Living the Dream, Right?

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I was on the phone yesterday with a friend who’s known me a long time, although we’ve only ever seen each other here and there since we were 19-year-old summer missionaries together.

Those 19-year-old girls didn’t have boyfriends, although they would both start dating their future husbands within months. They didn’t know much … or knew everything, as most teenagers do. But they were both fully convinced they wanted to be mothers, stay-at-home ones.

We dreamed of having many small children, getting together to play Scrabble with our husbands as our kids worked puzzles and played with dolls on the floor. We dreamed of frilly Sunday dresses, growing baby bellies, and playing ring around the rosey.

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My friend has two children, a girl and then a boy, just like my first two. Our daughters were actually due on the exact same day, although hers hung out in the womb a little longer than Libbie. She’s not quite as nuts as I am; her son is 6 months or so younger than my David.

And as we chatted yesterday about whiny, arguing siblings, how her husband was away for work and she was single parenting, and how exhausted we both are, she said, “I just keep telling myself, I’m living my dream!”

It seems like another world and another lifetime that I was a single teen in college. Lately, melting under the exhaustion of having three children, I’ve dreamed of going back to those days. I actually told my sister last week that I would like to go back, just for an hour, to swoon over the male a capella group, eat Ben and Jerry’s at The Cellar, laugh with my best friend.

It’s hard to remember that back then, this was my dream. Marriage. Kids. Writing.

It’s easy to want what we don’t have.

My friend and I both confessed that now our dream is sleeping. A lot.

So many older women have told me that this time when the kids are tiny is the best time. The time I will long for when I am fully gray. And often I think, “Really? When all they do is fight and scream and ask me for everything and I change diapers and I don’t sleep?”

But in the back of my mind, I get it. I’m pretty sure it’s true. The looming years of their own teenagerhoods frighten me more than crazy accidents or throwing broccoli on the floor.

After waking him up from his nap today, I scooped David into my arms and just held him. It’ll seem like minutes until he won’t let me do that. I breathed in his scent – peanut butter from lunch today – and kissed his head and rubbed his back until he wriggled away.

This is the dream. And I am grateful for it.

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11 thoughts on “Living the Dream, Right?

  1. My kids are 9 and 12 now. I remember desperately wishing they would get to a more independent stage when they were little, and now I’m wishing they weren’t quite so independent now!

  2. Like so many things that are worth doing, stay-at-home parenting can be a dream — and really really hard — at the same time. I sometimes feel a similar guilt. After a really difficult day with my 2.5-year-old, I lie in bed and beat myself up for not enjoying this enough or not counting my blessings. After all, things can always be worse. Why can’t I just be grateful for my healthy, happy, active boy?

    But it frustrates me that I feel this way. Of course we are tired! Taking care of small children is exhausting! And as much as I’m sure we’ll look back and long for the snuggles and the kisses and the good days, NO ONE looks back longingly for the hard parts. No one says, “Remember how wonderful it was cleaning up poopy accidents for the fourth time in one day?,” or “Boy, do I miss carrying a screaming toddler out of the grocery store.”

    In order to appreciate the good, we have to deal with and acknowledge that there are ugly parts of parenting, too. There are sleepless nights and crippling worry and doubt and lots and lots of mess. It’s okay to have bad days, too!

    Hang in there, try to cherish the good parts as much as possible, but it’s okay to not love it every second of every day. Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad.

    • Oh so true! I think I should copy this comment up there on my post. It’s hard to portray every side when I’m writing, but YES. I will never reminisce fondly about Libbie hitting David and David screaming bloody murder for half an hour. I don’t think I’ll miss loading and unloading three carseats.

  3. I can see how we’ll long for these days, even though we’re so exhausted now. After adding a teenage foster child to me two young ones for a few months, I understand what people mean when they say little kids are physically exhausting but teens are emotionally exhausting. When we first got our foster teen, I thought, “wow, this is easy!” but there were moments that were tough in a very different way.

  4. Thanks for this post! I’m a teacher at home for the summer, which I so long for during the school year, and feeling like I just want to be back at work some moments so that I don’t have to deal with the 3 1/2 year old tantrums or planning my trips out around my 2 month old’s eating schedule. These are days I will look back at fondly, but right now it’s downright exhausting!

    • I’ve been at home for 3+ years and I still long for the “escape” of going to work some days. But when I was working I wanted to be home so badly. There is guilt and hard every which way. We have to do what keeps us the most sane. Hang in there, mama, and enjoy the summer. Or get a sitter when you need one!

  5. My boys are 15, 12, and 7. I remember the days of when they were small as physically exhausting. There were moments of joy and moments of overwhelmed mixed together.

    Now I find it more manageable. There is still exhaustion, but it is more mental. They don’t go to bed at 8 anymore and I miss my alone time with DH at night, because a 15 year old thinks 10 is a good bedtime (which I guess it is for him, but not for me!)

    Just like before there are moments of joy and overwhelm mixed together.

    You can do it! 🙂

    • Oh, yes. I will miss the free nights with my hubby. But I suppose that’s when they want to be out with friends all the time, too, huh?

      I am going to have to get more mentally stable before my kids are teens, it seems …

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