A few years ago I met a couple who had a six month old. In the course of our conversation, they said something about how parenting is easy, especially for them because they both grew up in really good families. I tried to keep a straight face, but the thoughts that went through my head went something like this: "Did she seriously just say that? What planet are they from? Should I break the news that their sweet baby is going to make them pull their hair out in about a year and a half?"
Because, people, this parenting gig isn't what I would call easy.
Take yesterday in my house as an example:
There were three pee accidents. Three.
After one of those accidents, I put our littlest Little in the tub. He loved it. He loved emptying the entire (brand new) bottle of kid shampoo into the tub. Why, I asked myself, why did I splurge for the "all-natural, free of all the cancer causing chemicals that the other brands have" shampoo?
This normally very happy three year old later got angry because I cut his bagel wrong (which was, I might add, exactly how he asked me to cut it). Bagel and jam were thrown across the dining room floor, spots of jam splattered on the wall. And then the kid sobbed for a good 15 minutes while I held him. When he stopped sobbing, he screamed at me that he wanted his bagel. There was even a moment when, after he picked up the pieces of bagel and threw them away, he sobbed again and tried to fetch them out of the garbage to eat.
The five year old had yet another tummy ache and laid down on the floor of the school hallway when I went to pick her up. She declared (loudly and angrily) that she is never going to school again.
And then there's the seven year old who got into a fight with her sister over a crumpled piece of paper. Yes, you read that right. My kids were literally close to throwing punches over a crumpled piece of paper that had NOTHING on it. It wasn't a piece of art that she had worked on for hours. It wasn't a note from her BFF. It was a blank piece of crumpled paper.
I might have handled the bagel situation like a pro. And I managed to get the 5 year old back to school today, so I consider that a win. But I did lose it over the paper fight. I had to apologize to my kids for not handling it so well.
Some days are just hard. If you have kids, chances are you have some stories of the hard days. The days when they melt down because you gave them milk in a green cup instead of a purple cup. Or you take them into the store to pick up one or two things and end up being the reason for the announcement blaring overhead, "Wet clean-up in aisle 5."
I feel ya.
Those are the days when it's important to have a stash of chocolate and a subscription to Netflix. And a bathroom door that locks. And friends that allow us to vent for a few minutes.
Even though my five year old walked a block home from school today in just her sock feet (and, people, it's cold here) I'm trying to remember in the hard stuff that being a parent is a gift. I'm trying to offer grace, not just to my kids, but to myself. To forgive and seek forgiveness. To learn to laugh at myself. And to say yes when someone offers to help.
We're learning as we go, all of us.
Solidarity, my fellow parents, solidarity.
(And, parents of young kids, let's be honest, these days are hard, but we know that the really hard stuff is coming in a few more years).
Okay, now tell me about your funniest hard days with kids in the comments section.