When I tell people how many kids I have, the next question is always “What are their ages?” As I rattle off 8,10,11,12, and 15, it’s comical to watch the listener’s eyes expand until they are wide-eyed and can only respond with a “Wow.”
For some reason, at this point I feel the need to respond with something like Well, we adopted some older children along the way so they weren’t all babies at the same time. I’m not sure why, but I think I’m somehow trying to vet off the notion that I’m mentally unstable from so much child rearing.
The irony is, I liked little better. I could have pulled off all those little stinkers in one fell swoop. Those days were exhausting and frustrating for sure. I’m not one of those moms with selective memory. But it was also exciting, unpredictable, and lively. I”m also not a mom full of regret over what I missed. Nope. I was there and I had fun in the moment. I just sort of miss the moment.
Take a look at this picture.
I remember that day. I dragged those kids over to our small town parade. We caught candy and ate every last piece. There was no holding back. We had ice cream too. We took the long way home, past their neighborhood preschool, saw friends, and arrived back to do something like play in the sandbox or roll in dirt. Either would have been fun.
What I think was the best about that time, as a mom, was that I controlled the events. I could wake up on any given day and decide to go to the water park, a museum, or stay home all day. It was up to me. And I like to have fun, so we did it all. Picked strawberries in a field, sat on a beach, had water balloon fights, and some days just did nothing. It didn’t matter, because it was up to me and we were together. Being impulsive is one of my favorite things.
And now I’m in the middle years. And I hate to say it, but sometimes it sucks. What I do every day is determined by my kids’ activities. There is no blowing off soccer, voice lessons, and youth group all in one night just to take a walk and get ice cream. Nope. These kids have obligations. And let me inform you that my kids are limited to one church, one sport only. But one soccer season has me at the field 3 times a week! I don’t have one single second of impulsive behavior. It’s all scheduled.
And they have homework. So. much. freaking. homework. If I’m not driving a carpool I’m assisting in the writing of a research paper or doing spelling word sentences (ok, I’ll admit the word “assist” can sometimes be an exaggeration and i just end up doing the whole damn thing, because people, I can make it happen in under 4 minutes instead of 30 and did I mention how much freaking homework they have?!) Maybe I should homeschool. Wait, I did that. Then they are home all day and I have to do school work with them. Bad idea. Remember, I’m in this for the fun.
The middle years bring doctor appointments like a mad dog too. Orthodontists that work about 20 hours a week. Physicals – can’t I just be done with those? How many times do they really need to get their teeth cleaned? Add in a girl that needs highlights and one that thinks a manicure is a monthly obligation, and it’s cray cray around here.
And finally, to top it all off, I have 4 kids feeling the pains of those middle years too. They have hormones, they cry for no reason (yes, even the boys), they want to tell me about every last move their friends made on clash of clans or the most recent girl fight at school, and they want me to solve it all. Which I can’t. Well, between you and me I’m extremely wise and I could solve everything, but when you reside in the middle years, your mother knows nothing. She is also a constant disappointment to you and whenever you get the slightest chance (and are far enough away not get grabbed) you let her know your feelings about her parenting. And what she made for dinner. And what she’s wearing. And….well, you get the picture.
Luckily I have an 8 year old that just smiles and still thinks I’m fantastic. Last night as I watched her dance around the yard, play with dog, attempt a cartwheel, and just laugh at the small joys in life, my heart was so full. I thought, I could do 8 forever. I could adopt 10 more kids and do it all over again just for moments like this. It’s the middle years that are sucking me dry. I should note that as I sat there watching her, I had a son on each side of me pouting because they were in trouble for fighting over a video game. Yep, x-box FIFA took out an entire afternoon of happiness for my boys. Ah, the middle years. Perfecting the art of holding a grudge for hours. Even days.
I do love these little boogers. So stinking much. They are going to be fantastic adults. Not only that, at some point it all goes back to fun. I’ll be off the hook for car rides and homework. Now when they call to recant their friend drama they will find my wisdom helpful. Maybe. Or at least they will appreciate what a good listener I am. Perhaps. But until then I will begin this summer listening to the sound of their eyes rolling and pained by their bickering. Ah, the middle years. Somehow we all end up surviving it.