Nope, My Kids Aren't My Prison

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

In a very adult move on our part, we bought our first appliance the other day. Well, I spent hours researching online, only to be paralyzed with indecision, and Andrew went to Lowe's to buy the dishwasher that was closest to the one we had at our old house, which had such features as "actually gets dishes clean" and "doesn't have plastic parts that snap off on a daily basis" so that's a win.

Anyway, the appliance man came to install it this morning and was greeted at the screen door by the three littlest (ex-utero, at least) of our crew. I peeled them away from the glass and welcomed him in.

He glanced around, muttering, "Prison. Glad mine are all grown..."

Yikes! How does one respond to that? I'm pretty sure I chuckled and countered with, "Well, we have a lot of fun!"

Goodness! I mean, I understand it. Having a whole lot of little kids (5 kids here, #6 on the way, oldest is a newly-minted 7-year-old) is obviously a little bit nuts. Were I to live an idealistic, child-free life, obviously I wouldn't have to spend portions of my day wiping bottoms, preparing meals to exacting specifications (salad with goat cheese, plain lettuce, goat cheese but no lettuce, you name it), refereeing fights over who ate the last raspberry, or wrestling the dead bug out of the toddler's grasp before he manages to consume it.

These moments. Multiple times a day. But they're learning excellent conflict resolution skills, I promise!

But prison? I'd hardly call life with kids a prison! Sure, for the time being I'm somewhat beholden to their schedules and their needs. But (hey, here's where the similarity to prison comes in!) "if you do the crime, you do the time," right? We know where these babies keep coming from. And while life with five (or six, or ten) isn't exactly easier than life with just one or two, it's a heck of a lot more fun!

You know what makes it not fun? Thinking of yourself as imprisoned by your children. Counting down the days until they're off to daycare, or kindergarten, or college, or whenever you'll be "free" of them. So you can finally live your life!!! Is that really the point of parenthood? Making a couple babies, putting in the bare minimum of effort until you can farm their rearing off to somebody else, and then sitting back and resuming "life as usual" before you had kids?

Um, no. If having a child doesn't profoundly change your life, your marriage, your entirely family dynamic, something is wrong. And the change doesn't have to be a negative thing! Our lives are so much richer with each child we welcome. There's something incredible about seeing your children welcome a new baby into the world, and something wonderfully freeing about being able to just be with these awesome human beings.

Is it all sunshine and daisies? Of course not! You try prying your screaming children's fists out of each others hair while the toddler clings to your leg and wipes boogers all over your skirt... But I guarantee you, viewing your life with children as a prison isn't going to give you any sense of contentment in the life you have. Why not choose to be joyful about that with which you've been blessed?

I'll tell you right now, after that comment I spent the rest of the day a lot more content than usual, just seeing all the ways in which I'm so incredibly blessed to have these kids and be able to stay home with them.

So thanks, appliance man! We had a really great day building a Lego animal hospital, making lunch together, cutting sunflowers from the garden, and playing card games. And I appreciated every minute of it, thankful that my kids aren't a prison, but have actually opened my world and made me a far better person than I would be without them.

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