It looked like something out of a horror movie. One whole side of her face was covered in red. It splattered down her neck and blanketed her black and white checkered blouse. I’ll never forget the look on her face. It was a mixture of shock and dismay, followed by a round of unexpected giggles.
I breathed a sigh of relief at her kind reaction, hastily apologized, and then turned to face the perpetrator of this heinous act. My three and a half-year old looked up at me, eyes as big as saucers, the ketchup packet still crumpled under his hand.
As calmly and firmly as I could muster, I asked the little hoodlum: “Do you remember how I just asked you NOT to play with the ketchup?! THIS IS WHY!!!!!”
Five minutes and multiple napkins later, my sister Kelly was mostly clean. Her neck was still a little red and irritated from the lingering vinegar residue, but we were finally able to sit down to eat. By now, our Chick-Fil-A lunch had turned mostly cold.
To their credit, my two youngest were pretty well-behaved throughout the rest of the meal. And “ketchup boy” even adamantly apologized to his aunt without any prompting from me. “Auntie Kelly, I am SOOOO sowwwy.”
My sister does not have any kids. In the van on the way home, she looked at me intently and earnestly said: “I don’t know how you do it!”
I laughed and replied: “You just do it!”
“No really,” she continued, “I used to read your blog posts and think to myself, it can’t be that chaotic. And then I come and spend 20 minutes with your kids and I realize that you really aren’t exaggerating!”
Well, let’s be real. I have probably embellished a detail here and there on my blog. It helps to bring to life the true stories I’m trying to relay. On the other hand, anyone who has ever experienced life with kids would probably agree that parenting is NOT for the faint of heart.
Realistically, cleaning up ketchup is “easy peasy lemon squeezy” compared to things that parents, especially parents of young children, deal with on a regular basis! I don’t know how many times my sons managed to spray me when I was changing their diapers. And don’t get me started with the projectile vomit and poo I’ve had to scrub out of carpet and off of the walls. I’m just finally getting to the point where I don’t regularly have spit-up and snot smeared all over my clothes!
I used to think I knew what it felt like to be tired. You know, the way you would yawn and drag through the day after an all-night study session or a girls’ night out in college. Sometimes it would take me two full days to recover after a youth lock-in or weekend retreat.
Now a full night of uninterrupted sleep usually requires physically leaving my house, like staying overnight at a hotel – without my kids! This happens about as often as I get the chance to see shooting stars. These are rare and beautiful moments in time!
I wish I would have started writing down all the ridiculous things I find myself saying to my children. I’m sure my list would be a mile long. In my wildest dreams I never imagined I would have to tell my children to; “Stop licking the window! Stop licking the dog! Get your hands out of your pants! Please don’t lick the car door (really?!) Stop jumping off the dresser! You can’t eat things out of the garbage can! Get your hands out of your pants! No you can’t wear that shirt again… it’s been 4 days in a row! Don’t drink out of the dog dish! Stop drawing on (insert noun here). Get your hands out of your pants!”
My husband jokes about how I am one of the most “mentally strong” people he has ever met. “I don’t know how you do this all day?! I am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted after 30 minutes alone with the kids!”
Okay, so I do have my days when I wish I had a padded room in my house where I could beat my head against the wall.
But really… how do I do it? I just do! I do it because I have to. And I do it because I want to. I do it because love compels me to do so. And I do it because it’s totally worth it!
Those 2 o clock in the morning, drag you out of bed moments also come with cuddles, an occasional whispered “I love you,” and prayers that wouldn’t have been spoken if I hadn’t been up to say them.
Cleaning up messes, while disgusting in the moment, remind me that I’m not here for myself but to serve the ones that God has put in my path to love.
Those crazy things I thought I would never have to say? These “words of wisdom” now bring laughter to my lips and to my soul. And, hopefully, they made you smile as well.
Parenting isn’t always easy, but it’s a journey that I am blessed to be traveling. My kids often teach me things and enrich my life in ways that would never be possible without them. I wouldn’t trade the messes and the melt downs, and the lack of personal time, space and money for anything.
Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
My heart isn’t faint.
My heart is full.
photo credit honeysucklelife.com