Since this parenting gig began nearly fourteen years ago, I have been overwhelmed.
I started off with twin girls born five weeks premature and then added a third daughter sixteen months later.
Having three kids close in age is both joyous and stressful.
On the one hand, you get to experience all the exciting milestones simultaneously, so every day is a new adventure. On the other, keeping three babes alive day in and day out was physically exhausting.
At one point, I changed roughly 30 diapers and washed about 25 bottles and sippy cups every single day. My life was consumed with hoisting little ones onto my hips and cleaning up toy rooms and laundry – oh so much laundry.
And at the end of each day I would collapse into my bed physically exhausted, spent, and unsure if I could do it again the following day.
As the pandemonium of living with three toddlers transformed into raising school-aged kids, I finally found my groove. Our life was still hectic but in a controlled way. I felt satisfied with our life and how we lived it.
And then my kids turned into tweens and teens.
I was not prepared for what happened next.
To put it simply, it’s bloody chaos. I had no idea how mentally exhausting the teenage years would be.
While my kids continue to become more independent, there is so much to remember.
It’s driving my kids to school early and picking them up late. It’s fundraisers, school projects and homecoming dress shopping.
It’s orthodontist appointments, sports physicals and weekends out of town for tournaments.
It’s constant trips to the grocery store because there are always kids at my house, forgetting it’s my turn for carpool and laundry – still. so. much. laundry.
In between, I desperately try to carve out family time so I can remember what my kids look like.
But more than the remembering, there’s the worrying.
It’s the drugs that are most definitely in my kids’ schools, the cyberbullying and the academic pressures.
It’s the requests I hear for nude selfies and violence at every corner. It’s alcohol at every social gathering and phones glued to hands.
It’s tough decisions about dating and sleepovers and school trips and boys, oh so many boys.
It is exhausting trying to bite my tongue, choose my battles and let my daughters have some independence.
It’s ignoring some eye-rolls and epic sighs and snarky teen remarks.
It’s closing the door on messy rooms and accepting that sometimes I can’t fix their world, no matter how much I want to do precisely that.
And it is lonely.
When all your kids are gone from sunrise to sunset and the peace and quiet you so desperately sought a decade before feels ominous and heavy.
So, I stress about consciously enjoying every last orchestra concert and game and competition.
I lament at how fast the time streaked by. I’m sad when I can no longer kiss a boo boo or carry my child upstairs after a long day.
In all this I often find that I am mentally drained at the end of each day, and I collapse into my bed like I did in those early years.
And while I am exhausted, I am still so wonderfully satisfied.
It is exciting to watch my kids grow in their passions.
I am so proud of their every success.
I am hopeful that they will bring light into this dark world and can’t wait to see what they accomplish next.
I celebrate their spirit, determination, and yes, even their missteps.
Parenting is such a roller coaster.
Nothing else in life gets simultaneously easier and harder at the same time.
I was not mentally prepared for how exhausting it would be during the teenage years, but oh what a wonderful ride it is.