Some days I feel like I’m at war…and the enemy is too close to home: my own family. Moms and dads, this is for you, because only you know what I’m talking about.
I’m jarred awake at 5 a.m. to the screams of my toddler, whose voice carries more than loud enough to wake up the other two kids who share a room with her. Rushing to silence her before the fourth kid a room over–the baby–awakes, I don’t make it in time.
Wailing across the hallway.
And that’s how the day begins.
No sunshiney bird songs to cheer me up. No skipping and dancing to a bright new day.
It’s a stampede of frantically cooking breakfast and cleaning up and wiping dirty hands and re-folding laundry the zillionth time and figuring out how the heck I’m going to keep them busy today, all while the kids tug me every which way with cries of, “Mommy, I want cereal. Mommy, I want juice. Mommy, fix my toy. Mommy, look at me! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…”
Let’s not exclude my autistic son who doesn’t use words but prefers screaming and crying at the slightest disturbance. Calming him is a big production in itself, adding one more “give” that I don’t have in me anymore as the cacophony rises around me.
Shut up! I want to yell. Or something even worse. But instead I try to grin and bear the noise, the bickering, the yelled needs and wants all day every day. Discipline can only get you so far with kids. The rest of the chaos is their birthright–their innate need to makes messes and bug the crap out of you until you break.
Some days I’m more broken than others. Some days I can’t get out of the trenches. I take care of the kids all day, then after they go to bed–a ritual that can take hours as they take turns escaping from their room in a frustrating game of I Need Something–I sit in front of my computer to work. And work. And work.
My break doesn’t come until well after 10:00 p.m. on most nights, when I’ve finally finished my projects and sit down to a cup of tea and veg for maybe thirty minutes, if I’m lucky, before the baby cries for her midnight snack–me.
So this is life with kids. Four kids, one of which has autism. It’s the trenches that we parents know too well. It causes us to divide and attempt to conquer, but there’s no real conquering at this life stage. So we instead suffer in silence.
If you’re in the trenches right now, I’m with you. Many others are with you too. God’s with you. But we need to remember to take care of ourselves. We matter too.
Make a cup of tea–or a strong drink!–and relax tonight.
Buy your favorite dessert and don’t share. Eat it while watching a movie in your Netflix queue.
Plan a date night.
Make plans with a friend.
Hug your kids a little warmer tonight and kiss a little softer.
Cuddle with your spouse.
Just don’t give up. It’s rough being stuck in these pits, I know, but take the break you need and give your spouse the break he or she needs too. Everyone tells me that one day I’ll miss these days, and while I laugh at the thought of that, maybe they’re right. I’d hate to find out too late that I should’ve smiled more and cried less.