Remember this mailman for later. I’ll come back to him.
The other day I was in a conversation with a single woman discussing the prospect of having kids with me. Her words went like this.
“I just don’t know if I want kids. I mean, all the parents I know seem so stressed out all of the time. And kids. They are just so, so demanding. And messy. And take away the ability to do anything YOU want.
I mean, it sounds bad, but I really like my freedom. And I just don’t understand why someone would want to give up their freedom? And sleep. For that matter.
And pregnancy. Yuck. It makes you fat. And sick. And hormonal. It just doesn’t sound appealing. At all.”
As I was listening to her, I found myself quickly wanting to refute all her arguments against parenthood. Being that I willingly chose to have three little guys of my own. And that I claim to love it.
But just as I started to tell her why I disagreed with what she was saying, I had a strange realization.
I didn’t disagree.
In fact, I felt her observations about the whole parenting, kid, pregnancy cycle were pretty much spot-on accurate. In fact, when she brought up the whole miserable pregnancy thing, I found myself struggling to hold back a, “H@!! yeah!”
Which led me to ask myself, “Why DO I love being a parent so much?”
And why DO so many of us jump off the parenting cliff when we well know it has so many challenging aspects about it?
The Down Side to Parenting
Case in point.
Just last night not 1, not 2 but all 3 of my sons were up in the night for some reason needing me. And when I woke up in the morning, I literally felt like I had never been to sleep. Like maybe a 15-minute nap with someone kicking me in my face throughout 12 minutes of it.
And on the blessed subject of sleep, if I’m blatantly honest with myself, I would say I haven’t had more than a few weeks here and there of good, quality, wake-up-the-morning-feeling-rested sleep since the birth of my first son five years ago (one of which was a week I had the flu).
Which also leads me to the fact that the lack of sleep (and 3 pregnancies) has most definitely taken a toll on my body. Since the birth of my youngest son. I look older. Much older. And sweet people keep trying to tell me. “Oh, no. Those fine lines and wrinkles have always been there. You’re just looking for them now that you’ve hit the 3o mark. It’s just something our psyche does to us. ”
But I’m like, “Ummm. No. I don’t have time to shower. Let alone deeply examine my face in a mirror. If I am seeing wrinkles. It’s not because they are are a figment of my imagination. It’s because they are noticeable even in the 10-second glance I give myself before dropping my son off at preschool. ” :)
And if I really allow myself to dwell on those statements for the 30 free seconds I have before I have a little one needing my attention, I guess I would have to say that DOES probably sound pretty pathetic. And depressing to an outsider.
And on that note of being needed constantly, I wouldn’t say I live the most spontaneous or self-centered life. I mean if the hubs and I get a whim to go out on a date, we have three options. Find a babysitter. Take the kids with us and likely have a loud, chaotic meal or stay home. Which means our desire for spontaneity on a weekend typical turns into pizza and a Disney movie with our kids.
And that is really crazy to think that the last spontaneous date we were able to take was when I was 9 months pregnant with our first son and so big I could hardly fit in the booth. Which reminds me how miserable pregnancy is.
Oh, Lord. And don’t get me started that since the end of my last pregnancy I have an on again off again relationship with the bulk of my jeans and the verdict is still out as to whether the ring in my jewelry box was actually sized for my finger…I still think it isn’t my ring.
So this is why she’s confused. So this is why she thinks we’re all miserable.
Maybe we (me) as parents sometimes are really good about sharing the challenges but forget to share all the amazing parts that keep us going.
So here goes. Here is why I choose to be a parent.
I love parenting because of THE MAILMAN in my kitchen today.
Say what about a mailman?
He is the reason I LOVE doing this.
You see, when I walked in to my kitchen today to see him all dressed up. I was immediately filled with love. A different kind of love from romantic love. But a type of love that is equally powerful. Maybe even more powerful.
Why you ask in that moment was I overwhelmed with love?
Well to be specific about that moment. Here are just a few reasons. His height. The way he was standing. His shaggy hair. The blanket on the floor next to him that comforts him. The fact that he is mine and lives with me. The fact that he thinks it is cool and fun to dress up every day. The fact that he loves airplanes. The fact that he has grown up enough to wake up from nap and quietly walk into the kitchen without me knowing.
All of those things. Fill me up with love. An addictive, my-cup-runneth-over burst-at-the-seams type of love.
And the best part about it is…that feeling normally happens several times in a day in some moment that is so cute. So funny. So fulfilling that it is hard to put into words. Another one just occurred when my baby’s thighs were too chunky to fit in a seat. And another happened last night when my oldest son chose to sleep on the floor next to me while I blogged.
That love sensation happens constantly.
And it’s real. And it’s powerful. And it keeps me coming back for more. Even when I’m sleep deprived. And dealing with cranky little ones. Or meltdowns. Or houses that are destroyed in five minutes by toys. Or any of the other aforementioned stresses that come with having kids.
And do I feel more stressed since having kids?
Well. I don’t know fully. I don’t feel that way. But maybe I have more stressful moments. Maybe not.
But what I do know about myself is that since having kids, I am more laidback than I used to be and my sense of humor has grown exponentially. Having stressful moments with them has taught me to roll with the punches and to not take things so seriously. Because just like a bad meltdown, bad moments quickly pass away and good moments quickly follow. (For most days. :) And laughter is the best medicine for all of it.
So I laugh a lot. With them. Without them. I laugh. And I love it. (Hey, maybe that is where those fine lines are coming from? :)
Watching my kids grow has taught me how quickly life passes and why it is worth it to enjoy the big and small moments. To savor each developmental phase. Because they pass quickly. Even miserable stages like teething. Or a house full of sick little people that are not independent enough to do anything but whine to you.
I am sometimes in the middle of the stereo crying actually able to savor it. Because I know it will be quickly gone. And it symbolizes this short phase of life where they really need me, which will be quickly followed by the phase where they want nothing to do with me.
And the innocence and creativity and imagination they bring to my life? It invigorates me. And gives me fresh perspective on things that 30 years of life may have tainted. And I thank them for that. ( I mean, why do we stop dressing up? Wasn’t it so fun?)
Anyway. My list of why I chose to take the giant leap into motherhood and continued with it two other times could go on and on.
But for now. I will leave you with this as my answer to why I chose to have kids.
Parenting is hard. And has many challenges. True story.
But no amount of clean rooms, tight abs, wrinkle free faces, and rested morning could ever give me the joyous love I felt today when I stumbled upon my little mailman.
Scripture says, “Perfect love casts out all fear.” I John 4:1
In the case of parenting, “Perfect love casts out all fear of losing freedom or sleep.” (On most days anyway. :)
That’s the part we haven’t shared with you. The latter erases the former. At the end of the day. The crud we complain about is cast out. And forgotten. (At least until the same things happens again the next day.)
And we are just left with the LOVE.
A love that is so powerful, so perfect, I find myself feeling the need to thank God for it. (Even if I didn’t know Him, I think I’d have this urge.)
A love so perfect, I find myself feeling closer to God because of it.
Because He IS love. Which makes perfect sense why the feeling is so addictive. And logic defying.
And misery erasing 99.9 % of the time.
(The 0.1 % is reserved for the days when they puke in your mouth. No amount of love erases that evil.)
I would love to hear what your favorite things about being a parent is. #whyiloveparenting
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