If you’re a parent, or just someone who cruises the internet frequently, you’ve probably seen that funny little graphic comparing Saturday mornings of parents vs. non-parents. As a mom of two kids (age 5 and 6.5), I’ll admit I got a bit of a laugh out of it. But as I’ve thought about it some more, it has depressed me. The writer is clearly a parent, and the tone used to describe the morning routine of a non-parent isn’t lightly sprinkled with condescension…it’s drenched. The descriptions of a morning with children come across as, dare I say it? resentful? What’s wrong with this picture? Why have we so diminished the pleasure and indescribable joy of parenting and replaced it with constant complaints and a string of “bad mommy” moments? Where is the grace? For ourselves, as human beings prone to mistakes and failures, and for our children, who are fairly new to the world and haven’t grasped all the rules and regulations just yet. The grace is lacking.
I present to you: An Average Saturday Morning in My Home
7:30 am I can hear that my son is up and has gone to turn on Netflix. Great! It’s a Saturday and I’m all for some morning cartoons
8:00 am I am snuggling my sweet boy on the couch, enjoying the few moments of the day he will let me hold him like he’s a baby again. His skin smells like sweat and sleep, and it’s glorious. In a few years it will reek of adolescent body odor, so for now I just bask in it.
8:30 am My daughter gets up. She kisses me, morning breath and all, and I kiss her back because this is our morning ritual and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
9:00 am Time for breakfast. The kids want some autonomy and independence so while they make their food I seize the moment and get dressed.
9:30 am I have come back to the kitchen to find milk spilled on the table and floor, cereal crunching under my feet, and virtually every cupboard in the kitchen open. There are two grinning faces and they say “Look, mama! We made you breakfast!” So I thank them, sit down, and eat the bowl of rice krispies so lovingly prepared. The mess can wait, my appreciation for them can’t.
10:00 am With the kitchen cleaned up, the kids get dressed. It’s summer and my daughter picks out a bathing suit and a tutu. My son selects a dress shirt and athletic pants. I open the front door and kindly suggest that they consider the weather and if they think their choices of attire are appropriate. They run to change and come back in shorts and t-shirts (mismatched of course, and that’s their prerogative).
10:30 am We get in the car and they immediately start fighting over which songs to listen to. My daughter wants worship songs and my son wants Disney songs. I pick something entirely different but silently appreciate that my children love music so much and show an interest in learning it some day.
11:00 am We are running errands. They run away from me in stores, clumsily walk into people going down aisles, run a shopping cart over my foot once or twice. I wish the grocery store were as exciting for me as it is for them! Oh, the wonder of how children see the world.
And there you have it. Of course our morning had moments of slight chaos (was I really going to type out every insignificant argument?) and of course my children do inappropriate things like sticking their hands up my shirt and smacking each other’s bums in lineups. No kid is perfect, and we’re sick in the head if we expect them to be. You can let those crazy Saturday mornings break you, or you can make the choice to find something worthwhile and pleasurable in them. Feel free to radiate a message that says “I can’t handle handle my kids because they’re psychotic and we should all have been sterilized to avoid such trauma”, but that just makes the world less and less child-friendly every day. Let’s celebrate their existence, even when it’s loud and unruly. Let’s make a place for them in this world to just be.