Thursday, April 19, 2012

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Many times when I back away from my blog, it's because I'm drowning in frustration and unable to keep my head above the waters of sanity long enough to find humor in my situation. Yes, I am confessing that I, annoyingly perky girl, fall off the wagon of optimism sometimes, and lately it's been more often than I've been willing to admit to myself.

I wish as children we could possess the foresight to understand the job our parents had (and have for all of their lives) is absolutely, unequivocally the hardest job in the world. It's a lifelong commitment of joy, laughter, snuggles, excruciatingly strong love, stress, chaos, frustration, and the best and worst life can bring out in people, coexisting in a strange hodge podge of time that passes so fleetingly it takes your breath away. For a mother (and I suspect for a father, too), it's an endless cycle of self-doubt, attempts to make the right call, and hugs and kisses to soothe anything from stomach viruses to skinned knees to mornings gone hopelessly awry.

This morning a devoted mother I've never even met but who has touched my life so deeply will bury her seven-year-old son. I've followed her blog for two years now, and her child's name has topped our kids' prayer list every morning. This mother has lived with an unshakable faith in God and in her son, and their story has impacted so many people. Her child's death has really shaken me, and I find myself even more painfully anxious and regretful about my capabilities as a mom. How can I lose my patience with my own seven-year-old so often when this mom doesn't have the luxury of hearing her little man's voice each day? If I had to choose Camden's sass and dramatics over silence, the choice goes without saying. Yet understanding what's really important and finding a way to overlook the daily stresses of life are sometimes mutually exclusive.

My ability to see the big picture is often clouded by the pop-up showers of worry. Am I bringing up little slobs because our house in such a state of disarray? Am I teaching them to disengage from the world because they see me on the computer checking email or Facebook? Am I telling them that what they have to say doesn't matter because I don't have the ability to sit and listen to an endless dissertation on Pokemon? Am I condemning them to a mountain of therapy bills because I'm such a mess myself?

My only hope is that my efforts to show them I love them and appreciate their individual personalities outweigh the times I fall short. It's hard not to worry your commitment to your children gets lost in translation when you're exhausted and overwhelmed. There are four of them looking to me to validate them and build them up as human beings, and sometimes it's just really hard to do when I can't remember the last time my house was clean or when I had more than six hours of sleep.

For all of the parents out there who carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, just know you're not alone. We all endure self-doubt and guilt. My guess is, however, that we also all muster the strength and energy soothe sick babies and hose spaghetti puke out of our vans even when we are too worn down to form coherent thoughts. We hold sick toddlers in our laps while we type or fold clothes. We say "I love you" as much as possible, and we find the courage to apologize when we make mistakes. We reiterate to our kids that our love isn't based upon how often they themselves fall short, either. It's unconditional. Then we try to remind ourselves that the love they feel for us works the same way.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Beachin' It

Yesterday was our first beach day of the season. It went as well as could be expected. I received a phone call from my better half, who was already on Tybee, around 10:30 a.m. urging me to gather the three troops who were with me and come meet him and our oldest. Of course, gathering the troops means something entirely different to me than it does to him; thus, our first day back on Tybee went a little something like this (c'mon!).

10:30-10:45--allow children to watch the remainder of their show while I dig for swimsuits. Break up two fights and mop up my daughter's pee puddle, which is on the living room carpet next to her potty. Apparently my strategy to bring the potty to her is an epic fail.

10:45-11:30--battle with two of four children to actually put down the Wii and TV remotes, put on a swimsuit, and brush the fur off of their teeth. Sit in what remains of pee puddle when trying to dress boys.

11:30-12:30--battle with Scout over which lovely bathing suit to wear and how best to coordinate beach cover and swim shoes. Dig for ponytail holders and marvel when she decides to keep her pigtails up. Search for cooler and pray it isn't growing mold. Brace myself (unnecessarily) to lose consciousness from stench when I open lid. Add sandwich fixings minus one important item--bread. Call hubby and ask him to get bread. Then text hubby and ask him to buy cheap sunglasses.

12:45--yell at hubby in stress induced frustration when he questions what is taking me so long. Dig up crappy snacks for hungry kids and try to wrestle everyone to the van and into booster and car seats.

1:00--head to Tybee and call hubby repeatedly and wonder why I am getting no answer. Fight back PMS tantrum and frustration as I get closer to Tybee with no designated plan for meeting up with hubby and firstborn child.

1:30--make third loop around the island while hubby nonchalantly purchases sunglasses.

1:45--pull my van into hubby's killer parking spot, grab bread from him, and proceed to make sandwiches to eat in the van while he searches for a new spot.

2:00-2:30 p.m.--start unloading beach chairs, cooler, buckets, shovels, Hotwheels cars, towels, camera, Pooh Bear, and the kitchen sink and witness two trucks full of rednecks on Spring Break fight over a parking spot. A nearby EMS responder walks over to intervene just as winner of the Biggest Redneck contest, heretofore known as "blue pickup truck driver," tries to run his truck over the curb and into the back of close runner up to Biggest Redneck , aka "red pickup truck driver and drunk bare chested passenger." Begin to suspect I've been teleported to Panama City Beach instead of Tybee Island.

2:30-2:45 p.m.--settle into a pretty nice spot on the beach only to discover Camden is already chest deep in the freezing cold ocean. Wade in after him and suffer mild hypothermia as a result of my quest. Change Scout's poopy swim diaper and walk back to boardwalk to toss nasty mess. Encounter many drunk girls who don't believe in using sunscreen, most of whom have glittery belly button rings and unfortunately placed tattoos on their lower torsoes. Laugh to myself as I imagine saggy post-baby tats and stretched body jewelry scars.

3:00 p.m.--pop open a 25-ounce can of Mike's Hard Lemonade, a very much appreciated peace offering from hubby. Joined by friend and his daughter. Friend apparently enjoys hypothermia and plays with our boys in the ocean while sweet daughter plays with Scout.

3:30 p.m.--cold, wet rain begins to fall. Notice two of four children have blue lips, and one has uncontrollable shivers, which I interpret as actual sign of hypothermia. Pack all of our stuff and slowly struggle to get back to the van, sulking that we won't get our money's worth of our paid parking, which does not expire until 5:50 p.m.

3:40--return Jason to his truck and stop at fishing pier so that I can pee in the smelliest, most disgusting public restroom I've seen since celebrating my 21st birthday at skanky karaoke bar.

4:45 p.m.--pull back into driveway after sitting in traffic for an hour to travel all of twelve miles.

And we can't wait to do it all again next time!