Thankful for the Chaos of Parenthood

S Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph

chaos with kids

As I am writing this, chaos is reigning supreme in my house. My eight-year-old twins are playing some full-body-contact version of ring-around-the-rosie where every round ends in shrieking and a veritable mountain of skinny arms and legs piled up on the living room rug. My eleven-year-old son is reclined on the couch simultaneously playing Minecraft with one eye, yelling at the mountain of body parts to move from in front of the television he is watching with the other eye, and loudly lamenting the fact that I have not yet decided what we are having for dinner. A 40-pound boxer is perched on the back of a chair—she doesn’t understand that cats perch, dogs do not—barking at anyone and everyone who has the audacity to walk down her sidewalk. My wife is at work—on a Sunday—but due home just in time for the dinner I have yet to make.

And I sit in the midst of it all.

Exhausted.

This is the time of year when my thoughts turn to the things for which I am most thankful. You would think my list would include things like…oh, I don’t know…8 pm bedtimes. Peeing alone. That silent ten minutes that exist from the moment I wake up in the morning until I am assaulted by sharp elbows and knees climbing into my bed. Those rare days when my 6th grader comes home from school with no math homework. Take-out Chinese food. Playdates at other people’s houses. Paying a babysitter $50 to go have a $5 taco with my wife—alone.

You would think these are the things for which I am most thankful. The moments when I get a brief respite from being “momma.” From being on-call and on demand twenty-four hours a day.

But insanity comes with the job. And tonight, the thing I am most thankful for is the chaos itself.

I realize the utter absurdity of this statement—I know I sound completely bug-ass nuts—but it’s the truth. This too shall pass and, when it does, I will miss evenings like this. I will miss the noise and the nonstop activity.

The day will come when the constant space-invading hugs and cuddles—the sense that my body has become nothing more than a jungle gym— will be a thing of the past. Cool kids do not hug.

The day will come when Phineas and Ferb blaring from the television will be replaced with headphones. Behind closed doors.

The day will come when my children will stop asking me 1000 questions a day. They’ll think they have all the answers.

The day will come when no one climbs into my bed on Saturday mornings. There will be no rancid morning breath to inhale as someone whispers, “I love you, momma.”

The day will come when no one cares what I am making for dinner. They’ll all have other plans anyway.

The day will come when no one needs a ride to choir. Or gymnastics. Or home from school. The day will come when my little girl climbs into a car full of friends and drives away without a single look back.

The day will come when I go from arguably the wisest woman on the planet to an irrelevant annoyance in the eyes of my children.

These days are right around the corner. My children are tweens. They stand on the precipice of all hell breaking loose in their little hormone-infused bodies. The chaos. The constant neediness. The craziness of it all. It will eventually disappear as my children come into their own. As they discover who they are and what they are capable of doing. As I am forced to slowly let go and let them grow up.

But today—right now in this moment—I am excruciatingly thankful to be their mom. I am grateful to the very core of my soul for these moments of chaos in a fleeting childhood. The craziness of it all.

This Thursday, as we all embrace gratitude, I will hug my loud, rambunctious, impulsive, messy, chaotic children close. And I will thank my lucky stars that I was given such a remarkable and unexpected gift.

Photo Credit: Lauren Hammond –Kid

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