COLUMN: Learning to love the good, the bad, and the ugly

When I returned to work after my second maternity leave, my husband and I decided to take a 'divide-and-conquer' approach.

“Enjoy them while they’re young – it goes by so fast!”

This is what I hear most often when I tell people I have two young children. It usually comes from people whose children are now adults.

My husband and I are extraordinarily lucky to have two healthy and beautiful children – an almost four-year-old daughter and an almost two-year-old son.

Admittedly, we dove head-first into parenthood rather blindly five years ago, blissfully unaware of what it would do to our carefree, newlywed lives.

Now, when I hear childless friends talk about sleeping till noon, binge-watching Netflix or taking a spur-of-the-moment trip out of town, thoughts of such a life seem like a fairy tale to me.

When I returned to work after my second maternity leave, my husband and I – faced with astronomical daycare expenses – decided to take a “divide-and-conquer” approach.

We work staggered shifts to reduce daycare hours – a bonus for our bank account, but with no days off together week in and week out, the set-up has put a fair amount of strain on our family.

Our house is in ruins, my husband and I are starting to forget what the other looks like and by the end of any given day we are collapsing in exhaustion to enjoy a few moments of peace before starting it all over again the next morning.

We’re trying to “enjoy it,” we really are. But this hardly feels like the idyllic family life we imagined.

We make every effort to squeeze in fun, memorable activities on the rare chance we can spend the day together. Over the holidays, we were thrilled at the prospect of sharing Christmas with our two little ones, and visiting family and friends – until the kids both got sick on Christmas Eve and we spent the next several days in a sea of runny noses and Vick’s Vaporub.

It makes me wonder if people with grown children are looking back at these early days with rose-coloured glasses.

The truth is, I know my kids will grow up way too fast. In fact, they already are.

A few weeks ago, my two-year-old was throwing a mini-tantrum as I was trying to feed him some oatmeal. His older sister grabbed the bowl and spoon from my hand, and casually said “I got this” as she fed her instantly calmed brother.

I suddenly saw myself in the not-too distant future, wishing for one more game of This Little Piggy or the chance to watch Frozen for the thousandth time.

I realized these are the small, heart-swelling moments that make raising children such an amazing, indescribable – albeit exhausting and stressful – experience.

We’re never going to have the perfect Hallmark Card life – if such a thing really exists. So instead, we embrace the chaos by casting the vacuum cleaner aside in exchange for a bucket of Lego or a collection of plastic dinosaurs, clean floors be damned.

After all, when our kids are grown, we won’t remember our pristine house or credit-card balances. We’ll be longing for sticky hands, muddy boots and yes, even a toddler tantrum. And we’ll no doubt be asking ourselves how on Earth it went by so fast.

Melissa Smalley is a reporter at the Peace Arch News, a sister paper to The Leader.

 

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP investigating after ‘sudden death’ of man found with critical injuries

Police say a man is dead after being found laying on the ground in the 13300-block of 114th Avenue

Kids Boost Immunity honours Surrey school for vaccine donations

Elementary students donate more than 3,000 vaccinations to UNICEF

Teen charged with possession of a loaded firearm after incident at Whalley park

Surrey RCMP say 17-year-old boy allegedly found in possession of loaded handgun

Pug life: Waggish dog names listed in White Rock

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered with the city

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Loud jets from Abbotsford are annoying residents of tiny U.S. town

Flights out of Abbotsford airport turn over border town and annoy residents, Sumas mayor says

Olympic auditions return to Lower Mainland

Event an opportunity for unknown athletes to shine and, maybe, change sports

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C. pedophile wins appeal after violating court order

Kelly Glen Isbister’s sentence was cut by the BC Court of Appeal

Most Read