My kids are splashing in the bath tub.
I loved giving my nieces and nephews baths when I was a teenager. I twisted their soapy hair into dinosaur shapes, and told stories of mermaids swimming to distant shores. Afterwards, I wrapped them into fluffy towels and tucked them into bed.
Ever since I was old enough to be left alone, I’ve taken care of other kids. I babysat my first newborn when I was 12 years old, which necessitated a call to my mom when I couldn’t figure out how to stop her from crying. I eventually grew more qualified, and babysitting paid for my gas money in high school and through college. Even after grad school, I still found myself nannying while I looked for a “real job.”
Kids were always easy, fun, or at the very least funny, and I made good money watching them. Until, of course I had my own.
Mine are rarely easy, and are the opposite of good money. Like my previous charges, they are fun and funny, but those moments are sandwiched between frustrating ones as well. I see fellow moms post Facebook statuses saying, “I love every minute of being a mom!” and find myself wondering why I don’t feel that way.
Now that I’m the mom, I can’t hand the tots off to anyone at the end of the day, two twenty dollar bills in hand, figuring job done well enough. Every minute, every moment I am responsible. It’s not the children themselves that are exhausting (although they have their moments.) It’s the work that takes to raise them into adulthood that’s so draining.
It’s the “did I yell too much today?”
“Should I have been stricter?”
“OH MY GOD IS HE CHOKING?”
“Should I play classical music more often?”
“Am I reading to them enough?”
“Did they eat too many cookies today?”
“Did they eat a single vegetable this week?”
“Should I take her to the doctor for this?”
“Is this bath water too hot?”
“Am I missing it all?”
These are the questions I can’t leave behind at the end of the night. These are what have me so exhausted all I want to do during bath time is to zone out, rather than cherish these days.
As my son sat down in the bath tub tonight, he closed his eyes and said, “ah, this is the life.”
He’s right. And I’m worried I’m missing it behind my veil of exhaustion and worry. So tonight I will tell them tales of shipwrecked pirates and far off islands. They are mine, my exhausting blessings.
This is the life.