Before I became a parent, I would go to the homes of my friends and family members who had kids and gaze in wonder at the level of destruction. Even the homes that were clean and tidy still showed signs of wreckage — broken couch springs, cabinet doors slightly off their hinges, dining tables with fork marks. I assumed that the parents I knew were just “hands-off” types or had wild, unruly children.
Then I had my own kids, and I learned that you don’t have to be hands-off or have wild kids in order for your stuff to get destroyed. And it’s not just your furniture that they break — there are many things kids destroy simply by being kids.
It’s not so much that our children have broken their toys as much as they’ve made it impossible for anyone else to use them. Between scribbling their backwards-lettered names on them in Sharpie, giving their dolls a “makeover” complete with haircut and “makeup” (how do they always find a Sharpie?!), and losing half the pieces of every multi-piece game or toy, I don’t think we’ve been able to hand down any toys outside of the family since our oldest was 2.
Between our three kids, we’ve had one wall writer — which is a pretty good ratio, I think. But they’ve all been wall wipers. Have you ever taken a good, close look at the walls in your house? Don’t do it. You’ll never get over it. In addition to boogers and smears I refuse to believe aren’t chocolate, I sometimes find footprints on the wall. Footprints. Are my children X-Men? Do they have some mutant superpower that lets them walk on walls? I think not. And yet, there they are.
My Definition of “Clean”
Speaking of dirty walls, my standards for what “clean” means have taken a beating since I had kids. There’s the house, of course. I gave up trying to keep up with handprints on the glass years ago, and I’m not even sure if I can see dust anymore, it’s so far down on my priority list. And then there are the kids themselves. Do you smell? No. Are you visibly dirty? No. Have you bathed this week? You think so. Okay, you’re fine.
People always say that becoming a parent teaches you patience, but I think those people are smoking something special. I was a much more patient person before I had kids. Maybe it’s just that my patience gets tested much more often, so I’m more aware of it. Or maybe it’s that my nerve endings are totally frayed after more hearing “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama,” being rattled off like a machine gun all day every day for more than a decade. That might be it.
My Ability to Watch the News
First of all, little kids don’t need to be hearing about who was murdered today. And second of all, I can’t take it. The news is basically just horrible stories and evidence that the world I brought my kids into seems to be going to hell in a hand basket. Why would I subject myself to that?
My Illusions of Perfect Parenting
This one needs no commentary. Except maybe bwaahaaahaahaaaa!
Oh, my heart. A mother’s heart bursts daily — with love, joy, worry, pain. I walk around silently exploding inside all the time. The love I have for these children stretches my heart to its limit. The joy when they giggle or triumph or melt into my body makes me wonder if my ticker might seriously burst. The anxiety over their safety and my incompetency rattles my heart like an earthquake sometimes. The pain of watching them have to learn hard lessons, experience their own heartaches, and leave childhood behind feels like I’m physically breaking inside. I’m not sure how my heart even continues to function in the face of all of it.
So yes, kids break things. But the truth is that not everything that kids destroy needs to be kept pristine. I’m thankful to have my illusions dashed and my heart broken wide open on a daily basis. The walls? Meh. They wash. The toys? They were well-loved. My patience I’d like back, but that’s more on me than on them. And the news? That’s mostly garbage anyway.
So go on with your wrecking ball selves, kids. We’ll fix what needs fixing, and the rest we will embrace as the beautiful brokenness of parenthood.