While it's great to remember and dwell on all the sparkling moments and beauty and meaning that motherhood brings to our lives (like I did with my last post), I think there's also a place for remembering the day-to-day stuff that's not so fun but is still a part of the big picture of motherhood, the stuff that teaches me patience and helps me grow (if it doesn't annoy the heck out of me first), the stuff I want other moms and my posterity to know I DID experience and DO understand.
So here's my list of current LEAST favorite things about motherhood (I was going to do 10 but when only 7 readily came to my mind, I thought I'd leave it at that...):
1. Mutually exclusive simultaneous emergency needs. At least once a day there is a time when everyone quite suddenly and very urgently seems to need something different from me at the same time. Those crisis moments aren't fun. If everyone could just take turns needing things, I'd be able to be a much better mom.
2. Interruptions. My kids interrupt me and each other constantly lately and it's driving me crazy. Plus everything I try to do gets interrupted again and again so I feel like I"m 1/2 doing 100's of things every day and never really finishing much. My sister shared a great quote with me about how interruptions show that we're needed and I love that way of thinking about them. But sometimes interruptions really get old.
3. Paper everywhere. Homework papers scattered across every flat surface in the house after school, newsletters and other papers from school being handed to me while I'm trying to drive, paper airplanes and paper snowflakes of 100 different lovely designs under chairs, on top of dressers, scattered about the floor. I do have a good system for managing all the papers that come at me but wow, with 5 elementary school students who aren't quite capable of managing their own papers, it's a LOT. And I applaud the creativity involved in all the snowflakes and airplanes but having my house look like garbage is constantly strewn about gets old.
4. Being late and rushed and stressed. I always try to cram in too much and I'm not very realistic about how long things take. My kids have picked these unfortunate tendencies up from me. So we're always rushing at the last minute and it's not a happy time for any of us. I have been working hard on this one lately and it's getting a bit better. But it's so easy to slip back into old tendencies...
5. Repetition without results. Motherhood involves repeating a lot of pretty dull and mundane things again and again and again. I got used to that pretty quick when I became a mom and the rhythm of it all got comfortable after a while. But what really gets me is having to repeat what I say SO many times and finding that often, despite my best attempts to say the same thing in new and hopefully more effective ways while attempting to stay patient and loving, the result is often not commeasurate with my efforts. Over time, some of what I say and suggest and demonstrate DOES sink in and that's so gratifying. But it's so un-fun feeling like a broken record and seemingly being ignored.
6. Fear and worry. Mothering my young children involved a lot of moments of nearly heart-stopping fear as they would speed-crawl towards the stairs when they don't know how to get down the stairs safely, make a dash for a busy street, jump off a swing in mid-air, or disappear from your side at the grocery store. But I'm finding that mothering older kids involves even more challenging fears and worries. When I see an email from a teacher of a class where my child's been having issues, I'm gripped with fear of what's happened now. When a child casually mentions he's been eating lunch alone and can't think of anyone to invite to a party, worry sets in. When a subject is so challenging for a child that it creates puddles of tears and the grades look bad, my heart aches and I fear for my child's academic future and worry about what how to turn things around. When children get into a bad rut and are mean to each other, I worry about their characters.
7. Trying to get kids to do things they don't want to do (like pose for photos). I totally get why it takes 100 or more shots to end up with one decent one of little kids. But my kids aren't so little anymore and I think it's reasonable to get a decent photo without too much difficulty. Yesterday I tried to take Christmas photos of the kids. I was so excited that I found cute matching clothes for them all at 1/2 price and thought our beautiful staircase would make the perfect backdrop. I gave them all a pep talk about how great it would be to have them cooperate and smile nicely and even offered a treat for when we were done. But standing still where you're asked to stand and smiling proved to be an overwhelming challenge for the kids. Eliza started crying because her ponytail was too tight and I wouldn't let her mess with it (and when she cries her face gets all splotchy - not great for pictures...). Oliver said the garland on the stairs was poking him even when he was inches away from it. Silas couldn't stand still to save his soul. Ashton thought it would be a good idea to sit down between takes because it's SO taxing to stand up for a few minutes. Isaac kept bugging Ashton. And when we finally got people situated and bribed and cajoled into being still and smiling nicely, the battery on my camera gave out so everyone had to wait while I charged the thing a bit. Then when I was pretty sure I had some decent takes, I found that the lighting was bad, I'd inadvertently had the flash on creating red-eye in some of the better takes, and Ashton looked weird in every single picture. Here's what I got (check out Ashton - I told him I'd share these on my blog - serves him right!):
Here's the best option. And you know what? If you didn't know the story behind the photo, I bet you'd think it was a pretty darn good photo of some pretty darn cute kids (and one somewhat surly pre-teen...).
I just have to end by saying that while every mom could readily make a sizeable list of the stuff that's downright hard about motherhood, the hard stuff generally makes the good stuff sweeter. Hard and good come hand in hand. I'll keep this hard stuff (and keep working on the stuff I know I can change with more effort) because it comes part and parcel with the good stuff that I wouldn't trade for the world.