Today is January 24th. Already this month, my kids have had 5 snow days and 3 days off for holidays and professional development. All of this comes directly after two weeks of winter break and a house filled with covid quarantine and I’m hanging on by a thread.
I’m writing this because I know I’m not the only one. Some of us are in the thick of it right now. I have a pre-teen with hormones, a 7-year-old with middle child syndrome, and a toddler that is turning into a three-nager. The past two years their childhood has been anything but normal. Covid continues to add restrictions to their school life, sports, and social life. We are all on edge.
In one of my sarcastic social media posts, I commented that we have another 5 full days together-yay! I had quite a few people comment or DM me to enjoy this time, it goes so fast.
I know they meant well but here’s the thing… well things.
1. I have two boys that don’t relax. They don’t sit (unless it’s with video games that we usually take away from them). They don’t self-entertain well. They fight and argue and whine. They want to be busy.
2. I have a toddler. She needs me when she is home. And wants to be attached to my side constantly. I love this. But it can also be suffocating.
3. My husband and I work from home. Many of us have had to juggle this dynamic for 2 years. Our patience is thin with kids interrupting zoom and phone calls. Trying to mute out the screaming in the background, because we all know the worst fights happen when you tell them you are getting on a call. Cleaning up constant messes and being a full-time chef.
4. There is hardly any time for “me” in this phase of life. When I am stripped of the kid-free hours from 9-3 for multiple days on end, I start to lose it. This isn’t good for anyone.
I think that when people are out of the trenches of having small people at home, it’s analogous with childbirth. You forget the worst parts and remember the happiness. Trust me, I’m hoping that’s me one day. But for now, I’m often in survival mode.
As a friend told me, those of us in this stage of life are navigating uncharted waters. Parenting is hard. Always hard. For everyone. We each have different challenges. But I would argue that these past two years have been something that many of us are still trying to work through, children included, and some people can’t quite relate to that added challenge that has constantly been presented to us.
Being “on” even more than usual is an exhausting task. Trying to simultaneously give yourself to your kids and work, while maintaining your sanity, is not easy during these years. The days that we are all home for DAYSSSSS on end start out well but have the same predictable course. These aren’t vacation days. These are days where we are all out of our routine, yet the parents are still trying to keep up with their daily work responsibilities with some needy sidekicks. I love my children. But I’m also with them for every practice, game, field trip, meeting, breakfast, dinner, homework struggle, nighttime battle, the car ride to and from school, and most minutes in between. I volunteer in some capacity for all of their sports, help with their schools, and carpool extra kids. I’m there for them and committed to making their childhood pretty darn good. I believe I keep a relatively good perspective in the midst of the crazy schedules and strong personalities, but sometimes I think I’m allowed to say, “enough of this bat sh*t crazy.”
I know how fast the years are going. I’m sure I’ll write about that at another time. As the years go on and with each child, I’m even more aware of this phenomenon. And I DO enjoy it. When we laugh, when we snuggle, when we make memories, when I see them grow as individuals.
But here’s the thing. I don’t enjoy ALL of it, all of the time. And that’s okay.
So to those of you also in the trenches right now, I’m sure one day we will forget these crazy days and look back on them with fondness and a smile. In the meantime, don’t feel guilty if there are moments, or even days, that you don’t “enjoy.” This doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, only that you are human and a sign that it’s time for a good workout, date night, or pedicure…without the kids!