Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Venting. Just Real Quick

We left the five smallest monkeys home this last weekend. We left them with our friend's oldest daughter and her husband, who just got married in December. I knew this young couple would be great with my kids. I knew my kids would be safe and happy and fed and clean. I only called once or twice. That's how much I trust them.

I heard through the grapevine (from my big kids, mostly) how rotten the younger kiddos were while we were gone.

I know I have hard kids.

Here's the venting part: I just don't like hearing it from other people.

I envisioned motherhood all wrong: perfect kids, clean house, neighbors in and out. The reality is that kids mess up your house, neighbors only show up when it's messy, and . . . my kids are not perfect.

I have hard kids--most of them; I must issue that qualifier up front. (I refuse to name names or isolate the guilty, so you'll just have to guess who is easy and who is hard.)

I have hard kids--not hard in the disobedient, defiant, "I'm-doing-drugs" kind of way. They are high energy. They are noisy. They are high-spirited. And they push every boundary and every button all the time, just to see if you're really serious about consequences.

I have hard kids, and they are exceptionally smart--gifted, you might say. This may sound boastful, but only after you are required to parent gifted children do you realize what this package includes. And it's not all ACT scores and thank-you notes from loving teachers. You would think a houseful of bright kids would be every mother's dream right? It's hard. Truly gifted kids are rarely the first in their class. Why? Because there is no challenge to schoolwork  The challenge comes from being the first one done. The challenge comes from being the one that answers every question but won't write all those answers down on paper. The challenge comes at home when you find something else that interests you. Gifted kids are often the kids with behavior issues, with okay but not stellar grades, with their noses in a book or eyes out the window.

I have hard kids--kids that fit this rare exception: they (some of them) are better behaved for me than they are for anyone else. They know my rules and what to expect from their misbehavior. They know that I generally follow through with consequences, they know I can be tough, and they know not to push me too often. But, being the smart little buggers they are, they have to find that limit with everyone else they interact with--teachers, friends, babysitters, even people they just meet. Because of this trait, many of my kids have a hard time fitting in with others. People often won't take the time to figure them out or befriend them or see what's underneath the crazy behavior.

I have hard kids--and it's exhausting being their mom. I sometimes wish I had the kid that gets all straight A's (of which mine are all capable but few deliver). The kid that sits quietly and kindly listens without interrupting. The kid that everyone wants to be friends with. The kid that wins student body elections or is the teacher's pet.

I don't have those kids. But I have the kids that are clever. I have the kids that you can have an interesting conversation with, even when they're small. The kids that make jokes about Greek mythology or language rules or microbial development. The kids that read and read and read and read, and because they read and read and read and read, they know stuff--random, weird, interesting stuff. I have the kids that do things with passion--either love it or hate it. I once had a teacher tell me my child would change the world one day--he just had to pick the day.  Still waiting for that day to arrive . . .

I have the kids God chose to send me, because I could be their mother. And easy or hard, I love them. Fiercely love each of them, and their individual personalities and strengths and weaknesses. I love the excitement and commotion and energy and joy and humor and laughter and challenge they bring to life.

I wouldn't trade with anyone. Not even with the mom with the perfect angels all in a row who everyone else loves.

Because they're mine.  Just don't tell me how hard they are.  I already know. I don't care. They're worth it. Every second of it.

Linking my Vent up to V with Jenny Matlock.
Jenny Matlock


  1. I love it! And, I totally agree... if you have a problem with me or mine, tell ME!

  2. this was such an inspiring post. It made me stop and think.

  3. Venting is necessity for parents.

  4. Good vent! I bet you feel better :))

  5. I LOVE this post so, SO much! Every single word of it. You DO have hard kids, and yet they are fabulous and fantastical and adorable and I love them all so much for their ADD and craziness. You ARE an amazing Mom. One i am constantly in awe of for your ability to parent and nurture and teach. I have always admired you, from that very first year I had Tucker in my life. You will definitely have earned every brick in your Mansion in Heaven. But you're so right. They are yours, and you love them regardless, and NOONE really wants to hear bad things about their kids from anyone else. Why should we. We know their flaws, our flaws, etc.
    Aaaand, I'm totally rambling!
    Just know I love you and your FABULOUS family. Can't wait to finally see you tomorrow.

  6. It's never nice to hear that someone has had a hard time with your kids - even if the kids weren't acting out, but just being their high-energy selves. Your kids got the mum they need - it's a match made in heaven!

  7. I had to comment. Because this is SO my life. I rarely ask the same babysitter twice. I rarely attend BIG family gatherings. I wince when we have to go to a church function (including church itself, where I need a one on one with one of mine), I hate going to the store, and on top of that I really dislike it when people tell me what so and so did. I already know. Trust me. And the kicker? I know it is only going to get worse from here. But I get up every morning, and start from square one. It ain't always pretty, but life ain't always pretty :).

    And unlike you, I am a grouch when I don't have sugar... so I indulge :).

  8. Not one mom has a perfect child and don't let them try and tell you they do. I had very "easy" kids. I was very ill and I believe the versse where God tells us He won't give us more than we can handle. Well with my being ill I needed "easy" kids. But they still had moments. Oh yes they did! And if I may add if a mom is telling you, you have "hard" kids then she is having a "moment" and not being an encouragement and should be ashamed.

    Thank you for being a Mom who loves, cares, and is there for her children no matter what.

  9. glad you could vent. . .and who wants to hear it from others anyway. . .after all it isn't like you are keeping it all a secret right???

    Ya gotta love those hard kids. I love that teachers comments. . .and only mothers with certain kids would get it!

    I spend a lot of time reminding myself that God knew these kids needed me. . .its sort of my mantra!

  10. At least you got away, and came home and no one was injured.

  11. great post.

    I especially loved the line "neighbors only show up when it's messy."

    And clever kids will rule the world.

  12. My kids were hard also..and I loved every minute of raising them..

    I sometimes wished they were a little less challenging, but it has all been worth it...

    They'll be amazing adults, just you wait and see...


    been there done that...

  13. I feel like I wrote this post. SERIOUSLY.
    Glad to know there are other moms out there living through it and still finding the joy in it. That's what matters most.

  14. Loved the way they posed (I think it was posing) for you in the last

  15. My sister had "hard" kids, too. And very gifted ones. They just about wore her out, because she had to be tough. And gentle. And firm as the mountains surrounding her.

    Good news is they are now adults. Amazing ones.

    As your youngest five will be.


    (PS. As your oldest two already are.)

  16. Once again, beautiful writing saves the day. You are an amazing momma and an honest writer; both will get you far in life.

  17. Hearing it from others is-the-worst! I always remind myself that I am really the only one that gets to see how good they really are. Others only see little bits and most of the time those bits are not the flattering ones. It looks to me like you are a great Mom!

  18. bravo,
    you have the courage to have so many kids, you also have the nerve to stay away for days...


    they can do without you, they are survivors, great potential in them too..

    smile big, tell them you are proud of them.


  19. Did you ask them how the kids were? And they said fine? Or was nothing said?

  20. That had to hurt your heart, I'm so sorry Jenny! I felt so mad and sad and hurt for you all at once when I read this. Your kids are so much fun, too bad "those" people don't make a worthwhile investment & figure that out too. Their loss---and I really liked Tucker's comment!

  21. great post, as well as the comment it has engendered. Those of us who have children can certainly relate.
    Everybody is still alive, some educational stuff happened for all involved, and you had a good get-away. So be it!

  22. I so know where you are coming from! One of mine, in particular (my smartest, tallest, strongest, best looking, most artistic) gave us fits. Well, not us, personally -- babysitters and teachers mostly.

    I was so taken aback to find out, when I had left him with a neighbor (he was three) to go to an appointment, that he was difficult for her -- he actually ran away from her and hid in a nearby field! And he was always so well-behaved at home. And similar things happened with other sitters over the next couple of years.

    And then reports from teachers started coming in... If he had behaved badly at home, I would have understood it better, but I guess you are right. God gave me the kids who needed me for a mother! (and we all survived, and he is a happy well-adjusted young adult today)

  23. You have perfect children and I wouldn't change a thing!!

  24. I feel your pain. All three of mine are gregarious, loud and assertive. They've been able to hold confident conversations with adults since they were young. I've had people tell me they were obnoxious. And they were. But here's the thing: My kids, with maturity, learned how to tone it down, to be tactful and sensitive. (Sort of.) Do you know how much harder it is to teach a shy timid child that he must speak up and be assertive? I'll take the obnoxious ones - they'll get what they want in life, and won't be afraid to dream big.
    2nd thing: I like your kids. Although I've only met two of them, if the rest are like those two, I'd thoroughly enjoy them. Your kids are all going to be amazing as grownups. I'm sure of it.

  25. I feel your pain. All three of mine are gregarious, loud and assertive. They've been able to hold confident conversations with adults since they were young. I've had people tell me they were obnoxious. And they were. But here's the thing: My kids, with maturity, learned how to tone it down, to be tactful and sensitive. (Sort of.) Do you know how much harder it is to teach a shy timid child that he must speak up and be assertive? I'll take the obnoxious ones - they'll get what they want in life, and won't be afraid to dream big.
    2nd thing: I like your kids. Although I've only met two of them, if the rest are like those two, I'd thoroughly enjoy them. Your kids are all going to be amazing as grownups. I'm sure of it.

  26. Oh I loved this. Not a vent at all. Just a pure mother's love. Your kids sound amazing.

  27. love it :) and them :) and I promise they weren't "hard" for me last summer, or at least not more than i'm used to handling. ;) still love'em all.

    p.s. Any suggestions of what to do while i'm in Chicago for the next few days? I'm planning the art museum for tomorrow morning.

  28. I'm expecting my first. I'm tyring to prepare myself for the challenges ahead, but it's hard to even imagine. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  29. I guess I should count it as a blessing that I only have one of those type of kids then?

  30. Anyone who tells you that her kids are perfect is lying through her teeth!! You have the cutest family!!!

  31. Wonderful! You certainly do have your hands full with those bright challenging wonderful kids!


  32. I love this post. You wrote so clearly how I can remember feeling as a young mother. Overwhelmed with only three...I can't imagine how you do it.

    The really cool thing about you, though, is that everytime I read about your parenting skills it feels like you are so your limitations, in time restrictions, in lesson teaching, in finding time in the whirl of life for what is really important.

    I'm glad you could vent.

    But I for one would like to do tell you that I think you are wonderful!

    And I'm glad you could get away for a little bit.

    Thanks for linking this vividly descriptive post to Alphabe-Thursday's letter "V".

    I really, really wish I could give you a hug!

    Instead I'll have to settle for an A+!

  33. Most of my eight are bright, gifted, loud and yes hard. Thanks for reminding me how much I love them!

  34. Love em while you have em...
    As hard as they are:)

  35. I love this, every. single. word! I absolutely adore that you praise God, reminding us all, that God chose each of our children specifically for us. He knew the path we would take with each of them, during the fun and the hard times. He knew this, and he entrusted us as their moms.

    Love ya Jen!

  36. i have hard kids and my sister in law has easy kids. three easy kids. AND she seems to think that it is because she is the perfect mother and i am not. i am not making this up. she is arrogant enough that she has actually told me this to my face. she think i need to be more strict, more firm, more like her. it wasn't pretty. i grew up with parents like that so i'm different. she was in town this last weekend, and at my house. after three years i'm still not used to her eye rolls, sighs, and judgments over how i let my kids play in the mud, mess my whole house, get wet outside, and just be themselves. HEAVEN FORBID!!! LOL. anyway, i feel ya. and sometimes i wish i had the sit perfectly kids, but when i look at my sister in law's kids that do that i wonder what they'll turn out like. if they'll ever really get to know themselves and just be kids, instead of being scared their mom is going to yell at them for snagging their tights or buffing their new shoes. that child rearing is just not for me! keep it up jen, you're doing great!

  37. And they are all adorable and precious. :)