I’ll take 90 percent

My little brother and his wife often say they’re not going to have kids. They are still young, so we can harrass gently encourage them to change their minds. They love our kids, and the kids are equally smitten. But nearly two years into their marriage, they also enjoy doing what they want, when they want, which is understandable. I miss that sometimes too, but the joy I get from my kids far outweighs my desire to head to happy hour after work or go for a run on a whim. On most days anyway.

We spent a week at their house over the holidays. That is a long time for two adults, a 19-month-old and a three-year-old to invade the living space of a childless couple. Fortunately they have a bar in their house (no, I’m not kidding) and my mom lives nearby. And our kids were on their best behavior the entire week. We flew across the country with no meltdowns and had a great Christmas. The only rough patch I recall was one day when Clay didn’t want to nap and in an effort to escape from the guest room, smacked his head so hard on the door jamb that it looked like he had a third eye. Luckily we’d already taken the Christmas photos!

During their New Year’s Eve party I was talking to my sister-in-law and her friend, who was trying to get pregnant. My sister-in-law kindly (drunkenly?) said that we had the best behaved kids she’d ever been around. While I am grateful for the compliment, I replied that they had been great that week, but they’re not always perfect. Who is, really? I’m certainly not.

But despite their good behavior, they still see kids as a lot of work. And they are right. For years, you have to bathe and feed them. Then they learn to do it themselves, but not all that well, so you still have to monitor them to make sure they really wash their hair and don’t live on peanut M & M’s. Not only do you have to buy the cute kids’ clothes (that’s the fun part!), but you have to wash, fold and put them away. Same with food. Don’t even get me started on diapers or potty training!

But you know what? It’s all worth it. One smile, one laugh, one “I love you.” And the memories of the crappy parts of parenting fade away, and you just smile and thank God for the unconditional love that the mess-making, sleep-depriving, financially-draining little munchkins give you every day.

On one of our last days there we were talking about kids again and my belief that 90 percent of parenting is great, 5 percent is tiring and 5 percent is just plain hard. Although in my high school district, 90 percent wasn’t even an A (fortunately at Florida State it was), there aren’t many things in life that you enjoy 90 percent of the time. I’ll take that 90 percent any day.


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