Our little family had a wonderful weekend. We went to a kid-friendly fundraiser, danced at a festival, took the kids to eat, saw friends, saw family, played dolls, built Legos, read books, went to Church, played soccer, and ended with a home-cooked family supper around the table (beginning with prayers and ending with belly laughs). We got the kids down before 8pm so we could all get some much needed rest before the new week ahead. A typical, near-perfect Lafayette family weekend. Most of which was Facebook worthy for family and friends near and far to see!
Of course not. Every one of us – 2 grown adults and 3 children – had good, bad and ugly moments for the world, or each other, to see. Daddy spilled a can of beans (or was it oats?) all over the floor and got frustrated with himself. The 7-year old got caught trying to wake his little sister while she was supposed to be napping. The 3 year old got red-in-the-face, crying mad because someone took a bite of her pizza when she wasn’t looking. The 5 year old performed an Oscar-worthy fit because she was asked politely 10 times (then later told) to wear her school shoes to Church. This only hours before another one of our tiny humans refused to play in the soccer game we dragged everyone out to watch in 90-degree heat (wake up, October!). And Mommy? Well, as expected, she handled everything just beautifully and with such poise and grace…
Kidding aside, let’s get into some real talk. Before you judge a book by its cover (or FB post or temper tantrum), pause for a moment to think about what went into making those magical moments appear. Or consider what happened behind the scenes just before or after those parenting fails occurred that you witnessed at the playground or fair: when a mom scolded her child for not obeying (though you didn’t hear the gentle reminders the first 100 times); when a father caved and gave his children whatever candy they were whining for, just to keep them happy (read: quiet) for a few extra minutes to keep the peace (read: sanity); or when exhausted parents throw their hands up in the middle of their child’s game, call it quits, and go home. It was 90 degrees, she’s only 3, and she just stood there bawling!
This, my parenting tribe, is far more important than all the good, bad, and ugly stuff we actually “see.”
My night didn’t actually end after the kids went down. I spent another hour finishing laundry so my daughter would have the skorts she wanted to wear instead of a jumper. And so my other daughter would have a clean napmat along with her favorite blankie. Then I made sure there weren’t rotting snacks, melted candy, or a collection of rusted nails hiding in backpacks. I made sure my son had his favorite thermos ready to go, and that his belt was laid out with his uniform so he wouldn’t have to search for it during the mad morning rush.
My husband didn’t turn in to read a book or watch his favorite Sunday evening show, either. After he read to the girls and helped me tuck the kids into bed (no less than 3 times, which included searching for a hiding 3 year old), he took to his laptop in a quiet corner to handle some time-sensitive business. This was hours after he went grocery shopping with the 7 year old, cooked dinner, and did dishes. And before all that, he took all three kids out to give me a breather to catch up on daily tasks and work, in preparation for the week ahead.
What you don’t see on the field, at the dance recital, or in Church are the hours, energy, and physical and emotional labor that go into making every memory and milestone happen – by ALL the ‘superhero’ moms and dads out there, hiding behind masks and capes when others aren’t paying attention.
What you don’t see are the late nights parents stay up late tying-up loose ends before tossing and turning in bed worrying about jobs and bills and future plans. Or worrying if they’re child will get teased again for being the shortest one in class. Or praying their children are not teasing others at school. Or beating themselves up for raising their voice again. Or praying for their own health or marriage.
What you don’t see is a mom’s spontaneous trip to Target to surprise her 5 year old daughter with a new toy, since she shared hers with Little Sister who never gave them back. That mom did it simply to see the joy on her 5 year old’s face, only to witness her sharing and playing with Little Sister again while using their sweet little imaginations.
What you don’t see are the one thousand extra kisses a mom steals from her children’s plump little cheeks and sweaty heads while they are in dreamland; while simultaneously thanking God for them, their health and that they’re finally asleep, before asking Him to protect them always.
What no one else sees is what other parents are going through, doing behind the scenes, thinking in their heads, and feeling with their hearts. All to ensure their children are healthy and happy, above all else, with hopes that their children become educated and well-rounded adults that will someday be in charge of our world (much too soon). And all while trying to make precious memories along the way, and never miss a beat.
All those unnoticed things are driven by instinct, necessity, and unconditional love; not validation. As parents, we are all going through similar things on some level. We live it and do it every single day, no matter the circumstances.
We can’t see or be seen doing these things all the time because you can’t actually see just how much we love and do with our whole hearts. But, as parents, each of us already knows exactly how that feels.