Parenting can be exhausting.
I used to think once my children grew out of the baby stage, things would get easier. Then I told myself if we survived through the toddler years, the rest was cake. It became an endless cycle of looking for the next stage – waiting for stages to get easier. The thing I have realized over time is that some things do get easier while other things get more difficult.
Yes! They are out of diapers and I don’t have to carry a diaper bag anymore. But . . . now when they have to go to the bathroom (which is sometimes every single store we step into) I get to walk them in, wait for them to finish, make sure they wipe well, make sure they wash their hands, etc.
Yes! We are finished with nursing and they are moving onto solid foods. But . . . now I have to watch what they eat, try to make sure they don’t eat too much sugar, have to make sure they brush their teeth morning and night.
Everything is a trade off, I suppose. In the beginning we do FOR them and as they grow, we SUPERVISE.
Chris and I recently purchased a business. The kids are pretty much used to my routine as it was something they followed all summer. I have to go to the post office at least once, usually twice a day. Sometimes I have to make at least one, sometimes two trips to Whitefish to deliver paperwork. If I receive a phone call, I need to take it; if I receive an email, I need to answer it.
There are a few exceptions. If we are sitting down together as a family to eat, I will not answer my phone. If I am engaged in a conversation with someone else (for example a checker at the grocery store) I will not answer my phone. But I’m on it. A lot. Not always talking to someone, but sometimes checking my emails or logging onto Facebook to find out the latest and greatest in everyone’s lives.
Chris and I have become weary of our parenting skills and our children’s behavior. Are we letting them spend too much time on electronics? Are we teaching them to respect their elders? Are we encouraging them to eat healthy? Are we helping them develop good communication skills along with empathy and compassion for their friends? Where is the line between showing empathy and compassion and teaching them they are not doormats for others to walk all over?
I have had a rough couple of days in the land of motherhood. Zero patience. Minimal understanding. No motivation or ambition to give it my best and feeling guilty because of all of these things.
We decided to go out for a treat this afternoon. Even things as simple as going out for a treat can sometimes feel like a chore. One person isn’t ready, the others get tired of waiting and find something else to do, then, the one person is ready and everyone else has found something else to occupy them.
We went to Twisted Bliss for frozen yogurt. It was enjoyable, once we arrived. We sat at a small table together and shared stories and laughter. I looked at my phone a couple times, but when I saw I didn’t have any new emails, I left it alone. Chris had his phone out and on the table, but I can’t recall him touching it.
As we got up from our table to leave, a woman who had been sitting at a table slightly behind us walked up to Chris and handed him an envelope.
“I just want to tell you, I have sat here and enjoyed watching you and your family interact with each other. You weren’t on your phones the whole time and it was a pleasure to see you and your children having conversations. I want you to have this.”
Chris accepted the envelope and said, “Thank you,” and as I walked past, I made sure to tell her, “Thank you,” as well. She added, “You’re children are very well behaved.” (As she said this, Micah pretended he was dying and threw himself on the floor right next to her.)
We all said, “Thank you,” one more time and went out to our car. As we drove away, I opened the envelope and found a gift certificate for $20.00. It was made out, “To: A Loving Family; From: Somebody Who loves Seeing Families Sit Together.”
Perhaps there is no rest for the weary – but apparently – there is – frozen yogurt.