When I decided to have children, I'd say I was pretty realistic about it. I knew it wouldn't solve all my happiness problems. I knew that while most people with kids say their kids make them the happiest, those same people with kids characterize themselves overall as less happy than people without kids. I knew it wouldn't be all peaches and roses. (Or even Peaches and Herb, for that matter.)

In other words, I knew it would be hard.

I just didn't know it would be HARD.

I figured there'd be the occasional, if not constant, fight about stupid stuff... but I figured that would be about things like whether permission would be granted to go to that slumber party, wearing appropriate clothing, etc. What I did not think was that I would spend some mornings having a knock-down, drag-out fight with a thirty-five-year-old-mouth stuck in a four-year-old-body about something as mind-numbing as WIPING AFTER USING THE TOILET - ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

I did not think that such a stupid fight would elicit "I hate you Mom"s so vitriolic that my eyes wanted to melt out of my skull. Nor that I would react so badly to the ridiculousness some days, that even as I was reacting, I knew that what I was doing and saying was simply emotional blackmail and I immediately felt ashamed of my response but yet I Could. Not. Stop.

Breeding MUST be a biological imperative, because otherwise I can't figure out why anyone, having had experience with one and having lived through that nonsense, would willingly sign up for it all over again. And yet, I have done that. Three times. Either that or I am a just a masochist and I enjoy punishment. (Stop me if you're heard this one: The masochist says to the sadist "hurt me" and the sadist says "no.")

I love my children... there is never one minute I regret having them. And yet some days, I remember the ease with which I lived my life before children and I am ashamed that I didn't appreciate it more. I should have done more with my time. I should have gone back to school and gotten that PhD that I wanted. I should have written the Great American Novel. I should have SOMEthing to show for all the free time I frittered away. At very least, I should have complained less about being so busy I did not have time to do those things. Because now? If I have time for a shower in the morning, I feel like I've accomplished so much.