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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

All For the 5%

I spend about 95% of my day, everyday, doing crap I don't really want to do.

Task upon task that individually are mind numbingly boring, but taken as a whole are nausea inducing. It is 10:30 in the morning and I have made breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, done laundry, changed diapers, brushed hair, said "No" more times than I'd like to, mediated arguments, cleaned a bathroom toilet and surrounding floor area, and picked up toys I tripped over.

Those are the big things. In between them were innumerable small things like unraveling my daughter from the roll of scotch tape that she wrapped herself in. I have made a pot of coffee three times because I keep forgetting about it until I smell that burned coffee smell signaling it has been sitting on the burner too long. Or how about holding your child down, trying to get a piece of granola out of their eye after they decided to put the box of it on their head.

And the day is still young yet, who knows what other excitement is still in store for me.

There are days when I stand in the middle of my house and wish that a stray bullet would take me down. Not that it is likely since I don't live in the inner city or out in hunting country, but you know what I mean.

Does it mean I don't love my children? Of course not. I love them more than anything and I love being their mother. It is possible to love your children with every fiber of your being and simultaneously hate the grunt work that goes into being a parent.

But then there is the 5%. The tiny percentage of the job of parenting that makes it worthwhile.

Today my 5% was my infant son smiling at me for the first time. Not just smiling into space. He looked *at me* and smiled. I called my other children over and they all stood around him trying to make him smile again.

I watched them for a few minutes and felt my parenting cup fill back up. For a few minutes no one was fighting, no one was crying, no one needed anything. We were all enjoying the moment. The sort of moment I thought parenting would be solely made up of when I signed up for the job.

And then I turned around. My 1 yr old daughter stood there with a huge smile on her face. In those few minutes she had managed to strip herself naked, except for a broken Christmas ornament worn on her wrist, get a magic marker, and draw all over the kitchen cabinets and herself. And I felt a range of emotions all at once. It was funny, annoying, exasperating, funny, heart melting, frustrating, did I mention funny? Ah, the schizophrenia that is parenting.

For a moment I wondered, in which percentage did this belong.


Blogger Beth said...

When you were on your first kid and realized that parenting wasn't all cooing and smiles but mostly sleepless nights and screaming, did it ever make you not want to have more kids? How do you have the paitence for it all?

1:51 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Interestingly enough Beth, I always knew I wanted a lot of kids. Granted my idea of what constituted alot has changed.

I am a good mother. I am a lousy wife. It is the wifely things that wear on me... cleaning, cooking, laundry. Being married to a neat freak doesn't help either.

I have infinite patience for crying infants and young children behaving in developmentally appropriate ways, no matter how "annoying" the behavior might be.

But when faced with a messy house, a sink full of dirty dishes, a dishwasher full of clean dishes, and a bunch of food that I am supposed to turn into delectable meals, well *that* stresses me out. It is the repetitiveness of it all. Especially because I'd much rather be playing with my kids.

7:13 PM  
Blogger thicket dweller said... we have the same child?

Posted by the one who has spent many, many hours cleaning marker off of things I never knew could be marked.

10:07 PM  
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7:11 PM  

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