This weekend we tackled our basement. We have to ton of work that needs to be accomplished and would like to have it finished sooner rather than later. As we were painting with little people underfoot (some wielding paint-filled brushed!) and on our backs, I got to thinking about how far we have come.
We bought this house five years and three children ago. In fact, we moved in on Christopher's first birthday and I was seven months pregnant. Every wall in the house was a horrid glaring white. We painted the majority of them, but it was quite a trial. And we didn't do it alone. I remember my parents and most likely my sister, spending hours painting, wallpapering and otherwise ridding our home of white. It seemed like a major undertaking. And certainly one that Andrew and I would never have dreamed of tackling it alone. But this weekend, we had no need to call in reinforcements -- even though we have twice as many children. Somehow, in our six short years of parenting, we have learned to be productive despite little hands and feet getting in the way. We have grown in patience and ability.
I don't want to paint (haha) a picture that this past work weekend was all fun and games -- it wasn't. I was just struck by how our reactions to the situation have changed. But it made me think about all the young families, just starting out, who only have teensy tiny children and are aspiring to be something that no mother of littles has ever been. She is aspiring to be a mother to eight, when she is only a mother to two or three. Many young moms, my self included, have gotten caught up in this "blog-o-sphere of support" run by these seemingly super moms with a gaggle of children.
We log on and read that Mrs X knitted fifteen sweaters while homeschooling her seven year old in third year Latin, took all ten kids to the TL Mass, and got home in time to take her seven year old to Orchestra practice. And mom of three, with her dirty t-shirt, dirty diaper clad three year old (who is also her oldest), and mountain of laundry thinks that she is somehow failing. It's ridiculous. But what mom-of-three doesn't realize is that Mrs. X used to be her. But now, seven kids later, she has learned how to run a home efficiently, she has older kids to help, and has learned to relax. They are living in different world.
Now don't get me wrong, I think that the "blog-o-sphere" support system is wonderful and very beneficial. I don't begrudge Mrs. X has marvelous ability or her willingness to share with those of us who are less seasoned. But I do think that there is a danger that the whole picture is not always shown and those who are still in the more difficult years might at times feel inadequate.
Maybe the term "terrible twos" was actually referring to the years of only two children? And maybe this is why so many couples only have two children. Because that is the hardest time of all.
I guess this is so clear to me right now because I am in the position where, while still in the throws of the harder times, I have cleared the worst and see the better days ahead. I no longer spend my days only with people who can't carry on a conversation, follow commands, or use the bathroom.
I think these days of parenting are kind of like the transition phase of labor -- it gets really rotten for a while and then, all of a sudden, it's wonderful! And it is amazing how quickly it happens.