I am exhausted! What have I been doing you ask? Training for a marathon? Saving puppies from burning buildings? Making sweet love to my husband?
NO! I am babysitting my niece, Lizzy, age 10 and my nephew, Kael, age 6. Now, my kids are 19 (the twins) and 15. I have not had to wipe a poopy butt, fix a lunch, get a drink of water, or "entertain" my kids in years. I am woefully out of practice!
First of all, you have to have the stamina of an Iron Man athlete to keep up with young kids. I think my stamina is that of a sloth or, on a good day, a koala. I have come to enjoy a life of leisure and it has been completely ripped from me this weekend.
Liz and Kael got here Saturday around noon. I needed a nap by 1:45 but plowed through the fatigue and sleepiness to blow bubbles, color, play soccer, make bracelets, get 7 glasses of water, make dinner and then reheat pizza because "I don't like this" was sung in chorus, make beds in the living room, play with Legos, play Wii, watch Avatar (the cartoon), announce that it is bedtime, get 3 more glasses of water, make Kael go to the bathroom before laying down a third time, kisses on the head, I love you's whispered, threats of death if you get up ONE MORE TIME and then the sweet oblivion of sleep!
Sunday: See Above.
I was 20 when I had the twins and 24 when I had my youngest. I had much more stamina and patience...well, maybe not patience but definitely more stamina. When our kids were young, our house was the go-to playhouse. I used to babysit as well, so we had a full house from morning until evening. It was chaos! But a well controlled and organized chaos. I kept a strict schedule and even when the kids were older I would make them take naps. Not for them; for me. I told them that they didn't have to sleep, but they had to lay quietly for at least an hour. This gave everyone some down time and gave me time to rejuvenate.
After I had my youngest, I knew I was done having kids. There has not been ONE TIME in 15 and 1/2 years that I have looked at my husband and said, "Honey, I want another baby." Well, I did once, jokingly, and he ever-so-lovingly said, "Hell no." We know what it takes to raise kids and right now, with 3 young adults under our belts, we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Being a parent is all consuming. You "become" Mom or Dad and the person you were before children is as different as the person you were in your teens as compared to your forties. It is so easy to lose yourself when you become a parent; to give every aspect of yourself to your kids until you no longer know how to act or what to do when you aren't with them. I tried so hard to write when my kids were young, but I just couldn't. I kept a journal and wrote sporadically, but I felt guilty taking this time for myself. Being that mentally distracted and emotionally self-beaten made writing a dreaded chore that I forced myself to do. It wasn't fun anymore. I decided to put my writing on the back burner until the kids got older.
As a parent you have this ongoing list of "I can't wait until's". I can't wait until they sleep through the night; until they can eat solid food; until they are out of diapers; until they can walk; until they start school; until they can drive themselves; until they graduate; until they get a job; until they move out.
This is when you get yourself back. When you rediscover what brings you happiness and get back to doing what you love. I can now dedicate the time and intensity to my writing that I've always wanted. No guilt or self loathing involved. It has been a long time coming and I am going to enjoy every minute of it.
But this weekend I am back in parent mode. So, if you will excuse me, I have to get my butt kicked at Mario Brothers by a 6 year old.