Thanks to the availability of that repost button, and the inevitably harried scrolling through social media of parents everywhere at odd hours, there is a steady flow of the somewhat sarcastic, depressing memes about parenthood.
I’m going to give you my answers to this question.
Here’s the thing: I know we all love our kids dearly, and we’re all probably driven to distraction by them at times too. I don’t actually think that the people who create or repost these memes actually believe what they’re posting. “It’s just meant to be silly.” “It’s just sarcasm.” “It’s just funny because it’s a little bit true.” But I think these memes speak to a different problem: a disparate tendency to view our children and the precious relationship of parenthood as a drudgery. We may think we only post in jest, but when a thought is nurtured every week, or every day, or every time a new meme starts making the rounds, it becomes an attitude.
I’m not denying that parenthood is full of challenges. I’m saying that we should stop with the negativity and actually focus on what we love about parenthood and those marvelous creatures we call children. Being sarcastic and negative is “in” right now. We say we’re “being real” and focus on the sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, and volatile emotions of young children. But is that really what we want to leave for our kids? A record that only shows how difficult and terrible our life with them was? Of course not! When Sophia discovers my blog in 10 years (or maybe sooner) I don’t want her to read through a bunch of diatribing posts. I don’t want her main takeaway to be, “Wow, parenthood is really terrible. I’m awful. Look how tired and sad and angry Mom was!” Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s time to make the narrative positive.
Here are 5 best things about having 3 kids under the age of 5.
1. There is always something to laugh at. Under 5 is the best age for laughing. Tickling is still funny. Clapping rhymes are hilarious. My kids are delighted by my terrible dancing skills. I am delighted by their unique, unfettered narrative of the world around them.
2. I get to give them their first experiences of so many wonderful things. How incredible is it to be the person who gets to give someone their first chocolate or Reddiwhip? It gets better than food. Bubbles, cheesy magic tricks, favorite movies, silly voices, childhood games, Christmas traditions… the list goes on! My superman and I get the awesome privilege of showing them everything we love about life.
3. I get to witness firsthand the development of their relationships with each other. I hope that they will be the best of friends through all of life, but I get to watch them while they actually ARE. The relationship they have right now is fascinating. It’s equal parts tender, nurturing, educational, sweet, and cooperative. They’re learning how to enjoy mingling levels of ability and how to solve social conflicts.
5. They give the best neck hugs and snuggles. There is just nothing better in the world than snuggling with a small child in the morning, and at reading time, and at nap time, and after naptime, and before bed.
In conclusion, having kids has challenged me, stretched me, and given me a depth of joy and fulfillment that I could never have known in those hazy years BK (before kids). The joys far outweigh the challenges, and I wouldn’t give back a single minute if I could. This time is fleeting. They’re only little for a few short years. When they’re grown and flying off into their own lives, I’ll have the memory of these years. I’ll look at the curves of their smiles and remember the soft baby cheeks, arms, and legs that filled my arms for such a short moment. I’ll listen to the jokes they tell, and marvel at the things they learn, and remember their first laughs and first discoveries. The sleepless nights will be forgotten. The memory of toddler angst, fights, and tantrums will buried so deeply in all the best memories, that when my own grandkids and great grandkids act out, I’ll just smile and remember this.