I knew from the time I was a teenager that little kids were “not my thing.”
In the words of my son, “Maybe not having a thing is your thing, mom.” I didn’t enjoy babysitting, but I did it because there were families at church that needed a sitter… I’d say it was because the money was good, but that would be a lie. There were three families, besides my own, which I babysat regularly. I found their bedtime routines annoying. Who really needs to be read four stories?? And why does the door need to be cracked two inches instead of one? It will be okay if we can’t find Mr. Bear. Just go to bed!
I suppose my own family didn’t have specific routines at bedtime that any one of us kids HAD to follow in order to go to sleep. Perhaps that’s why I found such things exasperating. And the kids who threw fits over food? Forget it.
Being from a large family, however, I always knew that I wanted to have kids of my own one day. I liked having family around! And certainly my own kids would be different because I would be able to train my kids to act right. (HA!)
In reality, things with my own kids ARE different. But, spoiler alert: I am not the “typical mom.” Who is? (Now, don’t get me wrong… I was a tiny bit obsessed with my job as Infant Mother. I am a hard worker, and I was definitely committed to learning my new job. I studied hard and had no clue what was going on in the world outside of my home!
Just ask my sister whose wedding photos were “ruined” by my breastfeeding gigantic boobs and severely wrinkled dress…)
Nowadays, I find there are times when I am convinced that our household would collapse without my husband. Through preschool and elementary school it has been he who has known when it is our turn to bring snack. He who has known the names of the kids in class, the parents’ names, and dates of things going on at school. He who volunteers to go on field trips, practices the sight words, and works on spelling with the kids. As a teacher myself (high school – teens are more my speed), I am the one who deals with any specific teacher or classroom/education-related issues. But seriously, what would I do without my husband?
One day, after work I was chatting with a colleague who has recently decided to change careers due to being unhappy. This colleague said to me, “This job takes too much out of me. I want to spend my life doing things that make me happy. I mean, I made the decision to not have children specifically so I could be happy.”
What?? I drove home that night wondering…
“What have we portrayed to people without children?”
“What is the happiness that my children bring to my life?”
I have mentioned in a previous post that I am not a crier, but thinking about this did bring tears to my eyes. I was so sad to think that, to this person, children = not being happy. There are lots and lots of ways in which being a working parent stresses me out (and I cannot do the things I think I should be doing: see above list of things hubby does). I have lots of mom-guilt going on. I must be verbalizing these stressors at work. My colleague has oft told me, “I don’t know how you get all this done!” as I have a couple of leadership roles at school in addition to this whole parenting thing.
As a mentor teacher once told me, “There are two types of [people] in this world; Those who focus on the negative and those who focus on the positive. It is in your best interest to surround yourself with those who focus on the positive.”
So, with that in mind, I’d like to focus on, and share a few of, the random ways that my children have brought joy to my life.
- I absolutely love watching them learn something for the first time. The look of wonder and awe on their faces is priceless.
- I love that my daughter’s favorite song is “Don’t Stop Believing.” How does she even know Journey??
- Any accomplishment of theirs for which they are proud.
- Anytime any one of them does something sweet for someone else unprompted.
- Anytime the three of them work TOGETHER. Joy.
- I enjoy the fact that my youngest still has some minor separation anxiety. It is sweet (is it bad that I find this sweet?). But he has to say goodbye to us or he gets sad. Every morning he stands on the porch and waves goodbye to me. In the cold. In his underwear. Holding his blanket.
- And despite my many, many faults, they give their unconditional love. This is an obvious joy.