This past week, while two of my daughters and their husbands vacationed in Mexico, I was responsible for taking care of three of my grandchildren. Not a big deal, since I have been caring for children since I was 11 years old. For some reason, though, I forgot the 24/7 specifics about what is entailed.
The way I used to describe raising children was like living in the midst of a tornado surrounded by a hurricane while stumbling through an earthquake with Earth spinning out of control, because the universe in which I had lived prior to having kids changed dramatically the moment they arrived.
This week I had a chance to relive those wondrous experiences. Spending a week with three grandchildren, between the ages of 2 and 9, reminded of how every little moment is filled with all the little details I had forgotten:
Dishes continually pile up in the sink, multiplying before my eyes, because as soon as I wash one, more of them appear;
Laundry grows even after I just filled up the washer, threw clothes in the dryer, folded and hung up all the clothes from the previous load, and what? - the hamper is full again;
Clean up messes (continually) and pick up toys and projects;
Gather homework from the night before – pack lunches into back packs;
Make sure everyone brushes teeth and hair;
Get everyone out of the house on time;
Make sure homework gets done when they come home from school;
Prepare dinner, give baths, put on pajamas;
Finally, get them in bed at a reasonable hour so they will be fresh in the morning. And then the day starts all over again.
Remembering my own experiences and living through them this past week, I don't think parenting today is any more hectic than it was when I was raising kids. In the days when I also had a full- or sometimes several part-time jobs and I was going to school full-time, I had to be ultra-organized, especially when my kids had numerous after-school activities to attend. After spending a week with my grandkids, I'm amazed that I performed all of those functions – alone. But I did!
Since 1969, I have been on hyperdrive, raising four children, maintaining a home, working, and looking forward to retirement. Today I'm retired, but I'm still in hyperdrive. My youngest daughter graduated from high school in 2002. So for over 30 years, I lived as a maniacal mom, frantically trying to get everything completed within a reasonable period of time. Often I failed. We were late to a basketball game this week by 2 minutes, because the game had already begun.
After a whirlwind week, I had prepared my grandkids for their parents return. The week was over and the kids would awaken yesterday morning with both parents home. They were so excited, and so was I – I made it through the week! I have to admit, though – last night I slept for 9 hours!
So for all you single moms (and single dads) who are living in that hurricane-wrapped tornado, please know that one day you, too, will look back and wonder how you made it through these times. Do yourself a favor and take time today to congratulate yourselves and reward yourself once in a while, because one day you'll forget the day-to-day things – unless you offer to care for your grandkids while their parents are away – and then it will all come back to you as it did to me! And as far as retirement is concerned, I'm not really sure what that is yet.
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