Thursday, May 17, 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Children

Being a mom is hard.

In fact, according to some wildly misguided people (who have never been in the employ of, say, a South American mine) it's the hardest job there is.

In my estimation, the main difficulty of being a parent lies in the profession's vast unrelentingness. I mean, these kids are ALWAYS looking for something from you. They're forever needing to be dressed or demanding to be bathed or OH SWEET LORD is it really time for another meal? I feel like I fed them like 20 minutes ago!!!

I have three children, and I tell you the requests of me begin around 6:30 in the morning and often don't wrap up until sometime after 9pm. On some unfortunate evenings, the demands continue well into the wee hours as David and I are called upon for water procurement, pacifier replacing, and the occasional battling of monsters under the bed.

When one is on the receiving end of such an epic barrage of child-based need, it can be tempting to curl up in a ball on the couch, put one's fingers in one's ears, and rock back and forth while fervently praying that the children will magically remain silent until it's time for them to leave for college.

Unfortunately, I am here to let you know that this path is highly ineffective. 

In better news, I have discovered a method of interacting with one's children that actually does seem to help. After much experimentation, I happened upon a truly extraordinary fact:

I enjoy my children more the more I pay attention to them.

Take a moment. I know it's shocking.

Now, I consider myself an expert at ignoring my children lest they drive me insane. I freely admit to the times that I've sat in the corner of the playroom, willfully ignoring their cries of

"Mommy it's mine!"

"It's broken! I need you to fix it!"

"Milk! I want MILK!!!"

and the always haunting

"I think I pooped!"

as I obsessively hit the refresh button on my Facebook page.

But I've come to understand that this just isn't as effective as simply getting off my butt and getting involved. Rather than hiding away, desperately attempting to deny the fact that I have produced three children in four years, I've found it is actually better to attempt to engage said children in gleeful fun time. 

And so I use funny voices to convey the danger Thomas the Tank Engine faces as he heads towards the ravine. Then I gather everyone in the backyard and play several dozen rounds of "I chase you around in a circle while you laugh hysterically". Later I supervise the baking of several dozen muffins, fully realizing that this will mean scraping batter from the ceiling at some later date. If things get desperate enough there is a rousing sing along of "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round."

All of us, myself included, thoroughly enjoy ourselves. We laugh a lot, I get some exercise, and amazingly enough the entire experience proves vastly preferable to pretending the children don't exist.

By 6pm or so I'm exhausted but guess what? So are the children! This means they no longer have the will to attack each other violently over toy disputes; they lack the verve to destroy the couch while watching Dora; and they can barely summon the energy to call my name 1,000 times in a row, thus causing me to wish to drop them off in a basket in front of the firehouse.

Folks, all I can tell you is that in my house this playing with the children racket seems to be working. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some batter I need to scrape off the ceiling.