The Real Story: Raising Kids One Day at a Time

9 Feb
Jack looking cleaner than usual

It’s 6:30 a.m. and I have already launched into a fight with my seven-year old. We all have days we wake up on the wrong side of the bed but my youngest seems to have more than others. To add to it he’s not a morning person, so the dreadful wake-up routine ensues. This morning it starts with the clothes as he wants to wear an orange plaid shirt with blue and green sweat pants and two different socks. I invision  all the cute girls in his class that show up in the perfect matching outfit to school with hair brushed, headbands, and  shiny shoes. Failure, I think. What am I doing wrong? The battle isn’t worth pursuing though so I let it go hoping that people won’t look at him and think, “Wow, his parents certainly are not on the ball”.

He sits at the kitchen table with me arguing about breakfast options. My offerings: oatmeal, cereal with fruit, toast with peanut butter or yogurt with granola.  His choice, a Z bar with rootbeer.  Why did I keep the rootbeer from the party we had the weekend before, I wonder.  Now I’m never going to hear the end of this.  As I try to explain the importance of nutrition I make a mental note that part of my morning should probably be spent looking up blogs about eating and kids. I desperately need tricks to manage Jack’s eating patterns. I feel like I’ve read a million articles, apparently I haven’t hit on the right one.

My youngest is persistent and decides that he will not take his medication this morning. Every day I try to multi-task while I care for my kids but the reality is I’d best be served by just stopping everything and solely focusing on them. I know many of you have been there. You have aspirations of getting a lot done while caring for children but the reality is if you check even one thing off your list, it’s impressive.

I start daydreaming and am reminded of the days when my boys were very young.  My husband would arrive home at the end of the day and see me on the couch exhausted. “What did you do today?” he’d ask. “Uhhhh, the dishes”, I’d respond. I figured that was actually a pretty big accomplishment back then. I still wonder if the women I see with 2 and 3 very young children, all dressed up, lunching, clean house, in-shape, and smiling are really doing it all themselves.  If they are I clearly need advice, as my children are now nearing seven and ten and I still can’t seem to manage every one of those aspects all at the same time. Some days I’m dressed up but the house is a mess. Other days I’m out in sweats and a hat, but I’m caught up on work. I meet friends for lunch but I forewarn them I’m coming from hot yoga so it’s really their choice if they want to sit at the same table as me. My shower will have to wait till the evening.

The moments you remember

I’m trying to remember every day that these days will pass. People tell me I’m going to miss this someday. I’ll want these moments back. So, every once in a while I just stop and stare. It might be a moment that I hear their laugh, that I see them pick an instrument and begin to play for the sheer joy of it, maybe it’s seeing them help each other out when they think I am not looking. Those are the moments that I hold on to. I remind myself that taking care of me is equally as important as taking care of them. The only chance I have at being a good mom is balancing that. My husband will walk through the door at the end of the day and I’ll be standing two feet away. “Nice seeing you, I’m going now”. Albeit, this isn’t exactly how I envisioned it. My younger years will filled with images of the perfect children, who never talked backed, who showed up at school perfectly put together with healthy meals that they choose and were not forced to eat. I imagined myself cooking in a beautiful well-decorated home, laundry done, wreath on the door, the smell of fresh-baked cookies when you enter. Hello Stepford wives!  Honestly, what was I thinking? The real vision of me, flying out the door, two different shoes, trying desperately to balance a new career with raising a family. On good days my house is clean, I wear the perfect outfit on occasion, but it’s never usually on a day when I run into someone I know. I sprint into Target for groceries, no make-up, coming from the gym and typically see at least 5 people I know. My youngest has mismatched socks at school, my oldest has told me three days in a row he needs new underwear as he has grown so much he can barely breathe in the ones he has.

The guilty mom syndrome is brutal. I can’t imagine anyone who has had kids hasn’t experienced this. It’s an on-going challenge of taking care of yourself and taking care of others. Parenting is a constant reminder for me of the ways in which I feel selfish. Despite my ability to encourage others to prioritize their needs and recognize that there shouldn’t be guilt associated with it, I still experience guilt myself. I suspect I always will.

Somehow amid the chaos we all manage to get through the day. I lean heavily on the people I know who have raised kids and always ask for advice. The best thing they have said, “Just do what you need to do to get through the day”. We all have unique experiences as parents; however, I think many of us imagined it a bit differently in our head when we were younger. My ten year old told me the other day he wanted to go live with another family, that no one here loved him. This right after we spent the day mini-golfing with he and his friend, taking them to yogurt, and going to Toy R Us so that he could buy a new DS game. Really?

I must do my best to remember my children, although they are not babies, are still little. Raising kids is not supposed to be easy. I get that now. The reward in it is the devotion you put in over the years. It becomes your ability to love without boundaries, to accept what who they are and work within that to raise them to be amazing people.

Who do you most connect with Kim? I’m asked that sometimes. I guess the answer for me now-a-days. Leave your perfection at the door and we will get along just fine.

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3 Responses to “The Real Story: Raising Kids One Day at a Time”

  1. James patrick February 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Wow – one of your best articles. Extraordinarily well written and very personal. Good for you for taking the risk to put this out there.

  2. Anna February 19, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    Wow, loved this….just how I feel!! Thanks for this blog.

    • The Modern Me March 18, 2012 at 2:49 am #

      Thanks so much! It’s so nice to know others can relate.

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