I remember being one of those people before I had kids. A child would act out in a public, whether it be a restaurant, a grocery store or church, I didn’t care: my child was not going to act out like yours.
Fast forward 4 years – I am in sweatpants because it’s pretty much all the fits, 2 years after having my son and still blaming it on “baby weight” – and a shirt that’s probably my husband’s because it covers the top portion of my bum. My hair is still wet from a quick shower I managed to take and I’m wearing a sports bra because really, who am I trying to impress? I am holding a kid in each hand, still arguing with my 4 year old about why I didn’t stop at Starbucks for a chocolate milk, and no, we are not going to Target instead so you can have popcorn. Wal-Mart is the only place that carries my favorite wine. How sad is that? And here’s where karma really gets me – after placing my calm, laid back, younger child in the little two legged holes that his legs can barely slide into anymore, I lift my 4 year old who starts whining because she doesn’t want to sit in the cart. She wants to run. Wildly. Around the entire store. The next 45 minutes of my grocery trip is made up of arguments and a bunch of “I miss my daddy” speeches while my 2 year old starts getting bored and crying for a veggie pouch, which I open in the middle of the store and stick in his mouth, because for the love of Pete, I am not dealing with both of them. Don’t even get me started about church on Sundays when my daughter doesn’t get a sucker after class.
If I could go back to that 20 year old girl who was sneering and eye-rolling at kids who act out in restaurants, I’d slap her.
A couple at a restaurant recently asked to be moved away from us because our son was squealing (karma again). You can always spot the people who don’t have kids vs. the ones who do. The ones who don’t have children are the people who are genuinely enjoying the company of the person they’re with, having an adult conversation about politics (or whatever it is adults talk about these days), while I am talking about my daughter’s favorite Disney princess (for the current day) and staring at my husband, bleary-eyed and finding comfort that he’s staring back at me in the same way.
It changes you and not just in a, holy crap, I really, really love this tiny human I created, but in a, what the heck did I do to my life? kind of way.
I barely make it through each day, counting down the hours to bedtime and praying that my kids sleep through the night. Sugar plums do not dance in my head. Instead, it’s all the people that told me, “you’re going to miss this when they’re gone.” I lay in bed, refraining from slapping my husband in his snoring-glory because he’s sleeping peacefully. I ask myself, “will I? Will I miss this?” Why would I miss the sleepless nights? Or waking up to a small person standing at the side of my bed demanding breakfast? Will I really miss not being able to shower without hearing the kids yelling from another room?
But here’s the thing. After I’ve slapped the 20 year old version of myself, next I’d tell her: in the midst of chaos and running on empty all the time… in between the arguing and the never having a conversation with an adult, the planning of vacations, the never buying things for yourself, and only seeing your husband after the kids are down for the night, you will find your peace. It’s never going to be a quiet peace. Your life will not be quiet for a really, really long time and there’s going to be a lot of times when you question why you’ve chosen this life. And when you’ve found your chaotic peace, when the entire house is finally asleep and you’re alone, you realize… you will miss this. One day, when you’re not so tired, you’ll crave for these times to slow down. Let them be little, please. Don’t rush them because you have some place you want to go. Let your daughter stomp in rain puddles and let your son climb the fireplace, because that’s how they live and how you learn.