I'm not gonna lie. I thought this is what parenting would be like.
When I had my daughter, I pictured us just like this....giving each other flowers, giggling, while sparkles showered down around us, and someone randomly catching this beautiful moment on camera so that we could live in it forever (and by that I mean subtly showing off by posting it on every social media platform). The lighting would be perfect. Our hair would be perfect. Our smiles would be perfect. Our outfits would match PERFECTLY. Basically everything was PERFECT.
Let me tell you what parenting is.
(Disclaimer, this is just my story so if you do live a life like this picture, leave my blog immediately and ram your face into the nearest hard object--and most of what I say is said humorously, so calm your tit)
Again, let me tell you what parenting is. Parenting, for me, is listening to kids scream. Constantly. Like, always. I don't think a moment goes by in my day when one of my two children is not screaming. I'm not sure if they're very mad creatures, or if it is just their way of communicating, or if they are determined to gray my hair entirely by age 30. Whatever the case, my children scream. They do not sit quietly, or calmly, or peacefully.
They do not pose for pictures. I can't tell you how many thousands of BLURRY pictures I have on my phone. When people start talking about their kids' milestones, I get all excited like, "Here, let me show you!"
This is my daughter taking her first steps.
Oh, this is my son when he first smiled.
This is when I took my kids to the aquarium!! They just LOVED the penguins!
(indestinguishable blob within blurry photo)
But really. If I ever get a non-blurry photo of my kids doing something epic, I will go to my grave happy.
Having kids is literally having little demons. I look between my two offspring wondering what I did to deserve the spawn of Satan. And sometimes, my heart glows with so much pride and joy, I smile because my heart is so full, and I just know I've done everything right in the world.....wait, wrong blog post. What I really thought, was, "Do shut up, already! Can't you see I'm trying to figure out what 'Ganosh da blah blu blhashnotgdatie!' means? Throwing the remote will NOT make your movie start. No, I don't want to eat your half chewed, slobbery piece of--okay, fank-voo bery buch, I will just chew this and barf a little. For the love, please cover your mouth when you cough and FOR THE NINETEENTH TIME, PLEASE DO NOT SQUASH THE BLUEBERRIES INTO THE PILLOWS!!!!"
I've realized, as I look around, that THIS is indeed what having children is supposed to be like. This IS my life. I REMIND MYSELF DAILY, that I was not meant to have picture perfect kids. We did not step out of a magzine. Unless it is the latest issue of Moms In The ER because I threw out my back picking my toddler up since she reaches for me and yells, "Up! Up! Up!" every five seconds...
Our life will be full of tears and snot and coughing (yes, today all three of us have the flu bug. It is awesome ) It will be full of parental competition. Yes, you in your $3,000 double wide jogger. You and your Honest Company wipes can disappear. (sobs to self....I...b-buy....K-k-ki-kirkland wipes, o-ok?) But I also remind myself DAILY, that my heart is full of joy, despite these unfortunate circumstances.
When we see one another's posts on social media, we forget that the picture is just a single snapshot, caught in one millisecond, and it happened to be the very best one which is why it was made public. That's what I do, anyway. I choose these wonderful pictures of me and my kids, with the sun shining on us like little angels. I might even Photoshop some butterflies and rainbows, because I sort of want to live in that alternate reality. Every now and then, it would be nice to say, "My kids are SOOO well-behaved, 24/7, especially on the days they decide to skip naps!"
Every now and then, it would be nice if my kids skipped in circles at my feet, singing songs from The Sound of Music, instead of sprinting from room to room, undoing everything that can be undone, shouting unintelligible gibberish that closely resembles something Limp Bizkit would produce.
It would be cool if the highlight of my day was sleeping in until 10am, in a bed that had clean sheets, with fluffed pillows, instead of the highlight being how many times my kid made it to the potty before going potty.
If the radio was my background noise, instead of my son crying and fussing every breathing minute.
If my hair looked done...I did this bun different than yesterday, can you tell?!? (sly smirk)
There are days when I would rather look like my 19 year old self again, and have spare time, or a LONG hot shower, NOT use so many cuss words, and feel like I AM impacting the world in one way or another. I could do without so many spills, and poopie pants. I could pass on the letting-my-husband-watch-the-kids-so-I-can-take-a-nap....which translates into: Me lying in my bedroom, with the door shut, silently crying because I'm too exhausted to sleep and my head is pounding and I'm starving and dehydrated and the natural disaster that is taking place in my living room will eventually have to be cleaned up.
I so thought I'd be that mom whose daughter ran up to her as fast as she could, wrapped her wee arms around my neck, gave me a big kiss, and said, "I love you, mom!"
The truth is, I AM that mom. MY DAUGHTER DOES run up to me, she jumps--hands flying wide---gaping smile on her face-- and trusts that I will catch her. She gives me huge, wet, open-mouthed kisses on my cheek that doubles as her designated booger rubbing surface. She mumbles something in her mixed toddler-English which I choose to believe means, I love you, mom. And I know it does, because we sit there for a few minutes, embracing one another, ignoring the boogers and the sticky fingers stuck in my hair, and the streak of ketchup that travelled from her kiddie plate all the way to the front of my sweater. And we listen to her younger brother screeching in the background, telling us he is lonely and wants in on the action. So I carry her to the floor, where we sit down and I gather both kids into my lap. We sit, smushed, with books and sippies surrounding us, the same movie on repeat. My daughter smells like urine and cough syrup, not butterflies and rainbows. My son has two dreadlocks in his hair and puke down the front of his chest, but he's blowing bubbles and contentedly snuggling into me, with only one sock on. I'm suddenly no longer resentful of my husband abandoning me every morning to his luxury getaway called "work". And instead of screaming at him first thing as he walks through the door, "You did this to me!" I just wave and blow him a kiss, and I'm thinking, THIS is it. THIS is what it is all about. AND I AM STUPIDLY HAPPY. I'm pretty sure we would be blurry as heck if someone tried to snap a photo of us, but they would capture a moment of pure bliss. It's okay, a blurry image will suffice, because these memories will live on crystal clear in my mind and heart forever. My son will eventually sleep, and during that short time I'll stare at his chubby cheeks and cry...happy tears. Nobody knows why. My daughter will grab my finger, because she knows her brother is out for at least a half hour and she has my undivided attention. She will drag me to her table and we will paint and color, and I won't even care about how much of it stains my white tile floor. In fact, I'll spot half an uneaten granola bar down there and think, SCORE! Lunch!!! And I didn't even have to cook.
Nightime will roll around and the kids will take a bath together. My son will sit and smile and laugh, in his 4 month old, fatty McFatt Fat way. He adores watching his sister. She will splash water all over and throw each of her bath toys out of the tub. I'll reflect on the ups and downs of the day. I did try to do something educational, but so what if my kid doesn't read by age 4? I did put on cartoons for a minute so I could take a breather, rehabilitate, give myself a pep talk, scrub six dishes, and get back in it!! As soon as everyone is in bed, and the house does fall quiet, because I am just SO SURE, it will never be quiet again and am AMAZED EVERY NIGHT when it is....I pick up the toys, mop, sweep, straighten the stupid ottoman that is always crooked, try to wash the blueberries out of my ridiculous throw pillows, and spray some Febreeze to get rid of the aroma of day-old-diaper-butt floating out of my hallway. I'm fantasizing that my night will be filled with restful dreams of dandelions. I'm fantasizing about the days when laying in bed with the hubs was a romantic endeavor. About days when I could remember what the date was, or what day of the week it was. About getting to and from point A. to point B. in less than 45 minutes. And all the while, I'm grinning. An idiotic, loopy partially insane grin, for no intents or purposes. I might even burst into laughter, remembering my daughter's face as she danced to her favorite song in Lilo and Stitch, or how she clapped her hands when she was so thrilled she shoved the binkie into her brother's mouth to help him stop crying. I fantasize about dropping my baby weight WHILE still INDULGING in my morning MOUNTIAN DEW BINGE!! ....even as I ingest a lethal dose of melatonin because heaven knows it's past 8pm!! No one out there knows my name or my story, and I did not save anyone's lives, per se. Unless you consider rapidly extracting a cheerio from your 4 month old sons mouth, as your two year old says, "Dank Doo!" and cheers because she is proud she learned to share. Do I consider myself a hero? Yes, I do...(side eye) I accomplished something and I feel grand.
I'm not sure what I thought parenting would be like exactly, or why I thought it might be different, but it is exactly as it should be. And I love it.
This is not my life.
This is my life. Slobbery smashed granola bar mess and all.