It's exhausting. The hours are never ending, and most days I give up things that I want to do so I can put my kids in a place where they can be successful (ie: not using my gift cards from Christmas so I can buy pants that fit so I don't have both boys in tow, or going to the gym when my kids are really going after one another) but in my heart, I know that I've made the right choice, for me. I proudly devote every waking moment to these boys. If one doesn't nap, I take the opportunity to do one-on-one stuff with him. If one needs me to stop working, I'll just stay up late to get my work done. I am here, as a stay-at-home parent, to be there for them. And I'm proud of it. Even if it means I take "my time" once every month (hopefully).
I don't like to be the parent that says, "No" just because. I don't like to see them fail so I can get something I want done, done. I don't like to tell them they "Can't do that". Instead, I've changed the language I use, "Make a good choice", "There are all kinds of consequences and rewards for our actions, think about what you are choosing to do", "It's going to be hard to cut that cheese with a spoon, but go ahead and try anyway". Some people may think that's the wrong style- too much freedom, but for me, it's the way I like it and it works for us. My boys have learned that if you take unmatched socks from the sock bin and throw them around the house, even when I ask you not to, you will be responsible for it. You will do nothing until it's cleaned up and put away. They know that if they talk back to me or laugh in my face, they will be sent to their room to think about their actions and won't be allowed to come down until they are calm and can talk about what happened and issue an apology. They know that I will be firm, strong and hold my ground, and they know that I will be there to support them in anything they do. They also have learned that I'm always available for snuggles and love, and stories and books, and playtime...
I don't worry about the clean house (yes, the boys must pick up their own messes). I often forget about the laundry and, one day, I will painfully realize it is 12 loads deep. I don't worry about anyone, or any other mom and how they parent, because, I do what works for me.
And while I sit here writing, I realize I live in a house covered in dog fur, crumbs, glitter, glue, something sticky over there. And yes, there is urine on the floor because Thornado just informed me that he peed there, but "It's okay, mom".
I think, yeah, I'll vacuum the floor....tomorrow. I'll get that pee cleaned up now. And then I'll sit and relax for a few minutes before I have to put up a physical barrier and become a referee so my boys can't steal each other's toys, or hit one another, or run wild, or build a fort, or search for a toy at the bottom of the toy bin, or "help" me with chores, or whatever else they can think of in the 2.5 minutes I'm in the bathroom.
I've come to terms with the fact that my house isn't as clean, or crayon free as others. You'll probably step on a Lego or a Hot Wheels here. You'll probably be grossed out by the bathroom that I swear on their lives I clean 100 times a day due to potty training, but you wouldn't be able to tell. You'll put your hand in dust or apple juice, but you'll also see happy kids, ready to explore, imagine and be themselves.
While my boys sleep, I realize, that while I am typing to you all, and listening to classical music while sipping coffee that I made six hours ago, I could be cleaning the house, prepping dinner, doing laundry or even a host of other things that would benefit my home or myself. But instead, I take a mental, much needed break and do nothing but look at my boys while they rest. Nap time, is clearly a time for them to regroup, but it's also time for me to take a mental "freshen up". I look at them, and once they start snoring or drooling, I am off duty for enough time to re-start my brain, take a deep breath, rest my eyes and re-group for round two.
I forgive them for their tantrums, their sass, the crazy. I forgive Theo for peeing on the floor, or taking everything out of the closet.
I forgive Henrik for insisting every three seconds that he's a "Police Officer and he can do whatever he wants as long as he's helping everyone" that is, everyone but me. Or I can forgive his whiny complaints as he issues an "It's not faaaaaaiirrrrrrrr, mom. That's not my favorite thing to doooooooooo".
And when they want me to hold them or snuggle up with them, I do it. Because while some days are dreadfully long, this won't last forever. I won't always remember what they said, or did, or how wild they were, or how angry I was when Theo peed on the floor for the 100th time in one hour, but I will remember how it makes me feel when I am there for them, when we are there for each other. I will remember, and they will remember that they always had someone there to comfort them, to keep them safe and to protect them through real life and dreams, there will be no doubt that their mom was there.
And when they sleep, so peacefully, I can almost laugh about the chap stick ground into my new shirt.
I can laugh about the vomit on all of the pillows, blankets, the floor and the sheets that are still sitting at the top of the stairs.
I can laugh about Theo putting on all of my make up so he can turn himself into cat while painting the vanity as I searched for clean underwear.
I can laugh about the complete make over that Henrik gave his bedroom when he pulled out ALL of the toys from the play room and re-located them (and ALL OF THE INDIVIDUAL puzzle pieces) from the play room to his bed.
I laugh about the gold doubloons and gems (that are really pointy) that were in my bed, and under the covers.
And while I reflect on the morning, the hours fly by and soon enough, nap time is over and we're back at it. Happy, refreshed, and ready for more so we can take on the universe, test boundaries, and explore ourselves.
I will argue, until the day I die, that being a mother, especially a stay-at-home mother, is the hardest job on the planet. And while it offers no money and creates a lot of stress, these are the moments worth living for. These are the moments that I wouldn't trade in for anything, even if it means my house is a mess, the bank account is low, and I have circles (permanent dark circles) under my eyes, these are the moments I am choosing to remember.