Thursday, April 18, 2013

why we're not in the running for "Parents of the Year"

We didn't buy our kids Easter baskets filled with chocolate bunnies. Nor did we buy them birthday presents. We didn't even buy them Christmas presents. But that's not the only reason we're not in the running for "Parents of the Year." Please allow me to try to explain.

Our house is less than clean. There's a very faint smell of spoiling food in the refrigerator because we don't take time to clean it out often. There's a strong smell of "boy" just about everywhere. There are hand smears on EVERY window, and there are weird sticky spots all over the kitchen floor. (Do kitchen floors ever return to normal after kids? I hope so.) I don't cook (much). Brecken doesn't wear shoes. (But seriously, does a crawler even need shoes?) Brecken (9 months) and Brody (2 years) almost always end up in our bed before sunrise (that's right, judge us now!). I did not breastfeed Brecken any longer than 5 months (judge me even more harshly on that one). Brody is slightly addicted to Duck Dynasty. Our bathroom is, well, disgusting, and that's not just because of the gold chrome-plated hardware and the torn linoleum (Bathroom Crashers, where are you?).

The truth is, we are nowhere near perfect parents or people. And we are pretty happy that way.

It's tiring trying to be perfect, and perfect is boring. We are tired anyway, and we are still far from perfect. If our story had been "perfect" we would be the most boring people you'd ever meet, and I wouldn't have much to write about.

It's tiring trying to be a good mom while working full time, sometimes working 15-16 hours a day (hello volleyball coaching season!), only to go to bed at 11 and get up at 5:30 (and often a few times in the middle to care for babies) only to do it all again the next day. I am not complaining...I just sometimes feel that people do not entirely understand the busy-ness involved in working full-time, then coming home to try to do all of the things that good stay-at-home moms do. (And I do know that stay-at-home moms who are working with their kids are busy; trust me, I know that and I respect you for it!)

If we really worked at budgeting and we took an even harder look at our budget, I might be able to be a stay-at-home mom, albeit a stay-at-home mom who would truly have to stay home and who would never see her husband because he'd have to work 2-3 extra jobs. I would love to stay home with our boys and clean house and make home-made bread and scones (overgeneralizing, I know), but we don't believe that's what I'm supposed to do, at least not right now.

Right now, we have greater goals than our own happiness or even the happiness of our kids. We are not saints; God has just opened our eyes to hurts of others that are hard to ignore. Do I sometimes want a huge kitchen and new appliances, along with a spa-like bathroom en suite? Sure. (Take one look at my Pinterest boards and you'll see that I am slightly into nice houses.) Do I sometimes want to spoil the boys? Sure. Do I sometimes want to stay at home with the boys and snuggle (and even discipline and clean toilets)? Yup. Do I sometimes blow a bit of our budget at Target and get texts from my husband when I'm in there reminding me to "focus"? YES. But that's when I must remind myself of the bigger picture.

The bigger picture involves thinking about and loving others.
There are millions and millions of kids out there who barely get by each day because they don't have any food in the house There are also millions and millions of kids out there in orphanages or foster homes, just waiting to be loved forever by a family. They don't have anyone to snuggle with at night or anyone to kiss their "owies" when they fall. And they sure don't have the security that comes with the fact that NO MATTER WHAT, they have a family that loves them and will always call them "son" or "daughter."

And that is why we don't buy much for our kids. (That and the fact that we have 5 unopened Christmas presents in our garage--because our families are good to our kids and spoil them for us--and we don't have room in the house for all of those toys!) We are saving our money to change the situation of one--maybe more than one--child. And we think that's important enough to make me work full-time, watch our spending, not buy Brecken any shoes ;o) and not buy Brody any toys.

The bigger picture also involves the future of our kids. 
Our kids might not get brand new cars when they turn 16 (FACT: They WILL NOT get new cars. They will get clunkers.), and they probably won't have all of their college paid for by us. (Here's hoping for a few scholarships!) We are saving some money for their education, but we probably won't have the million dollars saved that apparently it is going to cost to put a few kids through college. Our kids will have to be okay with that.

They won't get really expensive birthday presents from us. Shoot, they will apparently be lucky to get presents at all (in the early years, anyway). I assure you, neither one of them had a clue we didn't get them Christmas, birthday or Easter presents, and they are just fine.

Some parts of the "American Dream" are not included in our dreams for our kids. Our greatest hope for the future of our kids is that they love and trust God with all of their hearts, and that they love others. If your dreams are different from ours, or you do buy your kids nice gifts or make home-made bread, that's okay. In no way are we judging you. (Uh...did you read that part up there about the dirty house and shoeless kids?) We are kind of weird, and not always in a good way.

So our house may never be clean, which I will admit sometimes does drive me crazy, and our kids will never have the hottest gadgets to play with, but that doesn't mean we are slackers or that our kids are deprived. It might just mean we will never be up for "Parents of the Year," and we are definitely okay with that.


PS -- If you can relate to this post, check out this one over at "It's Almost Naptime." LOVED IT.

PPS -- On this date one year ago we finally finalized Brody's adoption!

PPPS -- The other day my friend asked me if I knew Bradlee was such an amazing person when I married him. My answer was yes and no. He was pretty amazing then, but he just keeps getting better. So he might be up for "Husband of the Year."  -- For the 5th year in a row.