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.


  1. Love this post. Not only do you articulate the relentlessness so well but you've hit on the enjoying part without sounding like a Mom I could never be. I have an 11 year old daughter (only one because I was the oldest of 7) and sometimes being funny about things helps so much. Just last night she was complaining that her mother's day gift hadn't arrived yet. While complaining she accidentally blurted out it was a mug and was so mad at herself. She said, "I wish we could just rewind time." So I went into full rewind mode in the kitchen as I was making dinner and she laughed so hard she almost wet her pants! Thank god it wasn't poop and even if it was at least she can take care of it herself. Anyway, your post is a great reminder to me and I appreciate it. Thanks!

  2. This is 100 percent true. Refreshing to read.

  3. So far it seems you are doing a great job. All you can do is love these little people, despite poop explosions, meltdowns, and random crying fits for no particular reason. To think you have three so close in age - I'm really impressed that you manage to get out of bed. Keep playing and loving and laughing, because you seem to be doing that well.

    FYI on having a girl. The other day my daughter cried for an hour because I threw away a pile of popcorn kernels that I found in a tiny little pile on the carpet of her room. I was bewildered at finding popcorn in her carpet and didn't once think to ask if it was a pile of very special rubies. My fault, I now realize. I'm finding that the more creative your child is, the more hell they put you through on the emotional scale. So the lesson here is to hope for a boring, complacent little girl who listens well and always wears beige. K?