Worth It (Parents, let’s be real)

22 Aug

(This one is for the parents)


I hear petitions from the upstairs as I attempt to patiently review phonics with my 6 year old. The shouts only get louder. Their source: a 3 year old asking me to wipe his butt.




This is my life. I am a creator, an advisor, a mentor, a restorer, a writer, a lover, and most definitely a fighter.

… aaaand a butt-wiper.


I’m also a really terrible homeschool teacher. Because my house is consumed by the filth and fury of 2 boys who embrace all of their boy-ness, I physically cannot entertain the idea of adding more games or activities to the mess. I really can’t. I feel like I swim in a cesspool of childhood germs, wading and washing, wading and washing. So I say no to the shaving cream writing games for practicing handwriting and spelling. No to the painting projects. It’s not going to happen. There’s no surface clean enough for shaving cream or painting projects anyway. Sadly, my son has to learn in the mess for which he is 48% responsible, with the other 52% belonging to the aforementioned 3 year old, my husband, and myself in the following allocations: 48% toddler, 4% adults.


Anyway, I’m staring down the littered living room and surveying the carnage of boy-child adventures; dirty socks, mutilated and cut up papers strewn about, disgusting and well-worn shorts, backpacks, and a creepy-as-heck Furby with its cold, dead bug-eyes staring back, silently judging me. This is my living room. This is my schoolroom.


This is my life.


Every. Single. Day. This is my life, butt-wiping, pseudo-teaching, and straightening up enough to survive. And I have to fight to remain… well, to just remain. I have to fight myself to stay in it because sometimes I just want to jump in my car and drive to the nearest trailhead and hike until I don’t know where I am anymore. And then I just want to listen to what silence sounds like, to breathe non-boy-child air, and to remember that life as a creator/advisor/mentor/restorer/writer does, in fact, still exist.


I know all the right things to think and say and feel, I do; That the days are long but the years are short; That I’m gonna miss this; That I’m doing the most important thing. I know. But you know what? I also know that I, in fact, am NOT going to miss wiping butts. And that’s OK. I am NOT going to miss the incessant fighting that fills up all the blank spaces, fighting about really, really stupid things. I am not going to miss stains and spots on EVERY. DANG. THING. No. I am not going to miss this.


What I will miss is their presence. I will mourn that the boys whose butts I wipe aren’t going to be here to give me hugs and kisses throughout the day. I will miss the spontaneous songs and the mispronounced words, the lisps and the giggles. I will look at them as high school graduates and think, “You JUST asked me to wipe your butt!” This, and so much more, I WILL miss, more than I can possibly even know right now.


So why even write this scattered bit of thought? I think it’s to remind myself that it’s ok to admit the charm of something has faded. It’s ok to feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied with my current state while being completely satisfied with the whole. It’s ok to not enjoy homeschooling while sensing the amazing accomplishment of teaching my kids lessons and skills and traits that they’ll carry with them their entire lives. I think this is the place many of us as parents get with our kids but don’t know how to articulate. Or maybe we feel guilty, I don’t know.


When I talk about parenthood, I often tell people that it’s seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I have plenty of examples at the ready to back up that statement. And then I tell them that it’s worth it, but my reasons for why are a bit nebulous. I have come to believe it’s because the hard stuff is chock full of reality, of ever-present situations and dirty homes and lost sleep and missed showers, while the “worth it” stuff happens in the deep places. It’s in the heart and soul. It manifests itself physically only on occasion, but the overwhelming sense of goodness, and rightness, and, dare I say holiness, involved in parenting is something that I think cannot be bound by words or descriptors. All I know is that it’s worth it.


This season will be gone before I know it, and I will no doubt enjoy the empty spaces and the silence, the newfound abundance of toilet paper, and the floor that stays crumb-free for more than 2 minutes. I will embrace the other pieces of me that had been shoved to the corners for the time being, and I will be giddy with possibilities and new adventures. But I will miss them terribly. I will miss the richness of the chaos. I will know that those years were short, and I will say, with more confidence than ever, “It’s so worth it.”


… I’ll just be saying it while wearing actual clothes, and probably even makeup.



3 Responses to “Worth It (Parents, let’s be real)”

  1. Michelle Rommedahl 11/05/2014 at 2:03 pm #

    “It’s ok to feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied with my current state while being completely satisfied with the whole.”

    I’ve been a mom for 3 years now and FINALLY got words put to what I’ve been feeling. This post is one of the greatest things I have ever read.

    You and I have sorta met. I was an intern at BigStuf back in the day. I was good friends with Rick. But I was kinda shy, aka socially awkward, so I don’t remember if you and I ever had a conversation. I’m currently living in Sweden with the little family my husband and I are slowly creating.

    Anywho, I love your writing style and look forward to the lullaby album!

    /Michelle Rommedahl

    • candipshelton 11/05/2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Michelle- thank you so much! I’m always encouraged when someone connects with my writing. I hope your little family in Sweden is doing wonderfully! 🙂

  2. Bobbi Jo McM 01/30/2015 at 11:47 am #

    Gah – I find myself just so, into you! Which clearly sounds inappropriate! But you know what I mean…. and what I don’t mean! LOL You have no idea how much I needed to read this! I love my children so, so, so much. But I have “felt” like maybe I don’t love them enough because of how much I don’t find, or maybe don’t want to find my worth or joy in the day to day realities of being a homeschooling stay at home mom. Did I just say that out loud-isn? There are moments that just the my breath away and I’m like, this is SO WORTH IT!! But most of the days are not that way! I have been having some heart to heart moments with that old ridiculously talented Antwane, that sound something like this: “I’m jealous. I’m a waitress, a maid, a cook, a teacher and maybe a bad one, a grocery getter, a referee, a budget supervisor, a maid, a maid, a butt-wiper, a maid, a maid, and a maid. You are a music maker. You speak to the soul of your listeners. You make people laugh, cry, dance, tap their toe, and say “WOW”…. I have to admit, I’m jealous. There is a creator inside me. There is art inside me. But there’s no time for that.” Had a little pity party about how I used to feel attractive. Now I’m lucky just to feel clean! LOL I comfort myself with the days are long but the years are short. (How I love Stanley wisdom! But I’m sure even they have wanted to pull their own hair out!! LOL) And I love Shelton wisdom too! You guys are just honest. I think that’s why people love you guys so much. There’s something about pure honesty that when it radiates from people, it’s hard to put your finger on it, but you sense it. And it’s not that others lie, it’s just that theres a realness about you and it moves me. It helps me. It makes your voice so powerful.

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