It’s fair to say that we are in the thick of parenting right now. (Paw Patrol is literally playing in the background as I write this.) Five beautiful kids, toddlers to preteens. Which means we’re talking about playground politics AND consent AND cultural appropriation AND potty training on any given day.
Sometimes people look at our daily chaos and say, “Oh, enjoy it now— little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. Just wait.”
To which I want to say, a) merciful heavens please shut your face, and b) LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.
Because here is the thing: I actually need to believe that it’s all going to get easier, not harder, so that I can keep going. (Yes, even if that’s an illusion. For reals. It’s a good, benevolent, helpful illusion and I’m keeping it.) More importantly, all the hard work we’re doing right now is like strength training so we’ll be ready for those teenager years. It feels like an investment we’re making in who our family will be in 1, 5, and 10 years.
Luckily, we don’t have to do it all at the same time— we don’t have to help with the college search and wipe up baby spills the same day (at least not for the same kid). When you’re arguing with your teenager, you don’t also have to remind them not to eat the markers FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY.
Whether you’re parenting or building a business or doing aerial yoga on that corporate ladder, nothing is more maddening than being told, “Ohhh, just wait, this is the easy part!” because nothing is the easy part when you’re in the thick of it.
It’s only later that we can look back nostalgically and say, “Oh that time when I was a broke beatnik artist bookstore clerk was so romantic…” because we’ve forgotten how terrifying it was and how bad so many things smelled back then.
We all get bigger. And braver. In fact, you do 47 things every day now that used to be mystifying and terrifying… without even thinking about them. Like walk. And drive. And make the can opener work. And open your own cheese string packages.
But the problem is, as you’ve gotten bigger, so have the puzzles life throws at you. You mastered tying your shoes but then they want you to DANCE in them! And then you master geometry but then you have to file your taxes! It’s a little overwhelming, isn’t it?
But the worst are the mean voices telling you that it shouldn’t even be that hard. That everyone else is really not having a problem with things. That maybe you’re just not as committed as other people are. Because see how everybody else is swimming along more swimmingly?
Do you ever feel like this in your own life? Like you’re swimming as fast as you can, just giving it your all, but someone folds their arms, tilts their head, and suggests nicely, “Have you ever thought of being more grateful while you do that? Also maybe a pink swimsuit would look more graceful?”
You would be forgiven for smacking such a person. You have my actual permission.
None of us need anyone else in our lives telling us how we could do better. Most of us already have plenty of that going on in our own heads anyway, thank you very much.
Because I’m guessing you’re already swimming your freaking heart out.
Here’s what I want to say to you instead: YOU ARE DOING HARD THINGS EVERY SINGLE DAY AND I AM CHEERING YOU ON AND YOU’VE GOT THIS AND THAT SWIMSUIT MAKES YOUR WHOLE AURA SPARKLE!!!!!
I think I had some other things to say, but that was the most important part, and Paw Patrol is melting my brain cells.
You are a cathedral. Everyone is faking it on Instagram. You are a fierce swimmer. You’ve done scarier things than this before; you’re going to be fine. And don’t eat your granola bars on the couch.
This post originally appeared on Declare Dominion.
Katherine North has five kids, she’s a queer feminist, and she just might be the only life coach in the world who doesn’t believe in the Law of Attraction. She writes things for women with big, gorgeous, COMPLICATED lives.
Her goal is to help kindred spirits become epic fucking badasses… but still retains her right to cry at every diaper commercial ever made.