This week I had a conversation with another mom. She said something like this, "You moms with lots of kids amaze me. I only have a few and it's insane at my house sometimes!"
Honey, it's insane at my house pretty much all the time. In fact, more often than not it is complete chaos. People seem to think I have everything under control with my six kids. It's true that I am an organized person. I thrive on discipline and routine. I like things to be clean. Not just hide-the-clutter-because-a-guest-is-coming-over clean. I like it white glove clean. I like the closets, under the beds, the spice cabinet, the medicine cabinet, and all those other hidden places to be organized and clean too. (Note: my house is not always this clean but I would love it to be this clean and strive to keep it as clean as I can.)
I scrubbed my baseboards, doors and door frames today because the little dark marks that are left by too many hands and feet were bothering me. After I was done, I felt I had accomplished something fantastic. Most likely, nobody will even notice anything is different, but it made me feel different to have it done. I felt cleaner, more organized, and more in control of my world.
I love the Bill Cosby routine where he talks about parents and justice. He talks about a crying child coming to a parent about a sibling taking a toy and how unfair it is. He says, "We don't care about justice! We just want quiet!" That is the story of my life.
I am nervous that you admire me. I want you to know, that as amazing as I may seem because I am juggling six kids, I am not all that amazing. I yell way too much. I sometimes hide in my closet.
I realize you probably look at me in awe because you struggle with your one, two or three. I struggled when I had one, two, and three. Parenting is grueling, exhausting, thanklessly difficult work that many people take for granted. Everyone has a parent. Many people who have never been a parent look back on their own parents and probably don't realize how taxing of a job it was. Maybe their parents made it look easy or made it look like the parenting aspect of everything they did was a side thing. I know I had such thoughts before I was a parent. Now, with my six, I admire my mom even more for all she did for us. I certainly didn't appreciate her at the time. But now I recognize that she probably gave up sleep, spent many nights and days worrying about us, gave up money by having more kids, and many, many other things.
I have six kids. That doesn't make me a parenting genius. The only thing that I am genius at is realizing how hard parenting is and how hard we sometimes make it for each other. We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to parenting. Maybe some people don't keep a spotless house but some do. I have read articles pointing fingers at moms who do keep houses clean and implying that they must not be focused enough on their kids because their houses are so clean. If they're like me, they can't focus until the house is clean. Then they are much more relaxed and better at their job. Maybe some people keep a spotless house and can't understand how one can function in a home that's not clean. I know several moms who don't keep a clean house but they do amazing things with their kids and are much more relaxed about certain things than I am.
We are all different. We need to stop making parenting a competition and a war. Yes, we all should strive to do the best job possible, but my best job might look different than your best job.
So, mom with less than six kids, I may make it look easy because you struggle with three, and right now, three would be easier for me, but when I had three, I struggled with that too. We are on the same road. Let's help each other out along the way.