Parenting is littered with irony. From the beautiful messes to the laughs through the tears, I’m always amazed at how raising kids can be both incredibly awesome and ridiculously hard at the same time. Here are some ironies I’ve discovered in the last ten years.
1. All the words.
When all of my children were babies, I would practice speech with them. “Say, mama. Come on, you can do it. Ma-ma. Ma-ma.” Hearing my name for the first time, or watching them laugh and say uh-oh when their cup would fall off the highchair, was a special joy. I eagerly anticipated each new word, and was over the moon when they would finally start stringing sentences together. Fast forward a few years, and I find myself constantly asking them to be quiet. “Shhhh…Mommy needs some quiet. It’s 6:30 and I haven’t had my coffee, PLEASE tell me about your dream and your day and your best friend’s cat later.”
2. Treats and toys and gifts, oh my!
I don’t know if your family is like this, but we sometimes save and save to get special treats for our kids. Sometimes it’s a coveted toy, or a trip somewhere, or even a holiday celebration. We anticipate the happiness the gift will bring our kids, and look forward to seeing their faces when they realize what we’ve done. And then it’s 2:00am, someone screamed from a nightmare, and I put my bare foot down on a landmine of legos. That’s it, it’s time to purge. I don’t care if it was a $300 special edition set.
3. Extra curricular activities.
When my first daughter was three, we signed her up for soccer at our church. Her dad was the coach, and all of the grandparents would come to each game. Sometimes Layla would chase the ball for all she was worth, and sometimes she would stand in the field and catch lady bugs. Either way, we would love watching. These days, between volleyball and swim lessons and ballet and bible study, a lot of that bloom has faded. Gwendolyn (the four year old) had her first gymnastics class the other day. I loved watching her smile on the trampoline, but I’m not gonna lie, I kept fantasizing about my soft couch and a good book while checking my watch to see that we would make it to Girl Scouts on time.
4. Giving them rules only to have them catch you breaking them.
Me: Ok kids, we seriously need to start putting our dirty clothes in the hamper when we change at the end of the day. I’m tired of picking up clothes from the floor.
Me: Remember how I said we’re responsible for putting our clothes in the hamper? Take care of that, please.
Me: The bathroom counter is not your clothes hamper!
Layla: Hey Moooommmmm! Your pajama pants are on your bed. Last I checked that’s not your clothes hamper.
Over the years we’ve paid hundreds and hundreds of dollars on professional pictures. School pictures, family sessions, Christmas pictures…those things add up. We’ve posed in studios, on old porches, near barns and next to lakes. We’ve bought color coordinated outfits and paid for large prints. But our favorite pictures, the ones that we have framed all over the house, aren’t the expensive portraits with the perfect lighting (although we like those too!). They’re the silly ones, the spontaneous ones, the ones that show crazy personality and tender hugs. Totally free, but priceless.