You should have told me that having children was going to try my soul to the very limits. That parenting is one job that lasts all day and into the night and doesn't slow down or give me a break or just wait one minute or ever, ever stop.
You should have told me that when I say I'm having a bad day, no one will stop running around the house screaming about T-Rexes. It used to mean something to admit I was having a bad day- you would bring me a coffee or let me sleep in a bit later or slip me a $20 and tell me to go see a movie or just give me a hug and tell me the sun will come out tomorrow. Having a bad day is the universal symbol for just not feeling full on and everyone in my path knows to give me a little more room. Just for today. A bad day is a 24 hour pass to be a little selfish. You should have told me I was giving up that privilege when I had kids.
You should have told me that there was a possibility that I would have two children who are FULL ON, all the time. That they would be constantly moving, exploring, talking, running, singing, destroying, climbing, asking, swinging, painting, laughing... some kind of activity every moment of every day. You should have told me that I thought I was a full on Mama, but I actually like sitting quietly and reading sometimes. Or not sharing the bathroom when I poop. I like to make coffee in the morning without trying to figure out what sound an octopus makes. You should have told me that I was an extrovert who likes to be alone sometimes.
You should have told me about the weight of responsibility that would crush my shoulders. That two human beings depending on me for their food, clothing, safety, development, and dropping everything when they scream would feel like a giant foot on my chest sometimes. That all of my skills of reason and empathy and encouragement and nuture are completely worthless in the wake of an epic preschool meltdown. You should have told me that it is possible to feel empty and overflowing at the same time.
You should have told me that I would want to run. That the only escape from 24 hours a day of being a Mama is getting in my car and driving towards the Rocky Mountains. That all the love in the world is no match some days for just wanting to crawl deep inside my own head to get away. You should have told me that I could feel so broken and so bad at something humans have been doing for millions of years. Being a parent.
You should have told me that the most important relationship in the world would take a back seat during this season of life. That my best friend would one day look at me and say "I don't feel like you think about me at all anymore". And we would both know it was true. That I would feel like I had to make decisions between them and him, and because they are smaller and less understanding, they get my prime time and he gets the exhausted evening hours. You should have told me that I would fall asleep during sex or glaze over while he is telling me about his day or stop reading the book we decided to read together or get more excited about book club night then when he surprises me with a handle of gin and a bag of fresh limes. You should have told me it's hard to keep the magic alive. (it's hard to keep my eyes open)
You should have told me about the moments when I lock myself in the closet and push my fists into my eyes to feel something that hurts worse then what I just muttered under my breath at my toddler.
You should have told me that the hand of a friend helping my child cross the monkey bars can feel like the breath of God in the moments when my own strength is spent. That my husband on his knees begging me to have sex with him like it's a second marriage proposal would make both of us laugh in relief, shrug off all the expectations and just fool around. That sharing an egg custard on the back porch watching a dog run around the backyard is better then any therapy. You should have told me that becoming friendly with my post partum belly is better then skipping handmade waffles for breakfast. Too much energy wasted in trying to be something I'm not or can't be or don't want to.
You should have told me to relax more. To lower my expectations. To allow more people to see the ugly bits (the good ones will love you more for them). To trust God and believe that He wouldn't have given me these children if I couldn't raise them. That parenting is a hoot and I take myself way too seriously almost all of the time. That what I believe is most important will come out in my daily actions and not in the wordy lectures that I give after a misbehavior.
You should have told me that I would need all my energy and courage and strength and wisdom and grace to do this job- to be a parent. That very rarely is it ONE instance or ONE decision or ONE moment that ruins people. Sometimes the best thing to do is laugh. Or cry. Or just sit down and keep my mouth shut. That I was wasting too much time on things that wouldn't last or wouldn't matter or wouldn't guide our ship towards the waters we want to be in. The waters that will crash over us and make us hold on to each other and become a family.
You should have told me how much I would love being a parent. That the bad days never last and the exhaustion always fades and I wouldn't want to run too far before I long to hear their voices again. That seeing their sleepy faces peering into our bedroom in the morning erases all thoughts of life without them. You should have told me that I would love them a crushing amount. That forgiving myself for my horrible impatience and starting over with a deep breath actually WORKS. Counting to 10 isn't just for toddlers...
You should have told me that I can do this.
Because I can. (if you do it with me)