Moms are the swiss army knives of real life. We correct homework, bandage wounds, pay bills, pick weeds, make applesauce, frame crayon art, paint furniture, organize cubbies, play Barbies, tie shoes, read books, and dissect shoelaces that have been tied incorrectly.
In short, we do lots of stuff.
Our families can assume we are willing to do anything, though. That simply is not the case. We have our pride. It isn't easy to maintain our dignity in the midst of cleaning vomit and explaining how imaginary characters are able to fly using sparkle power, and yet we must.
Here are ten roles I refuse to play, and jobs I refuse to do. No matter how many whiny children beg, I will not ever, never, forever no, not going to even consider, ever-never-ever be the following:
10. A walking trash can. At some point in time, I have given my children the impression that if they have trash, I would love to be responsible for it. They try to hand me all sorts of things: sticky Popsicle wrappers, unwanted fliers from museums, plastic SOLO cups they fish out of the backseat, stickers from the doctors office, lollipop sticks, and snotty Kleenex. I say the same line every time this happens: "I am not a trash can." Because seriously, I'm not.
9. A scapegoat for all their problems. I suppose it's inevitable that any and all fingers will point at the mama because for the formative years of a child's life, their whole world revolves around you. You provide milk from your body for them, you kiss the booboos after Daddy tells them to "shake it off", and you ask "how high" if they say "jump" in some really cute and sweet way. Eventually, though, these kids need to be weaned off the idea that you can make the rain stop so their football game will go on. They need to ask their dad for help opening the milk jug when he's sitting next to them, instead of shouting at you through the locked bathroom door that they want a bowl of cereal. Dear children, I did not invent time, and although your life began inside me, that kind of miracle is rare for me. Back off a little, dear ones.
8. A DJ in the car. I don't mind turning on the music. I also don't mind slipping in a CD that someone wants to hear. However, when four backseat rockstars start shouting out which track they want played next, or arguing over whether or not we should listen to their favorite jam again, I'm done here. I am not a DJ. I am driving a car, in traffic, and I don't want to die because while I'm trying to find my daughter's "awesomest song", her brother is throwing things at her head for saying "awesomest" again and again and again. Peace out, my people. Silence is golden.
7. A short order cook. I cook one thing for dinner. There may be two options at lunch. Breakfast is cereal, yogurt, or toast. If my kids don't enjoy the fare we have provided, I am really sad for them, and I hope they like tomorrow's food better. Someday they will be grown up and they can cook whatever they like, or eat whatever their spouse makes or the army feeds them. The end.
6. A doormat. Mamas are often the safest people in a child's life. I personally believe we are meant to be that for our kids. The wonderful thing about that is they tell us everything. They horrible part about that is they tell us everything. They vent to us. They emotionally vomit on us. They let their anger rage around us. They know we love them no matter what and it is easy to take advantage of that. But at some point, a kid with a mean, gnarly attitude needs to go let a little steam off alone and then come back for a hug when they feel better. Even mamas need boundaries.
5. A permanent bed buddy. In our family, we are not co-sleepers. I can barely share a king size bed with my husband and comfortably rest. If you add a child in there, that's called no-sleeping. Occasionally, a sick baby has resided in our bed. Our youngest also has mastered the ability to slide into our bed in the middle of the night unnoticed. I generally wake up uncomfortable about an hour later, think how cute it is that she's there, and then I take her back to her room so I can get back to sleep. I know there are all kinds of lovely benefits to the family bed, but we will have to survive without them, because the benefit of actual sleep outweighs all of them for me.
4. A general. I will not provide my children with constant orders and assignments. As much as I would love a house that is spic and span, quiet and exceedingly efficient, I just can't do it. I don't want them to only know how to follow orders, and I don't want to micromanage their lives. It's exhausting to try to manage my own life, much less theirs. I'm sure there are better ways to deal with dishes and laundry than I have implemented. A more diligent mom could probably teach them to put their shoes IN the basket by the door instead of NEAR the basket by the door. But, we have a lot of fun together, I only occasionally feel the need to rally a cleaning army, and they are making incremental progress towards neater habits. I'm content with that for now.
3. Google. I am very grateful that my children think I know so much. But I am not Google. I don't know why the wheels on cars look like they spin backwards on commercials. I don't know how an electric guitar works. I don't know what year Beethoven was born, or the acid level of the juice they are drinking. I also do not want to spend all day as their personal google hound, searching for those answers. Remember the library- that place our parents took us when we had questions about stuff? That place is awesome. Let's go there more often.
2. An ATM. I realize this is only the beginning of this season, but my children are slowly learning that money doesn't grow on trees. The other night my oldest saw the receipt from our family dinner at a restaurant, and he was aghast at the cost of feeding six people. We gently broke it to him that life is expensive. Shockingly, I don't think it really sank into his nine year old brain. The lessons of money are hard to teach, but we are doing our best to steward them well, and not to just shell out the dough as if we have an endless supply. Because, unfortunately our funds are actually quite limited.
1. A video game arcade. There are exactly zero games on my phone. There are exactly zero games on my laptop. When we are in restaurants or waiting somewhere boring, we have exactly zero electronic devices out. We talk about our days, discuss our dreams, read books, tell stories, play I spy, play cards, name our favorite movies, and play twenty questions. Sometimes I look around in the middle of all the relational work this takes, and I see all the people staring at their phones and all the kids playing on their devices and I try to freeze the memory in my heart. The work is worth the effort. You know what's not on social media? My family. You know what none of my emails are about? How much I love my children. You know who isn't texting me? The people who are most important in my life. You know what my kids can't build on minecraft, and I can't ever fit into 140 characters? Self-control and the ability to wait patiently and just breathe....