At the beginning of the school year, Punkin had to make a timeline of her life. We marked off each year that she had been alive, and added pictures of important events. She brought that project back home this week, and as I looked over it, I realized something profound:
We are incredibly blessed.
Our lives over the past 7-ish years have not always been super easy. We have lost dear loved ones, jobs, gone without heat, sacrificed a meal or two so our children could eat full meals. We’ve watched our newborn lay in the intensive care unit, hooked up to monitors depicting her erratic and nearly uncontrollable heart rhythm. I’ve spent close to 5 months straight so sick I could barely function. Yet somehow, none of those things showed up on Punkin’s time line.
There are times when, gasp, I feel less than adequate in the motherhood department. I lose my temper. I start checking the clock around 9 AM to see if it’s bedtime yet. I give my kids one birthday party each, kept as reasonably low-budget as humanly possible. I contemplate the chances of being able to convince my toddler that duct-taping her to a chair is actually a fun new game. I buy my kids fast food that is so disgusting, it would be probably be safer to feed them a bottle of vegetable oil. Coated in sugar.
But Punkin doesn’t remember how hard things were after Daddy lost his job. She doesn’t realize that we’ve never spent $300 on a birthday party, and we probably never will. She doesn’t remember how irritated I would get after 400 requests for juice when I was throwing up 7 times a day. She doesn’t even remember space heaters and extra blankets when the furnace was “broken.” What she does remember is our one-day trip to Disney world, courtesy of Gimpy, my dad. She remembers wonderful sleepovers at Grandma’s house, tea parties at Meema’s house, bringing her baby sisters home from the hospital, picnics in the park, days at the beach, our family vacation to the local lake with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. (By the way, ask any adult, and this was the kind of “vacation” that makes National Lampoon look like a relaxing getaway. I cried at least twice in the span of 4 days.)
Today’s parenting lesson was one for me: our kids don’t need a perfect life. But they do need to know that even when it’s imperfect, we still love them. And when they are imperfect, we still love them. And we will never, ever, go on a huge family vacation to the lake again. No matter how much we love them.