I read a great article recently about parenting where they mentioned that it was 90% work and 10% meaningful fun. I suppose that’s one of the biggest surprises about parenting is how much work it truly is. I spend more hours of my day cleaning, cooking, doing the laundry and dishes, than I do interacting with Charley. He watches way too much TV since I’m exhausted and pregnant, and in those tiring afternoon hours when he’s not napping I think I’ve failed at it all. (Although he is learning quite a lot about trucks.) But then we have these small moments that are worth everything. The other evening after a tumultuous afternoon nap where he woke up crabby and I did too, we turned off the TV and went to the playroom. Before kids I wanted to be one of those cool stay at home moms that came up with fun crafts and cooked with her kids all the time. The reality is that I am so exhausted I occasionally let him help bake something, but usually I just make peanut butter and jelly. And crafts, forget it. The second I think about attempting one of those quaint glitter-covered paper pumpkins on Pinterest, all I can picture is the massive amount of clean-up that will be involved. But the other night I set it all aside, grabbed some craft paper and traced Charley’s hand to make little turkeys. I didn’t use glitter or glue, just crayons and paper, and the whole thing lasted about ten minutes before he was bored. But in those ten minutes when the Christmas music was playing and the windows were open with a cool breeze (we live in Florida, this is our best time) I was happy.
Even yesterday, I had this funny déjà vu moment of remembering my childhood. We were out on the porch, eating cut sandwiches of ham and cheese and pretzels in little snack baggies. Charley was in his bright red and yellow Fisher Price car, the same one my parents have photos of me in when I was a child, and I thought about being a little kid on the beach, eating sandwiches and Cheetos that my dad packed me for lunch. The moment was sad and happy at the same time. It was the realization that I was no longer in that place, but I was slowly finding that place for myself.
I often fall into the trap of feeling like I could be doing more. More of anything; more cooking, more teaching, more sex. That I could be less tired all the time, and try harder. It’s tough to feel like you are constantly not living up to your parenting expectations. But then I think back to all my favorite memories, and I’m sure those were the rare 10%. So perhaps that’s all they really remember anyway. I hope.