Wednesday, January 26, 2011

:: laundry and other hard things about parenting ::

so here's the thing, and i know you already know this and so do i: parenting is so hard. i am only a parent and not a grandparent or anything yet, but i can just tell that being a grandparent is, one day, if my kids have kids of their own, going to be so much better than being a parent.

because the thing about parenting that's so hard isn't necessarily the kids, or the tantrums, or the illnesses, or the fights. it's the complete-and-total-responsibility of it all. it's the needing to be the person who pays attention to things like nutrition. it's the policing the TV use and teaching small people how to be good small people first, and then good bigger people. it's the paying attention to the thermometer and telling the kids "no, you can't go outside today" when even the thermometer is shivering from the cold.

i totally love the exception days. the days when i'm less like a parent and more like a grandparent. the days when we get mcdonald's for lunch and watch two movies in a row and forget to brush our teeth and eat stuff we dropped on the floor. the days when we take fun-only-no-cleaning baths. i am, as a parent, totally made for those days. if i could, we'd jump on beds all day long and when the kids are a bit older maybe make up rude limericks just for fun. i'm the parent who encourages babies to feed themselves even if its so-freaking-messy. i'm the one whose son sits down at arts and crafts at preschool and, while the other kids all look at the example snowman and try to copy it onto their own pages, creates the kind of snow man that makes the teacher ask, "evan, what have you drawn here?" i'm the one who's totally proud of him for that.

but i'm also the one who is teaching her thirteen-month-old daughter to say thanks (it comes out "sanks" and boy oh boy does it impress strangers), and the one who enforces bed times. i'm the one who mops the floor now because the pediatrician said that the baby's got a slightly elevated lead level and it's probably from lead in the dust on the floors.

i totally hate mopping. prior to this january i don't even recall the last time i did mop. but i'm nothing if not a responsible parent.

which sometimes i also totally hate. it's just so much less fun. so much harder. don't get me wrong, i actually do think i'm doing a pretty good job with these-here-kids. truly, i do. i think i find that space between indulgent grandparent and order-shouting military commander and squeeze myself and my kids right in there. but while i sit there in that space, i sure do wish we were eating raw cookie dough off the floor.

that sounds like a good way to spend an afternoon.

i think the thing about being the kind of parent i am, the kind that wants to be creative all the time and have fun and break molds and be a little bit contrary but who really believes in raising kids who can both break those molds and also sit comfortably inside them when it's a good idea to do so, the thing about that that's so darned hard is that the regular days? the days when we do brush and wash and clear our dishes and only watch a little TV? the routine days? they kind of make me feel like they're making me less creative and fun.

i want my kids to know that there's a time for folding laundry and a time for getting into laundry-throwing battles of epic proportions.

i guess i just wish that didn't mean i had to spend a significant portion of time actually folding laundry.