapped it for you). This might be a slight exaggeration. They *might* be able to retain their sanity for the day. Hell, they might last a few days. Try seven years (Actually, I take the fact that I am not insane as a true testament to how mentally strong I really am, though staying home with kids definitely tests ones limits and let’s just say no one makes it out unscathed. Some people call this personal growth or even the dreaded “growing up”. I call it “no where to run from your personal demons confronting you face-to-face on an every day basis and there’s no where to hide, it’s show time, baby”).
Some people like to act like they have it all together. Like having and raising kids is easy peasy lemon squeezy. I don’t like these people (because I don’t like liars). The truth is, having kids may be less difficult for some depending on the personalities of the kids and the amount of personal baggage you bring to the table to sort through. Though, I have a hard time believing that I am that unusual and I think most people (not on facebook) would agree that it’s the challenge of a lifetime.
Then there are older people whose kids are grown. You can’t trust these people. They have amnesia, you see. It’s a coping mechanism, a kind of memory repression. Sure, people do this all the time with unpleasant thoughts and events. (Hell, it seems like every time I go on vacation with Greg and the kids I do it. While in the thick of it, I am often overwhelmed by stress and cursing myself and Greg for thinking that going on X trip was even remotely feasible, never mind a “good” idea. I make mental notes: “Never again…” Yet it seems like only a matter of days have gone by after we get back home when I find myself remembering the trip with nostalgia and longing. All of the stress and negativity is already fading fast. Weird. The human mind is a sneaky Pete).
You know these people. They are the ones who look at your little terrors with dewy eyes and exclaim how cute they are (even while said kids are glaring at this person with poison arrow dart eyes). Did my strained polite smile falter just then when I said, “Thank you”? It’s not their fault. Like I said, it’s a natural coping mechanism so it’s best to just smile, accept their praise and then continue wrestling the candy out of your kids hands in the grocery check out lane.
Not that I would trade it for the world, of course. I often have to remind myself that I chose this path (not that I really had any inkling what I was getting myself into. Who does?) and that the highly rated public school that Ruth would go to all day is just down the block and if we really wanted to, we could make both that and preschool for Joel happen (theoretically anyway).
I recently ran into a mother with three kids of similar ages to mine who looked at me incredulously when I told her I homeschool mine. She had to catch her breath, compose herself from the shock of my announcement before she could come back with, “Why?!” and then declare that she couldn’t wait to get her oldest into school and that she had just signed up her middle child, a four year old like Joel, for five days a week of preschool (this is not by any means an unusual response to my admission of homeschooling. It’s really interesting to hear peoples’ reasoning behind schooling or homeschooling their kids. Not that I blame this woman for her sentiments. I understand them completely. I feel them (see above) I am right there with you, lady. I get it. More than you probably know. Trust me).
But I do make a different choice. Though it’s difficult, I think (I hope) it’s worthwhile. I also count myself as lucky enough to be able to stay home with the kids and invest so much into them. When things get hard I try to remember this. And I try to keep my sense of humor (you just dumped out the entire basket of crayons and the dogs water bowl for no reason? That’s hilarious. It’s so funny I forgot to laugh. (early nineties humor anyone?) Just endless hilarity around here). And I try to remember that they won’t be this young forever. I assume things will get easier at some point (though I have heard multiple people advise, “little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems”. Not helping, people. La-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you…”).
The last things I do to maintain sanity (which I’ve become very good at), in case you’re wondering, are invest in some kind of self care (sleep, blogging, good food, zumba) and look on the bright side (which believe me, does not come naturally to me). Every day is a balancing act. Even though I fall multiple times per day, I get back up with determination and purpose. That’s all a person can do.