Note: I wrote this a few months ago but hesitated to share for fear it was too negative. After some time, I decided to share because it’s the reality of parenthood – ups and downs, love and frustration, happiness and exhaustion. I think it’s healthy to remember and share all of it so I can have empathy for young mothers when I’m an old woman
Sunday afternoon I was upstairs with Ben and Jax when McKay came running up with a big smile declaring he had a present for us. He delivered a Love Note to us from Sadie. I read it aloud to the group: “Dear Daddy, I love you. I love you because you get me water.”
I laughed a painful, sad laugh. Kids. They’re so cute yet so cruel, ya know?
Ben was confused. “It seems so sweet. What’s wrong with it?” he asks.
Ugh….how can I explain.
Sunday morning I spent getting myself and three kids ready for church. I always have. I’m starting to think I always will. Ben was at ward council. So I fed, bathed, and dressed the kiddos myself. No biggie; I’m used to it. If Ben was home he’d be helping but he has obligations.
At church Ben sat on the stand because the whole ward council spoke. No biggie. I’ve sat by myself with the kids for 5 of the last 7 years. It’s not easy but I’m used to it.
After Sacrament meeting I go to my calling in Primary. More kids. I don’t mind, truly. It’s fun to be down there and I like knowing what’s going on.
After church Ben had meetings so I took the kids home and changed them out of their nice clothes into their comfy clothes. By then I had three hungry kids begging for lunch. I prepare a gluten-free favorite of chicken panang. It’s not easy to be limited to gluten-free meals but we make it work for Sadie’s sake.
So I prepare the meal and we sit down to pray and eat. Still no Ben but he’s doing great things so I’m happy about that. I’d eaten about 3 bites of food when Sadie asked me to get her a cup of water. The kids have ONE responsibility at meals: their water. All they had to get was their water. That’s it.
Our conversation went like this:
Sadie: “Mommy, I’m thristy”
Me: “Sadie, you know you’re supposed to get your own water, Honey. I just sat down and I want to eat. I haven’t sat down all day. I asked you several times to get your own water. I’m not going to. Can you please get it.”
Sadie: “Mommy, pleeeasssee will you get it for me? I’m really tired.”
Me: “Sadie, I have done 29 things to prepare this meal. I’ve measured the rice, rinsed the rice, cooked the rice. I’ve cut up the chicken, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and celery. I’ve opened cans of coconut milk and bamboo shoots. I’ve cooked the meal, plated the food, gotten you silverware and napkins. I asked you to do ONE thing – get yourself water. I’m tired and I want to eat. You can get yourself your own water.”
Sadie: Tears up and cries
Me: “Oh Sadie! You’re not in trouble; I’m just tired. Come on, honey. Let’s do it together, ok?”
Sadie and I get everyone waters.
So later when she delivered her note to Ben, “….I love you because you get me water” it felt like a slap in the face. It made me wonder if I’ll be remembered for the thousands of daily chores I do and the kind, encouraging words I express throughout the day, or will I be remembered for the one moment when they felt disappointed because I was tired and choose to be selfish. Are my kids going to look at their childhood and think of the handful of mistakes I made and overlook the thousands of things I did right? I’m worried they will. That’s sad.
I realize parenthood is not a popularity contest but sometimes I feel like the deck is a little unequally stacked against a mother. It’s so easy to love the dad, especially Ben. He’s fun, extremely involved, and more patient (because he’s not as worn out).
But, ya know, I think I’m a pretty good parent, too. Even if I don’t get them water!
I’ll just keep doing my best. I’ll teach them responsibility and hardwork even if it means arguments and grumpiness. I’ll keep trying to be patient and forgive myself even when I fall short. Hopefully one day they’ll be parents and understand just how hard I worked and how deeply I loved them. Because I do. I love them like I never imagined I could love anything!