“I’m so tired, I’ve forgotten how to spell the word tried.” (Google search of “parenting” + “tired” + “quote”)
I am tired. I am counting down the hours to ending my active parenting. It’s been 25++ years. I am sitting on the floor, covered in empty boxes, and about to sleep on a futon that has been through three other college students.
When I think back to active parenting, I have:
- used q-tips covered in alcohol carefully for 10 days on each of four babies’ umbilical cords until that gross thing turned black and fell off
- grocery shopped with four children under seven (it was like taking four goats to the store…I “kid” you not…get it? get it? I “kid” you not)
- sorted legos into bags by color, size and type at least 52 times (to be exact)
- played Ms. PacMan on Nintendo 64 surrounded by eight excited eyes until I beat all the levels and killed the witch
- kept Pokemon cards carefully in plastic sleeves inside of books and monitored whose cards were whose
- filled out back-to-school forms until my eyes twitched and my hands curled up in agony (can’t this be computerized people?)
- packed 180 (# of days in a school year) X 4 (# of kids in this house) X 13 (# of school years in the life of an average child) lunches (for you math heads, that’s 9,360)
- created chore charts, memory verse charts, learn-to-pee-and-poop-on-the-potty charts, and behavior charts, all complete with stickers and prizes
- watched (or at least heard from the kitchen) ad nauseum reruns from the Disney Channel, Nick Jr., PBS, Cartoon Network and now Netflix
- coached and watched basketball, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, wrestling, field hockey, swimming, track, volleyball, and softball (I’m pretty sure our records for all of those sports combined was .500 exactly)
- listened to piano, clarinet, bassoon, guitar, and recorders (some of it, shall I say, “more pleasing to the ear” than others)
- gone to the doctor, dentist, oral surgeon, voice therapist, orthodontist, counselor, ENT, orthopedic surgeon and emergency room enough that I felt like I should have “frequent shopper cards” (buy 10 visits, get one free)
- planned themed birthday parties each year complete with specialized decorations and games (Pin the Tail on Pikachu anyone?)
- endured graduations from preschool to middle school to high school to college (best memory is Josh and I rolling our eyes across the gym at Rachel during her 8th grade graduation…don’t judge me)
- driven at least 5 or 6 times the distance of the globe to practices, lessons, youth groups, parties, play dates, school, and girl/boyfriend’s houses (you parents out there feel my pain as you read this)
- broken up 3,247 fights over paper-cup lids, halloween candy, bathroom etiquette (or lack thereof), and on and on and on
- taught (or I should say freaked out in the passenger’s seat) four teens how to drive
- moved four kids in and out of college dorms and college apartments (one night I actually slept on bath mats…it was the softest thing I could find in Jared’s apartment)
You can see why I’m tired. 25++ active years of this.
About six months ago, I felt done. Yes. Done. After all, Rachel was independent, easy, and didn’t really need me anymore. Could I get out of this parenting thing early? Loved that thought for a moment. Relished it. And then some force within me rose up and put a stop to that thinking (it had to because it was running amok).
I made this promise to myself (and made the same one for Allen, whether he liked it or not): “I am going to end my parenting well. Rachel deserves the same parent the other kids got until the day they skipped out the door to their dorm rooms.” I can’t say that it was perfectly executed by any means after that or that I just had all the exact amount of love and energy I needed to do this every moment of every day. But you know what, I did do it. And it was good.
Good. That is all that was needed. Not perfect, but good. I have no idea and I am super grateful for whatever rose up inside of me to keep fighting the good fight until the very last picture was hung, Walmart kitchen table built (complete with chairs) and Bed Bath and Beyond order picked up. And I do have the proof: I am sitting on the floor, covered in boxes, about to sleep on a very well-worn futon. I have ended well.
But (SURPRISE!!! you thought this blog post was over) it does not really end. Love does not end. It changes, but does not end. My hands may be less busy (I am seriously praying this is true), but my heart will never be. My heart is bigger and wider and busier than ever before. Love does not end. It multiplies.
And guess what. Big news.
On or about the beginning of November, a new baby boy will be born to our Sarah and her husband Cody. And the cycle of love will begin again, and actually, it already has.
(an aside for those of you still in the thick of it: you are doing great! you will make it! it will be okay! and yes, it is very hard and very worth it! you are a super hero!)