When someone asks me how I am doing, my first instinct is to say, “Busy”. But a better, more accurate response may be one of these: I am exhausted; I am on the verge of every emotion; I am on extremely high alert. I am a parent to three young kids—a four year old daughter and two year old twin sons.
The constant noise of my daughter having conversations with herself as if she is the star of a play in which she plays all of the roles, and the rotation of my boys jumping, running, throwing or kicking for the sake of doing anything than sitting still keep my nerves raw and my senses overloaded.
If I am not busy removing items not meant for curious hands, wondering if one of my three adventurous children will finally break a bone, or listening to the noisy sounds of their moods I am anticipating the need to do so. Even when I am alone, I am as aware of my surroundings as an undercover spy. Because being alone doesn’t last long, and if I let my guard down, someone will pee on the floor or eat a pair of scissors. Some rest comes at bedtime, when I finally close my eyes and hope I don’t hear the sounds of crying, though I fully expect to have at least one child in my bed by morning.
Life with kids is chaotic, exhausting, and maddening. But my life is also pretty great, even if it does not always feel that way. Would I trade the craziness for more free time and more relaxed evenings? No way. Besides, what the hell did I do with my free time before I had a kid? I know I didn’t appreciate it the way I do now. And I am sure I was not as efficient as I am now. Give me 45 minutes, and I will do a load of laundry, clean the bathroom, prep dinner, and wash a sink full of dishes.
I would love a chunk of time each day to really allow myself to recharge, whether it’s through exercise, reading, or sitting by myself in a quiet room and staring at a wall. I would love to have guaranteed time to talk to my partner each day without interruptions. I would also love to have the time and money to take advantage of more date nights. But instead of being stuck wishing for these things or resenting the fact that these things do not happen with consistency, I do my best to take what I can get when I can. Some days, the best I can do is brush my teeth with no one else in the bathroom.
We still have a few more weeks of summer, but as summer activities slow down and are replaced by a new school year with fall activities, we will continue to be busy. But in between the rushing around, prepping meals, and tantrums, remember to steal the moments that make it worth it. Laugh with your children, read an extra bedtime story, and sneak a kiss from your partner when the kids decide that playing nicely together is an option.
I have heard myself say “busy” too many times when asked how I am. While it is absolutely true, it’s also a bit of false advertising. I will continue to be on high alert for the foreseeable future—which is an odd sensation when my eyes are burning from exhaustion—but I will try to point out another obvious fact. I am good.