Earlier last week, we were driving to my in-laws for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a 2-hour drive and we’d left the house right after lunch (a.k.a. nap time). I had decided to take advantage of some ‘mom time’ and listen to an audio book while the kids napped and I drove. “Kids, I want you all to sit back quietly and get some rest… If you don’t nap now, then you’ll probably have to take a nap at Grandma and Grandpas. Let’s rest now so that we can have some fun later”. To my surprise, this logical warning worked beautifully for my two youngest kids because within minutes, they’d both fallen asleep. My oldest daughter, the one who doesn’t typically take naps, decided to look through one of her magazines.
The scenario sounds almost perfect, right?
Hang with me here while I tell you the rest of the story.
A mere 10 minutes of ‘quiet time’ had passed before my daughter suddenly exclaimed, “Hey mom, name a food that spills easily!”.
Me – (taking my ear bud out of my ear and pausing my audiobook). “What??”
Daughter – “Can you name something that’s hollow?”
Me – “Umm.. a tree? Why?”
Daughter – “Good one! Can you swim in a bathtub!?”
Me – (sighing heavily…) “Baby. Why are you asking me these questions?”
Daughter – “There’s a page in my magazine with questions and jokes. They’re so fun! Do you wanna hear a knock knock joke?!”
Me – “Avalynn. I’m listening to a book right now and your brother and sister are asleep. We have a long time until we get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Can you just read quietly until we get there?”
Daughter – “…Ok…” (minutes later) “Mom! Why did the ballerina have to quit?”
Me – (more heavy signs and visibly annoyed that I’m having to push pause again on my book). “Avalynn. What did I just tell you?”
Daughter – (this time it was her turn with the heavy sighs) “…Sorry… But MOM. It’s because it was TUTU hard. Get it, TUTU hard? The ballerina had to quit because it was too hard but she wears a tutu and the joke means ‘too too’ not ‘tutu”!”. (sighing heavily again) “Mom… I know you want me to be quiet but I just really like these jokes and I think they’re funny and I like talking to you and I think you’ll think they’re funny too and I don’t get to do that as much anymore because I’m always at school so I don’t want you to listen to your book.”.
Shot. To. The. Heart.
Can you guess what came next? Other than more heavy sighs (obviously).
I glanced back at my daughter’s sweet brown eyes pleading for my attention in the review mirror. Maybe I should’ve stuck to my guns and told her to save the jokes for later. Maybe I shouldn’t have given in. Maybe I did the right thing. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t know… but there was something so painfully true about what my daughter had just said. She had literally pierced my momma bear heart without even realizing it.
So this is what I did – I turned my audio book off and for the rest of the drive (pretty much the entirety of the drive), I ended up listening to my daughter laugh through corny jokes and read me random questions.
This, you guys, is parenting. This is HARD. This is why we all feel like we’re all going crazy all the time. This is why we can never find a minute to ourselves. This is why we all experience overwhelming guilt for the all things we do or don’t do or think we should be doing.
Parenting and balancing and being good and staying sane and giving ourselves without losing ourselves…
It’s all hard.
The thing about it though… is that we’re all experiencing this hardness together. And our little toddler tornadoes that consume us so dry?—They don’t see the sacrifices. The challenges. The hardship. The guilt. The anxiety. They don’t see any of that… They just see us and know there’s nothing better.
I suppose the same could be said for us about them…
I see you, sweet kiddo. And there’s nothing better.