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The Small Stuff

From time-to-time, a friend or relative without a child will ask me why I wanted to have kids. The comment usually comes when one, or both, of my girls are throwing a tempter tantrum or are climbing on me like a jungle gym and I am near tears and insanity. It is often hard, particularly at those moments, to clearly articulate exactly why it is that having kids is so truly rewarding. In the end, unconditional love would probably sum it up, however there are a million reasons why I love being a parent. From seeing someone who looks or acts like you, getting tons of hugs and kisses to knowing that you have the ability to mentor someone to become a change-maker, the rewards outweigh the challenges.

With small children, one of the biggest perks I've been given is that I no longer take things for granted. I can honestly say that I don't even remember what it was like to not have kids. I mean, I remember being in high school and college and I look back on the crazy times of my youth with fondness, but the short time of adulthood I experienced without children is an absolute fog.

Having kids has provided me with perspective. When I was in my early twenties I had lofty goals and often became depressed when I'd hit a bump in the road. I was a perfectionist and I worried about everything. Why wasn't I skinnier, prettier or smarter? Why didn't I make more money or get a promotion fast enough? When was I going to be able to afford Pottery Barn furniture? Why did it always seem like I had to work every Saturday or Sunday? When was I going to get to take a big vacation? The list of gripes went on and on. As I forged a path for myself and tried to figure out who I was, I always wanted more than what I had at the present moment. It was all about the big picture because I didn't even know that the small stuff existed.

Now that I have kids, all that small stuff really matters. Yeah, small stuff, like going to the bathroom by myself. I don't even remember what it's like to sit on the toilet and not have a little person standing next to me, hand on my knee, asking me, "What you doing?" How about driving home from work without a kid with me? Oh, yeeaaaah, maybe I can stop at the post office on the way to buy a book of stamps, or the convenience store to get a gallon of milk! That would be soooo luxurious to just get out of the car, by myself, go buy what I need and then...wait for it....just get back in the car and drive away! No buckling and unbuckling, running up and down steps, losing my keys while chasing a small person through the parking lot, or buying more than was needed as a bribe to get the little person to stop asking why the man in front of us in line doesn't have a leg.

There are so many more: sitting down to eat dinner and NOT GETTING UP UNTIL I AM DONE EATING! YEAH! Sitting down and reading the paper. READING ANYTHING FROM START TO FINISH. Going swimming- yes, swimming, not standing in the water, up to my knees, scanning the water and beach like a lifeguard. Talking on the phone and just talking to the person on the phone, and not having a side conversation at the same time, "Oh, really? That's so exciting that you are going on vacation to....no! I said stop slapping her in the face! I'm counting to 5! 1, 2, 3....to Florida! That will be really fun!" In general, it would be pretty amazing to have a conversation where I listen and respond to just one person at one time.

So, you can see, when these things do happen, it makes me so happy! I'm very easy to please. Just give me five minutes to poop in peace and I'll do whatever you want me to do! A Life is Perfect day for me could look like this: wake up at 4, 5, and finally, 6 am, because baby has a stuffy nose. Manage 3 temper tantrums and 5 mini-crises, including a stuffed bunny in the (been used) potty before 11 am followed by an hour "swimming" in the gym pool and an hour accompanying my kids as they push a toy shopping cart, while sporting tutus and feather boas, down Main Street. Then, two loads of laundry and countless toy clean-ups followed by making a meal to watch it be thrown on the ground to chants for "Peanut Butter and Jelly! Peanut Butter and Jelly!" Ending with...drum roll... a walk with a friend followed by a drink at a bar by the lake and arrival home just in time to kiss the girls good night as they drift to sleep so I can then go take a bath and read a book and be in bed by 9. AHHHHHH.

In my youth, the time with my friend would have likely been a chance to be melancholy about my sad life. The fact that I was out in public, wearing clean clothes, and having a conversation from start to finish, just wouldn't have been as special as it is to me now.

I've been a mom for almost six years. Being a parent has forced me to forge a path and define myself. I am a mom. I'd want it no other way. I am completely fulfilled. All of my other goals- I'd still like to be (relatively) pretty, skinny and smart, and having Pottery Barn furniture would be cool once there is nobody living with me who would pee on it or spill grape juice on it- are just added bonuses to my happy life.

In closing, if you normally skim this blog and you want to know the gist of it in one sentence: Have kids. It will make pooping alone TOTALLY AWESOME!

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