Monday, June 3, 2013

Pick Two (Another Note for Young Mothers)

You, yes, you young moms. I see you. I know you. I know lots of you. I used to be one of you. It seems like eons ago and yet like yesterday, but I was there, too.

Here's the gig: You can have standards. You can have children. You can have sanity. Pick TWO. You can't have them all. It just plain goes against the laws of nature.

You CAN have standards and sanity:

Sure, in your pre-children state you can have standards and still maintain your sanity. You can be germ-averse and house-tidy. You can have a place for everything and everything in its place. You can dine at the finest of establishments while swigging down locally brewed beverages made from only the most organic of ingredients. Your house can look like the cover of Martha Stewart Magazine and you can vow never, ever, ever to set foot in Wal-Mart. Ever! You can shop at the local tailgate markets and fork over $4 for a tomato. But throw in kids and, well, you're toast.

You CAN have children and sanity:

Well, maybe one kid and you can keep up the standards . . . for a bit. One kid you can chase down and wrestle to the ground, to pull the dead stinkbug from his tiny fist or fish it out of his mouth. Two kids are a different thing. Three? Well, stinkbugs are a great source of protein. Four? "Let's make stinkbug ice cream for the science fair project!"

To have kids means to loosen up and go with the flow. You might be horrified to find yourself doing many of those things you smugly said in your pre-kid days that you would NEVER do, but you sigh in defeat and do them anyway, knowing that nobody is the worse for wear.

Kids and tidy just don't go together. Kids like dirt and water (and dirt + water = mud—lots of it). Kids like to experiment with gravity. Kids like Wal-Mart (mind boggling, I know). And kids like . . . no, they LOVE . . . McDonald's seemingly crack-infused chicken nuggets. And when you have a car full of hungry, cranky mayhem and you see the Golden Arches in the distance, you might find that the one thing that brings back your sanity is to bring the car to a screeching halt and partake, along with the rest of America, of those cultural entities, greasy at they may be. You have not failed, you have done what any good mother would do: You have prevented mass murder in your back seat.

You CAN have children and standards:

But don't expect anybody to be happy about it.

Not you. You will drive yourself nuts running around cleaning and straightening and fretting and panicking and never, ever enjoying the little beasts God has placed in your care.

Not your kids. You will drive THEM nuts. Snapping and training and taking all of the full-on spontaneity out of that thing called childhood. So what if he is eating Cheerios off the floor (a little added fiber)? So what if he is wearing the same shirt 4 days in a row? Everybody expects kids to be dirty, anyway. So what if he just dragged every blanket in the house into the living room floor and made a mound the size of Everest? This is what childhood IS. Deal with it.

Not your friends. You will drive them nuts, too. Nobody can live up to those standards. Even dear old Dr. Dobson says that the worst thing one mom can do to other moms is to clean up her house before they come over. We moms need to know we are all in the crazy mess called parenthood together.

There you have it. Standards. Sanity. Children. Pick two. 

Go ahead and enjoy your micromanaged, orderly, germ-free life pre-kids, but once those bundles of joy start piling up you are gonna have to change the game plan. If you try to maintain your high ideals with a growing family, you WILL go certifiably nuts, and drive everybody else crazy in the process. It just isn't worth it. Give it up and have fun with the chaos!


  1. I have apparently chosen children and (a marginal amount of ) sanity. I'm not sure standards were big deal before I had kids, and things have certainly gone down hill since then!!

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  3. Thanks for the experience of reading such truths early morning in Sweden! I pick children and vary between sanity and standards. But mostly I choose sanity. The difficult part is when the father of the children chooses the other thing - I choose sanity, he wants standards... Life is a challenge. But wonderful all the same! Thanks again!

  4. don't forget work..... most of the time I have to choose children and work, forget sanity or standards! Thanks - great encouragement :)