I don’t know why children feel the need to walk down a hallway with their grubby little hands groping the clean walls the whole way, but they do. They just do. While sitting here writing my eight-year-old daughter is stabbing the comforter that goes on my bed with a pencil. I don’t know why. I have asked them before if they were pre-programed to send me to a mental institution before they reach the age of eighteen. They laugh at me and wander off to destroy something else that we own.
My husband and I have no nice stuff. I have a little Kia that we bought new when they were still toddlers. I have taken good care of her and she runs like a champ and her engine still looks beautiful. The backseat however, is permanently shellacked in several inches of unidentifiable kid goo. I have tried. I have steam cleaned it…vacuumed like crazy. My kids take their work seriously.
We have nothing in our home, really nothing, that hasn’t been half destroyed. Last year when we moved into our new house I put a lot of time into refinishing the table in my son’s room. A month later he had started picking at the paint and had peeled half of it off. My kids are really wonderful children. I don’t think that they have any hidden malice for their father or myself; this is simply the way that they operate. They are like tiny drunk people, ambling around with no sense of the chaos that they are inflicting upon their surroundings.
When I remark on their behavior, when I point out to them the object that they have just soiled or defaced, they apologize by route. I try to think back to when I was a kid myself, and I am pretty sure that I was the same way. I think that most kids are sort of messy lazy Tasmanian devils. I know that they don’t mean to be; I think that they are just too distracted by this big colorful world to focus on keeping it tidy. I remember eating candy on my grandmother’s couch at nine or ten and throwing the wrappers in the corner behind it. I definitely don’t know why I did that.
I might have a nice couch someday after they all go off to college. I am pretty sure that at least one of them will bring grandchildren back to my home at some point to continue the mission of destruction. Maybe someday I’ll be able to walk through the dark house at night without being terrified that I am going to step on a wayward Lego. When my kids are grown and stop putting fingerprints on the walls, the magic eraser company is going to suffer a serious loss in sales. And when they all pack up and leave, I will have a clean house. I may actually even have a few pieces of nice furniture, but they won’t be here anymore. And I will miss them more than I know.
The stuff isn’t important. The kiddos are. The other day I looked at my husband and explained to him what morons we were for ever choosing to have kids, and it’s not because of the stuff. If we had a single notion way back then of what parenting involved, we never would even have endeavored to undertake the task. All of the fear and worry over them being safe and well, succeeding in life, being happy for goodness sake…and we have three. We have three little humans wandering around out there in the world and they carry both of our hearts around with them. They are responsible for part of our souls! And they don’t even know how walk down the hallway without leaving fingerprints all over it.
Living life as a parent is like holding your breath every moment of the day until you tuck them safely into bed at night. Then it’s tossing and turning in your own bed while you worry about all of the dangers that they might face tomorrow. My husband and I actually chose to have kids, which at this point I have decided makes us completely certifiably crazy. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life, but I was an absolute idiot when I chose to take on the job. I had no idea what being a parent entailed. It all turned out wonderfully, apparently we can do this. It seems to be going well.
Reach out to the parents that you know, and if you are one, go easy on yourself. This is such a hard job. Give the parents in your life as much support s you can, and try not to judge them when they are going through a rough patch. We’re all trying to do what’s best for our kids. We’re scared to death that we’ll fail them. And well, we don’t even have anything in our homes that our adorable little angels haven’t torn to shreds. Parenting is hard. We deserve a pat on the back.