(alternate title: I hate it when the clichéd crap we say turns out to be true)
(alternate title: I hope that "Comparison is the thief of joy" is not in the Bible. Because then I would feel like even more of a failure.)
(I checked. It's not in the Bible.)
So. I have this friend who is pregnant with her second set of twins. That's right! Just 17 months after having her first set of twins she is 30 weeks pregnant with another set! Unfortunately, she is also on bed rest, or "couch rest" as she likes to call it, trying to keep those babies in the hatch for at least another month, hopefully more.
I would also like to mention that in addition to the 17-month-old twins she and her husband already have, she also has three older children aged 7, 5, and 3.
It's a full house, y'all. This lady has her hands FULL.
And it's very, very tempting to be all "OH MY LANDS" and to feel sorry for these people and to wonder why in the world they did this to themselves and to the children! And to say "holy mackerel I could not DO THAT!"
(Let's be honest. Because that is what I think about sometimes too.)
But you know what? She and her husband, who is a firefighter, LOVE IT. And despite what you might imagine about a family this large – a family that has a 1st grader, a kindergartener, a preschooler, two toddlers, two more babies on the way and a mom that is on BED REST – this gal has it TOGETHER. She is calm. Her kids are happy and loved. She and her husband are crazy about each other. She HOMESCHOOLS. Everyone is fed and gets baths at night and somehow they are making it through (she has been on bedrest already for 4 weeks). Their house is indeed messy but is still cute and fairly clean and there are no holes in the wall and it's decorated floor to ceiling with photos of their adorable family. They have extended family in the area and they have an amazing church family picking up the slack while the dad is gone for a 48-hour shift every four days. They bought a 12-passenger van. And from what I can tell? No one is panicking. There is joy and excitement and just general reveling in the pile of kids they have and anticipation about the ones to come.
And it's also discouraging.
Because sometimes? I can barely handle the two kids I have. I mean, I ONLY have two of them! Sometimes it is really, really hard and I feel really, really sorry for myself. And in my head I think "Oh man! This can not be normal! How can a three-year-old ask me the same question one hundred times and even though the answer is 'no' every time she will never, ever give up?" I get tired of never being able to go to the toilet by myself. I mean, even when I have left my two children out in the backyard to play with their dad suddenly the bathroom door handle is rattling and there is my preschooler, busting in on me once again. It wears on me how sometimes my daughter does EXACTLY what I told her not to do 30 seconds earlier when I caught her trying to do it the first time. It grates on my nerves that I can never just say "no" to either kid and not have it argued with or worse melted down about. I hate disciplining. I hate it. I just want everyone to get along and be safe and have fun. I want to be a loose, carefree mom. I want to have more fun with my kids. I don't want to have to take away fun stuff because someone hit her brother with the wiffle ball bat not two seconds after we go into the backyard, an activity she begged me to do for two hours beginning the moment I rolled out of bed. I don't want to be a warden, constantly on watch all the time for the next injury or infraction. That part really, really sucks.
You see what I did there? The woman with five kids and two on the way is doing WAY better than me and I SUCK at being a mom and why can't I just be like HER?
Because I'm so sure she never, ever has to discipline her children.
Because I'm so sure her kids never, ever get on her nerves.
Because I'm so sure she's never had to take away a fun activity because some little person could not just suck it up and BEHAVE.
My goodness, she probably never had an inconvenient diaper to change, a kid pull over something breakable or messy in a store, a kid break out the front door of her house and toddle on down the sidewalk, yogurt on her walls, laundry up to her eyeballs, someone getting hurt because they would NOT LISTEN, someone stop her in Target just to tell her how TIRED she looks and how FULL her hands must be, etc, etc, ETC.
I mean, honestly! Her life is perfect! I can just tell!
When I do this I lose sight of how awesome and amazing my kids actually are.
I mean, COME ON.
I sometimes choose to put all the good stuff into a corner. I forget about my sweet girl throwing her arms around my neck and telling me "Mama I'm gonna love you forever and ever and I'll always be your best girl and you're my best mommy in the whole world." I forget about my precious boy crawling up in my lap with a book and settling against my chest for me to read to him. I get so focused on how awesome other people must be doing because their children could not POSSIBLY be so challenging that I forget that everyone has their own shit to deal with. That parenting is hard and is draining because it is IMPORTANT. And if it seems easy to you you're probably doing it wrong.
And because it's hard that doesn't excuse you to have a crappy attitude about it all and THAT Is what I need to learn right now. I need to learn that I have things to offer my children. I need to learn to take better care of myself. I need to remember that even though she is so dang smart it's infuriating, and so very strong-willed … I need to remember that she's three. And soon she's going to be four. And I never get this back. And I have to teach her how to be a member of the human race. And I have to fight harder for the good things and receive the things that are challenging as a gift.
Because one day they'll be grown up and gone and I will miss them. I will miss their little hands and I will wish to hear "MAMA! COME AND SEE MY POOP!" echoing through the halls of my house. I will get lonely in the bathroom and my house will seem too quiet and too clean.
And then I'll just be mad at myself all over again for being so busy comparing myself to others that I missed out on the joy right here, right now.