Want to stay humble?
Have a boatload of kids.
One minute you’re cool and feel like you’ve got it all together—then suddenly you’re sopping up toilet water or stripping your child in front of a plane full of strangers, due to a diarrhea incident.
I had a really great day. Life is good, and I have few complaints. The past couple of weeks have been extra special. I was sort of on cloud nine as I chose my flannel pj’s and Thanksgiving socks for the evening (too early for Christmas socks), looking forward to my warm bed and wondering what encouraging words I would type tonight…
Then the toilet overflowed, and I had to roll up my flannel pj bottoms so they wouldn’t get wet. My turkey socks got trashed. Gross.
I’m certain the overflowing issue did not come from me, but most likely a child who used too much toilet paper. It is tough to feel beautiful, successful, and vibrant when soaking up toilet water with a bath towel. Thank goodness I am behind on laundry and there is a pile of dirty towels to choose from on the bathroom floor. Silver linings.
It seems I used to be more in control of life. When my children were all younger and I taught them at home, they made no plans themselves. It was all up to me. Our lives were predictable and easy. From the time they woke up until the time they went to sleep, I knew what we would be eating, reading, watching, and listening to.
It sounds controlling, and I suppose it was—but in a good sense of the word. They had a lot of freedom in their educational choices, and I had the freedom to not be controlled by anyone else’s schedule.
Now, I have three teenagers at home and a 10-year-old, attending two different schools. Yes, that’s three teenagers under one roof. Your sympathy is greatly appreciated.
These days I have no plan. Seriously—nothing. Basically, life happens and I am working around it. My goal is to keep them alive and out of prison. If any of them win the Nobel Peace Prize after being under my tutelage—well, that’s just a bonus and I am not sure I will be able to take credit for it. The fact that they say please and thank you—yes, that one is on me.
After raising my “boatload,” and with 47 years under my belt, I have come to the conclusion that a sense of humor in life is not just helpful, but oh my goodness, so very necessary. I’m sorry, but watching a toilet overflow at the end of the day, while standing there in shock, wearing flannel pj’s and turkey socks, gets a chuckle out of me. If it didn’t, my evening, and my children’s, would have been ruined with a bad mood. I can’t help but immediately think, I can’t make this stuff up…and then laugh it off.
We all have moments, when raising children, that might cause us embarrassment or frustration at the time, but make for great laughs later.
I once traveled alone with my five-month-old, on an airplane, and watched in horror as she had explosive diarrhea leaking out of what seemed to be every possible opening of her clothing. There I was, a young mom with my first child, stuck on an airplane, trying desperately to clean her up and rid this unventilated airplane of the horrid odor coming from my tiny angel.
It seemed everything I did made it worse. I took off her shirt, it got in her hair. I’d set down a wipe, it got on the seat. Upon landing, I exited the airplane with the cutest little five-month-old wearing only her nappy. I was humiliated until I saw her winning over everyone we passed with her beautiful smile and giant blue eyes. I smiled as she won me over too.
When my now 16-year-old was about a year old, I may as well have been raising a monkey. He could, and would, climb anything like he was preparing for Everest. I was terrified to turn my back on him, knowing that when I came back into the room, he would certainly be on the dining room table, or who knows what.
Due to his climbing, one of my favorite memories came from that monkey. One morning, I naively left a box of Dunkin’ Donuts sitting on the kitchen table. I came around the corner, and there he was, wearing footie pj’s, right in the middle of the table, chocolate frosting all over his face. Our eyes met, and all he said was, “Mmmmmm.” How could I not burst into laughter? I did…then pulled up a chair and smiled as I watched him finish off the doughnut.
I have six children, so I won’t bore you with a story of each of them—but you catch my drift. Humor has gotten me through it all (so far).
Raising children is hilarious. I feel sorry for people who can’t see that. Spit up, vomit, stepping on Legos over and over again, sudden horrible manners in public. I have had a child create art on the wall from what he found in his diaper, a son who loved to pee outside when we began potty training. I can’t tell you how many times I ran to cover his little bottom out in public. I have raised two teenage daughters and one more coming up. Is there an award for mothers who receive the most eye rolls, pouting, and foot stomps?
To the exhausted, tired mothers of little ones, please enjoy this time. Snap a picture when they get into the pantry and dump the bag of flour all over. Clean up is no fun, but you will cherish that photo some day.
Before you know it, you will be hearing phrases like, “You just don’t understand.” This also requires a sense of humor, but I don’t recommend you engage in laughter at that moment. After your pouty teenager leaves the room, certain he or she will die from your lack of understanding, then you may let the laughter out as you recall saying the same words to your mother, and now realize she actually understood you all too well.
Stay humble. Laugh at life. Call your mother.