This Isn’t What I Thought It Would Be

We carved pumpkins this past weekend. It’s the first time we’ve carved pumpkins since before kids. That means it has been at least six years, probably more. There’s a reason we haven’t carved pumpkins in a long time. I don’t like it. It is messy, gross, time-consuming, and only moderately fun. It does seem like a rite of childhood and I’m not a complete curmudgeon… not to mention Bigs has been asking about doing it since he took a field trip to the pumpkin patch.

The weather was beautiful:  sunny, warm for October, and the slightest breeze. We set up outside on our patio. Bigs was immediately displeased with the fact that he would not be allowed to use the knife. I immediately realized that at 11:00 a.m. it was not too early for a glass of white wine. Let’s just call it Communion without the bread… okay maybe not. After we got the hole cut out to access the insides, we asked both kids if they wanted to help pull out the innards (my least favorite part.) Shockingly, both of them expressed their disgust and ran off to play (or in the case of Littles, talk to every stranger that walked by our house and introduce herself.) Approximately every three minutes Bigs would swing by to ask when we could start carving. After the fifth ETA request he exasperated said, “I just wanted to carve the pumpkin face.”

Me too, buddy.

Such is life, we anticipate one thing and get something completely unlike our expectations. Among my mom friends, I’ve heard a lot of “This isn’t how I imagined motherhood” and “I wish someone had told me _____ before I had kids” and even a few “I’m not sure I should have had kids” lately.  We have privately lambasted women who say such ridiculous things as, “Enjoy every moment. It goes so fast.” My tribe and I, we enjoy moments, but it is unreasonable to expect anybody to enjoy EVERY moment.

When I’m at work I understand how lucky I am to have my job. I love what I do! It would be nearly impossible to enjoy every moment that I’m at work though. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. There are good days and bad ones. Moments of greatness and others of complete and utter defeat. It’s nonsensical to believe that I should embrace the worst events, because before I know it I’ll be retired. God help me, I can’t wait for that day! Yes, there will be things I miss, but blow-ups, meltdowns, and angry people who are a-holes aren’t going to be something I mourn. We don’t need to tell each other that we will miss the down right slog of parenthood and the terrible moments. It’s just not true.

Motherhood is something sacred, but not so hallowed that it flawless. Perfectly imperfect, yes. Without strife, no. 75% of motherhood is like scooping out the guts of a pumpkin (never mind the separating the seeds from the flesh to roast). 20% is begging to use the knife and being told no (for good reason). The last 5% is all the good stuff – the parts we’ll remember, the stuff that gets posted to Facebook, and so fun we maybe even want to carve pumpkins the next year.

Next time you hear a mom or dad who is exhausted by parenting, remember it is like pumpkin carving — messy, gross, time-consuming, and only moderately fun. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t savor the good parts, but it also doesn’t mean we should set aside all that is difficult because the good somehow makes up for it.

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