First off, yes, I love my children. And YES I love being a mom. Let's just call that the baseline, so I can have my freak out morning and then just move on without calling CPS.
When you have a glorious 51 hours of no kids in the house, you forget some things.
1) Noise. You forget about noise. I don't know how I forgot about noise, perhaps it was 2 amazing fairytale mornings of NOT waking up to a kid crawling on top of you, or banging himself against the wall, or fighting with another kid, or smashing his piggy bank onto the ground repeatedly to get the last 2 pennies out*.
And that's just the morning. That's just before the coffee. The kids are noisy always. They're noisy when they're happy and they're noisy when they're mad. They're noisy doing chores. They're noisy when they play. They're noisy when they rest, and when they eat, and they are noisy always. And in response to the noise I feel my back tightening up and my heart rate increase because it feels chaotic and chaos causes anxiety. And somehow in 51 hours, I forgot about it all.
Oh yeah, so what did this Super Smart Mama go do to combat the problem? Well get a piano, that's what! A piano, and lessons, so that we can make more noise on purpose. I deserve an award.
2) MESS. It's hard to imagine that I forgot about mess, and truly I didn't ENTIRELY forget about mess. I mean how could I? If nothing else I've been talking about it constantly. And now that school is out, I've been trying harder to handle it, which basically means my house is still a raging mess, but I'm more accutely aware of how quickly it BECOMES a raging mess.
But for 51 hours, my husband and I were home together, we barely cleaned anything. And yet... the house just was clean. Because we also didn't actively try to destroy everything we saw. The kids were home 5 minutes, I swear no longer than 5 minutes, and their were shoes scattered everywhere and a suitcase blocking the hallway and toys in the kitchen and both kids bedrooms were completely destroyed. Their were brownie crumbs all over the table and the floor, and a few miscalaneous items they'd found on a counter, grabbed, and then just, threw on the ground. I mean, I understand kids are messy, but this kind of destruction in that amount of time was legitimately breathtaking. I brought home. I went to the restroom. I came out of the restroom and the house was ground zero. Sometimes you just don't see the tornado coming, I guess.
3) How I become the scary dictator. In those 51 hours, I rested. I laughed. I ate too much food and enjoyed some movies and games and remembered the me that is primarily silly and fun and way the heck more carefree than I've been in some time. But in the past few hours, between the 4 children, we've had half a dozen tantrums. All 4 have lied, all 4 have walked away when I asked them to do something, all 4 have fought and screamed and made each other cry.
And carefree Ashley died that day.
Some days I look in the mirror and see the grumpy, strict, dictator human that I've become and I think... when did this happen exactly? When did you start spending all day giving instructions and then giving warnings and then giving punishments and then explaining why that behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and then doling out more instructions and more warnings and more consequences and spankings and time outs and extra chores and...
Wow. I slow down and think, is this what parenting is supposed to be? And while I'm sure that a million people could tell me it's wrong... I think that a good part of parenting is supposed to be like this. Because kids need to learn that ignoring authority is not acceptable. That disrespectful selfish and rude behavior is not acceptable. That choosing what they want over the well being of others is not acceptable. That lying is so very not acceptable. That screaming and hitting and fighting are just not acceptable.
Kids don't come out "good". They come out cute and squishy and small, but not good. They're naturally selfish. They're sinful and broken from the get go, and it's our actual primary job to guide them through that. And that means instructions. It means warnings. It means constant explanation about HOW WE ACT and WHAT WE SHOULD CHOOSE INSTEAD. And it means predictable, reliable consequences when they choose not to heed the instructions and the warnings.
Of course I prefer to be the fun silly mom who runs around with the kids on the beach, plays games all day and loves tickle fights. That part of parenting is super fun. But like with so many other things, you need to do the work to get the fun. you can't just do the fun stuff and skip the hard stuff. Because if I'm not willing to raise and train them, then I haven't really earned the fun stuff. Gotta eat your vegetables before you get dessert. I mean come on, that's Momming 101.
And now for one thing I didn't forget during our 51 hours of freedom- This dude right here. This person who is THE BEST. I love my kids, for sure. But I love my husband. They are my responsibility, my purpose, my very blessed charge. And I would die for them. But he is my partner. He loves me back. The children will never and should never be burdened with the responsibility of my emotional well being. My relationship with my kids is a one way street. They need me, and I do for them. And some day, they'll move out, have families of their own, and they'll love other people more than they love me. Because that's how it's supposed to be. But with this man, it's mutual. We're in it together. We're in it for keeps. 12 years, my friend. Way to keep being awesome.
Oh and one more thing:
"I WISH YOU WOULD JUST DIE ALREADY!!"
These are words I just heard screamed in my house right now. Because parenting is fun.
*At least 3 of those things happened by 6:30am today. That's all I'm saying.