Surviving Parenting with a Smile

Laughing Through the Laundry and Smiling Through the Spills

I honestly have not slept through the night in six years because of pregnancy and nursing babies. I don’t know what it’s like to have a kid use a towel more than once. I regularly lose my pants to toddlers trying to climb up my body.  Last week, my kid cleared off the shelf of glass snow globes in the airport gift shop during a tantrum. We ate Eggos for dinner last night. Today, another child insisted on wearing one unicorn slipper and one water shoe to run errands and then followed that with dumping yogurt all over our newly groomed Golden Retriever. This is my life. Every day. If it’s not the dog in need of another bath, it’s the smashed iPad, the banana shoved in a toilet, one kid cutting the other’s kids hair or my preschooler shaving off her eyebrow on picture day…and all I can do, being the ringmaster of this circus, is try to laugh.

While I’m guilty of losing my cool, calling my husband during baseball season saying, “I can’t do this anymore” or crying out of exhaustion, I know that these moments are all temporary. When people ask me how I manage, I respond, “How can you not laugh at my life?” I have seven children but it doesn’t really matter how many children you have because parenting is exhausting, frustrating and hard work.

As parents, we know that the tears of childhood fall fast…and that’s what I try to remind myself of in the midst of every public tantrum, spilled bowl of cereal or kid who pukes in the car. I know that these moments will be really funny at some point and the more I document them on social media and through photos, the easier it has become to deal with these tough situations. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t laugh at an old photo or video that has popped up on my Facebook feed. The videos of my most difficult child in public are now the funniest to watch. The photo montage of road trips where my teenagers were fighting over a USB port or where I had to rinse out a car seat diaper explosion with a McDonald’s hose are memories that we all laugh at now. The very first video I ever posted on Facebook, nine years ago when I was a single mother working three jobs, came after I needed physical assistance removing my child from the dentist after a violent reaction to anesthesia. I remember crying trying to load him with the hygienist’s help and then crying the entire way home. It had just been one of those days where everything had been going wrong. Yet I now look at that video of him eating ice cream when he calmed down and I miss that little face…miss that little boy, who is now 13, and the moments where he just needed his mom.

When you’re on the verge of your next “Mommy Meltdown,” trying taking a photo of your little ones or a video of your difficult child and make a mental note to include that in the collection you’ll share at their future wedding. Beyond anything I have learned as a parent is knowing that our days are long but these years are so short. There will be a last diaper change, a last toddler meltdown and a last baseball practice to drive to so in the chaos of parenthood, try to smile through the spills, tolerate the tantrums and laugh through the laundry! You’ll never realize the importance of a moment until it becomes a memory.