This piece originally appeared on The Today Show Parenting Team Blog in October 2018.
Each day with my girls, I find myself repeating the same words in my head, over and over again. These words have been collected from good friends and wise mentors throughout my years of parenting. I finally took a moment and wrote them down, posting them in a place of prominence in our home. If you’re anything like me, you need the daily reminder that, though it may feel like Groundhog Day, your ministry to your family really does matter to those you love.
When you have or anticipate a tough day with your family,
this is a reminder that the following things should not surprise you:
- With your four children comes an inordinate amount of work. They are your greatest joy, but also your greatest challenge.
- Regardless of how much food you cook, there is no one thing that all your children will eat without hesitation or complaint. This does not aggravate you; instead, it is a teaching moment for them to embody gratitude and appreciate your service to them.
- Your children are loud. You sometimes get migraines. These two things are not compatible. Go get the noise cancelling headphones and sulfite-free wine.
- You will not try to finish all the laundry, because that is an impossible task. If you think you have finished it, you are wrong. Someone will pee in their car seat or slide tackle their friend at soccer, and you will have to start all over.
- Your children are busy. This is by your own design, mostly so that you can have adult conversations on the side of a court while your kids chase a ball.
- The directions “clean up” and “organize” do not mean the same thing to your children as they do to you. You have tried to teach them your way, but they do not care for it. This no longer bothers you, as you will not bring them their homework at school when they can’t find it.
- Even if you start hours in advance, you will not be on time anywhere that you try to go. This does not annoy you, but instead, you have embraced your tardiness and are always sure to be pleasant when you arrive. If, by some miracle, you do arrive somewhere in a timely fashion, it will quickly be sabotaged by someone requiring a toilet or the discovery that someone doesn’t have any shoes.
- You try to enjoy childhood times of freedom and foolery, like summer vacation and Halloween. You do not like either of these, and have resolved to contribute to an idyllic childhood through other avenues.
- You do not care for shopping or stores, so you order everything that you can online. Nothing is gained by having four children in a store. It also doesn’t matter how many articles of clothing you buy your children, as they will only wear two outfits or will live in pajamas.
- It is fine to have dishes sitting in the sink. If you try to put them in the dishwasher, the children will hear you and come dirty up the clean ones you just put away.
- No matter what you give your children, they will always want more, especially if they have recently seen you giving anything to their sister. You are doing a good job. They are nurtured and loved, and that is all they need.
- You have four children under the age of 10. Let that sink in for a minute. This big, busy, full house was your dream, and it came true.