You know that meme that’s going around Facebook statuses, asking “If you and I woke up in jail together, what four words would you say to me?” I sometimes sorta feel like my husband and I just woke up in this house full of children, and are looking at each other going “Can *you* explain this?”
I remember when I was working and “single,” whiling away my free time helping hedge funds figure out how to borrow even more money, I had a lot of colleagues who would make comments about how a friend of theirs got married and had two kids and just looked awful. “I don’t know if I ever want to have kids,” they’d say, “She only has two, and she hasn’t showered in weeks and she just looks so TIRED.”
And in my endless unmarried wisdom I would say, “Having kids doesn’t have to be that hard. You just have to train them properly from the get-go.” Oh yes, I knew just what to do. And I was sure I’d never be *THAT* homeschooling mom of many – you know, the one whose children show up with mismatched socks or with unkempt hair or who wear their pajamas to church and change in the van when they get there.
For some reason that mentality has stayed with me. It sounds prideful, and it is, but it isn’t simply a personal pride thing. In this backwards day and age, our culture is so anti-life that raising children is seen as a curse, and anyone who has more than one or two children is to be pitied, or perhaps more kindly, gaped at as though they were a ring unto themselves at Barnum & Bailey. I didn’t want to be fodder, as my colleagues’ friends-who-let-themselves-go were, for high-living DINKs to pat themselves on the back knowing they’d made the right decision. “Look honey, that could’ve been us! *shudder*”
So for the first several years (and children) my kids might be running around au natural while at home (and were), and making me all kinds of crazy, but by golly I would never leave the house without having the girls’ hair combed, wearing something pretty that comprised a complete outfit, and having my own hair and face show-worthy. We were ready to be out in public, to be pointed at with “oohs” and “aahs” and approached with “How do you do it?”s.
A few more kids, a little more experience, and you’d think I’d be better at this facade than before. You’d be wrong. I like to tell myself that I’ve simply realized that going barefoot is good for kids, or that I like to pick my battles with the two-and-three crowd and disputing wearing dress-up on top of pj’s to the store is simply not high on the list. But maybe the bare bones fact is that I just can’t keep it all together like I thought I could.
So yes, I am *that* homeschooling mom whose kids last week at the farmers market had to stay in the van digging for any shoes they could find in the upholstery, because they hadn’t worn any out of the house. (They found seven shoes, they needed six; they were able to come out and join the fun eventually.) I am *that* mom whose son makes the local paper with his shirt inside out and backwards. I have to admit I get a lot more “You’ve got your hands full!”s than “How do you do it?”s these days. And on my last trip to the grocery store, while two of my kids jousted with shopping carts and celery, I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of yuppies run, not walk, to the family planning aisle.
My husband likes to say, “The longer I’m a parent, the less advice I give out, because I realize I really don’t know what the heck I’m doing.”
I face this reality every day. And just in case you were fooled by my show-ready appearance, I’m here to tell you that I don’t know how to make kids go to sleep at night, stay out from under my feet while I’m cooking, or do chores consistently. I don’t know how to keep a clean house, keep up with the laundry and ironing, cook three gourmet meals a day, nurse 24/7 and still find time for personal hygiene. So anything you read from me that has an opinion du jour, please weigh it against this fact: I have no idea what I’m doing.
And I hope someone else can carry that June Cleaver torch, ‘cuz I totally dropped it. The dirt floor of my shoe-house still has the scorch mark.