Sunday, August 10, 2014


Any of you who have more than one child knows what sibling rivalry is and how it sucks your will to live most of the time. On the other hand, though, as a parent of more than one child you also probably know that when they get along, that time is fricking golden. GOLDEN, I'm telling you.

When my kids were little, they'd fuss over who was breathing whose air, whose bum was getting more of the backseat, who got more spaghetti at dinner. Those things were just a part of my daily - nay, hourly - life as a mother of toddlers, preschoolers, elementary-aged kids. While I was silently suffering on the inside, breaking up fights without even realizing I was doing it, and even becoming so adept I could change the youngest's diaper with my hands while keeping the other two from ripping out jugular veins with one leg extended behind me, my husband had far less patience with the harping, nagging, fussing, squealing, arguing, and sometimes downright caterwauling. He'd go from completely detached from the universe to threatening bodily harm in 2.1 seconds. I could endure for days. And I did. Maybe it was because I was young. Maybe it was because motherhood had been my lifelong dream. Maybe it was because I knew if I stopped being a stay-at-home mommy I'd have to get a job that involved wearing a bra on a daily basis.

So now I am the mother of teenagers. Two are full-fledged teenagers, one is mere months away from being there officially, although her attitude argues otherwise. (Girl is rockin' those teenage hormones and eyerolls these days. Ugh.) The fleeting moments of shining parental happiness when your children get along is no different when they become teenagers. In fact, I think it's even more precious. Now that they are older, the arguments are more in the range of who is louder, who is more obnoxious, who is my favorite, who gets all of our money when their dad and I finally kick the bucket, and those kinds of things. And with taller bodies, apparently comes longer vocal cords and increased lung capacity with which to throw insults and slams at much higher volumes than when they were little, compact, and cute. Days where the insults fly from sun-up to sun-down are exhausting for me. Since we homeschool, there is very little opportunity for me to ever get a break. I love them all dearly and am so happy that God has given us the chance, blessings, freedom, and grace to educate them at home, but I am being completely honest when I say this: there are days I have considered tying them all three together with duct tape and kicking them out of the car in front of the school, driving on with a smile on my face and going straight home to just sit on my couch in the complete silence. Not taking a nap or a hot bath. Just sitting. Where it's quiet. Never mind that our oldest child has graduated high school and would have no need to step foot on a high school campus - but that's the least of what I'm thinking of when I'm daydreaming.

But oh. There are days that I see their sibling relationships developing right before my very eyes, the dynamics of sister/sister, sister/brother, and all three together. I see how big brother looks out for little sister. I see how little brother asks big sister for advice. I see how big sister steps down from her lofty heights of being nearly 18 to help little sister with an outfit or hair. I try to focus on those precious, stolen moments when little sister is invading her older siblings' personal space or when brother is tormenting the dickens out of his sisters with stinky socks or his retainer. I see them taking selfies with each other, making stupid faces or being serious either one. I see how little sister looks up (literally) to big sister with little stars shooting out of her eyes. I see how little brother looks down (literally) on either sister with a grin of mischief and dare I say it - love. I hope and pray with all that is in me that their relationships only strengthen as they get older. They are going to need each other when they get out there in the real world. They are going to experience heartache that they won't want to come to me or their daddy about, but a phone call to big sister is going to make it better, perhaps put things in perspective. They are going to call each other as Paul and I age to share stories about how we're losing it or something senile we said or did. And they are going to become aunts and uncle to my amazing future grandchildren, telling the new offspring about their growing up and stories to embarrass and laugh over.

So I am taking these little moments of bliss and filing them away in my mind and in my heart. I pull them out and remember them on those days when a math lesson has left littlest sister crying and oldest sister rolling her eyes in disdain at such a display. I pull them out on other days as well. The days when I feel like I am the worst mother in the world. On the days I forget to make French toast even though she asked me four times, but I got busy. On the days I snap at someone for not understanding something the way I teach it the first time. On the days the new Pinterest recipe is a great big fat fail. On the days I feel like I am fat, ugly, unloved, un-special, unwanted, unimportant and so much more "un"everything.

Because on those days, the days I have a hard time loving myself, I just look at those three crazy, prayed-for kids and see the perfect combination of their father and myself, the ultimate expressions of our insane love and roller coaster marriage, the fulfillment of so many hopes and dreams, the proof that God loves me enough to entrust these three humans to me to mold, shape, teach, lead, and love on until He's ready to call us home.

And then on other days? I lock myself in the bathroom and go back to that daydream about duct tape and a drive-off.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Love this! This will give hope to my daughter that has three young children.

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Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...