Lately, I've had more than one person accuse me of not appreciating my children very much. And I suppose those people are right to a certain extent. I do tend toward being a complainer. If you read just this blog alone and didn't know very much about me, I can see how that might be your impression of my experience.

So let me set the record straight here. The truth is that I am hopelessly in love with my family and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have these tiny hominids entrusted to my care. (I'm not always so sure they're lucky, but hey, that's the luck of the draw). Though it's not really my nature, I work very hard to make sure my children and husband know that they are loved. There's not a day that goes by that I don't tell them I love them. There's not a day that goes by that they don't experience physical affection from me. There's not a day that goes by that they don't hear some kind of praise or reinforcing statement from me about what they do or how they do something.

I'm quite aware that I could do a better job... tell them more often... be more sincere... find more moments. Particularly with The Dormouse, I have not been as good at catching her in the act of doing something good and pointing it out lately and there are days when I ache for not having done a better job of being her mother. Some of that has to do with not enough hours in the day; some of it is due to the fact that she's in school now; some of that is simply a failing of my own. But I am aware of it and trying to do better. I remember all too well what it was like before these little ankle-biters came to stay in my life and the pain I felt when I couldn't bring one of them home with me. While I really think I should have accomplished a lot more with my time before children - you know, traveled more, copyedited the great American novel, took in a few more Broadway plays, worked on a Nobel Prize project - those are all things I gladly give up to spend my days washing poop out of clothing and trying to get one of them to be quiet for just a second so my brain can stop humming. The benefits outweigh the expenses that much.

But here's one of the things I've learned about blogs in the past couple of years and mine is no different: what you read on the screen is not the sum total of a person's life. It's the thirty seconds of material that the author chose to share at that moment and what goes on for the other eighty-six thousand, three hundred and seventy seconds in his or her day is Real Life.

I certainly don't go around resenting my life for the majority of every day. If that were so, I would find a way to change it. I simply do not have the tolerance for putting up with a situation that doesn't work for me most of the time. We all make like decisions about our lives. Motherhood, much like my job, is filled with some really good things and some really bad things. What you generally do in life is weigh your options, decide whether the good things in a particular course of action outweigh the bad things and then follow the path of least resistance. I don't enjoy working every day, don't like some of the things I have to deal with at work, but I do like having a roof over my head, food, a reasonably flexible work schedule and bringing home that paycheck. The things you get from being a parent are so much more that I have to say that for me, yes, the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

One of the reasons I started this blog and one of the things that I had to come to terms with when I became a Parent With A Child To Care For Everyday, was the idea that parenthood would be all candy candy yum yum, rainbow smile, river made of ice cream, and happy waif models dancing through the streets under a giant horse made of flowers. Parenthood, like my job, is work. And like I tell my husband, work is work. If it was always fun, they wouldn't have to pay someone to do it. All too often, the idea is perpetuated in the culture around me that once you bring that child home, you're done with your struggles and the rest of life will be a breeze; and that's just not so. I would much rather come into this parenting adventure knowing that fact and knowing that it's hard for everyone, not just me, than assuming I was doing something wrong because every moment wasn't filled with unicorns and happy endings to Disney movies. The fact that some very wise people on the Internet have been brave enough to speak the unspeakable and write about both the joys and perils of parenthood makes me feel a tiny bit less alone when I'm surrounded by the Outward Appearance of Perfect Mother everywhere I look.

For me, as long as I can keep my sense of humor about something, I can keep my head. Looking back over my life, the worst times were moments when I let go of trying to find The Funny in any given situation. Those were the moments where I was depressed and couldn't recover. Those were the moments when I feared for the future. And so, more for me than anyone else, that's what this blog does. It reminds me to find a different way to look at things... reminds me to keep my head and find the humor in the day-to-day grind... allows me to speak the unspeakable: that sometimes being a parent is a sucky job. This blog isn't mommyblog, or a parenting blog, or a WAH mom blog, or SAH mom blog... or anything really. It's just my experience doing all those things.

I'm sure that my coping methods aren't for everyone. Some people need to be positive and serious and pious and spiritual and that's fine. As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working for ya?" If you can answer in the affirmative, more power to you. That's just not me. There are times when I can be that, but most of the time, I have to be irreverent and flippant just to get through my day without throwing up my hands and yelling "Uncle."

The part of my life that I fail to write about on this weblog most often are the frequent times that I'm so overwhelmed with love for these little beings entrusted to my care that I feel my heart just might break with the effort of it all. The fact that I choose not to write about that is probably due to the fact that any attempt to describe in words the feelings I feel would most assuredly be less than what I feel. Those feelings would somehow seem cheapened by my inability to do them justice.

So... as to the criticism, I'll take it in stride. You're probably right. I do need to express my love for them more and I will make an effort to make that love more obvious. I do need to point out what a blessing they are. If there's one thing that I believe marks the failure of a parent, it's if a child were to grow up and not know he or she was loved. Let's call this my one and only New Year's Resolution... coming just a few months late for the new year.

So this morning, filled full of New Resolve, I picked up my Number Two Child, gave her a hug, told her how much I loved her and just sat with her for awhile... without the interference of television, computers or the phone. And she ever so slightly put her arms around my neck and hugged back and for a second we two just sat there enjoying this poignant moment... right before she put her hand down her throat and caused herself to throw up her scrambled eggs from breakfast all over my shirt.