Monday, January 19, 2009

The Lessons of Playing Parent

Our nieces and nephew were over again this past weekend (ages 7, 5, 3 and 4). They came over on Saturday and stayed overnight. We took them home on Sunday afternoon, so basically we had them for a full 24 hours.

As always we had a great time with them. They are just so freaking adorable and we love them so much. I keep wishing time would stand still so they didn't have to grow up because they are just so cute at this age.

Anyway, as you know, whenever we have the kids, we have a great time but at the same time it renews our gratefulness for the life we have chosen. They came over at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and by dinner time the entire downstairs was in shambles. Their stuff was everywhere, the kitchen was a disaster area (because we had to feed them and had no time to clean up afterwards). I felt like a grasshopper hopping from room to room and from kid to kid and jumping from this thing to that thing. This one needs something to drink. That one is tugging on the other one and needs to be stopped. This one is banging on the electric piano with the volume on high. Then another one (who cannot be outdone) runs over to my guitar and starts banging on that, so I had to quickly go rescue my precious guitar from abuse.

And on and on it went all day.

At one point, hubby took them upstairs to the third floor to play Twister with them, so this gave me a short break. I lied down on the couch and put on the t.v. - an old episode of The Sopranos was on (one of my favorite series) so I watched that for a few minutes. It only took a couple minutes before I felt myself drifting off to sleep. Now on any other weekend, I would do just that, but on this day I realized that no, I cannot go to sleep - the kids will be downstairs in a few minutes so don't bother getting comfortable. And sure enough, it was only a few minutes before they came downstairs like a herd of elephants. Of course, I immediately shut off The Sopranos (way too unsuitable for childrens' eyes) and sprang back into action.

I realized that what sucks most about being a parent is that you must always be ON. You never get time to shut down (except when you go to sleep at night). Your mind must always be hyper alert and at attention. It can't drift. You can't be spontaneous and do things on a whim. Everything must be controlled and organized all the time. You must always be in reaction mode - observant and on your toes. You are not really present in yourself - you exist in answer to others and in reaction to their actions. You are a handservant. There's no daydreaming, no wandering thoughts, no introspection, no napping or lounging, no just being. I barely had any meaningful conversation with hubby the entire time the kids were over. After 24 hours with the kids, I can feel myself getting resentful about not having these things that I so take for granted. I resent the indigestion I get when I eat with them and can see why my friend has lost so much weight to the point of looking malnurished. I can understand why my sister-in-law is in a miserable mood all the time, and why my brother looks like a beaten dog most of the time. I resent having every bit of energy pulled out of me by these little creatures whose needs seem to be endless and infinite.

I always say to hubby after these forays with the kids - "Thank GOD we made the decision we made. I just can't imagine living this life every single day." A day here and there is fun and novel and exciting. But if I had to live this way every day I would turn into a completely different person (and certainly not a person anyone would want to be around!)


Steph said...

My mother has two children 20 years younger than me and I am exhausted every time I spend a day with them. Granted they are really obnoxious and bratty as well.
I always wonder how she deals with them every single day.
Even my sister and I, her two quietest kids, were enough to make her not want to go to a store for two years at one point. It was just too much of a hassle. I often wonder if I am cut out for such a life or should just embrace the quiet life I have.

Gumby said...

You know, I think I'd probably go insane if I had to live like that every day.

That really doesn't sound like much fun...

Childfreeeee said...

I agree with you guys. I honestly just cannot see the appeal of that lifestyle.

Me said...

My husband and I take care of my niece and nephew (6 and 4) two days a week. Last week at our marriage counseling session my husband told me that he's noticed how stressed I am when we have the kids... which is true... I have been thinking about that session a lot over the last few days...

firefly said...

Ha ha! Good post.

That explains why my mom used to kick us outdoors to play at every opportunity :-)