October 13, 2008

Fire and Rescue, Heavy on the Rescue

Usually I end posts with questions. Today I'm starting with one. Is there ever a point at which parenting becomes any less physically or mentally exhausting? I'm hoping your answer is something like why, yes, there is and it always happens on October 13, 2008 at which point parenting becomes a magically refreshing activity and your kids begin to follow your every instruction and behave like perfect angels and even, as an extra-added bonus, sleep through the night. But I'm guessing that's not actually the answer. This weekend was awesome but it wasn't without drama or exhaustion.

A visit to the local fire station for their open house kicked things off on Saturday. Mia got to sit in the truck, blow the horn, play on the rescue boat and put out a fire with a real firehose. Oh, and there was a moonbounce. Hard to say which was the coolest. One thing we learned for sure was that the fire department's response to a real fire - thus emptying the station of fire trucks, equipment and firemen - pretty much sucks the life out of a fire station's open house. So we headed to the pet store where Mia ogled cute and not so cute things. Her response to almost everything - even the big scaly lizard - is awww, he's so cute.

On Saturday afternoon, we recruited my parents to come over, babysit the kids and Beth and I abandoned ship and went on a date. We went to a new Italian place and celebrated our anniversary. If you're curious, Beth had the butternut squash and walnut ravioli while I ordered the porcini mushroom pasta. We finished off the meal with chocolate mousse. Then we rolled ourselves home, relieved my parents of the kids, sent them home, got the kids to bed and passed out on the couch.

Sunday yielded yard work - what I hope to be the last of the yard work for the year - and an afternoon with both sides of the family. It was craziness. In a good way. But also a stressful way.

Parenting is awesome. Truly, one-hundred percent awesome. But it's the most tiring job I can ever imagine. Luckily, while the office is open today, I'm working from home. I'll be in a fetal position under my desk in the basement if you need me. In the mean time, regale me with stories of your weekends. And answer that first question I asked up there if you're so inclined.

Posted by Chris at October 13, 2008 7:32 AM

What a great picture of the Cactus-Fish Family!
Now, about when it become less crazy being a parent? Ah, um, it doesn't. It's just different kinds of craziness, but it will cause you to miss sleep all the same.

Posted by: Maribeth at October 13, 2008 7:47 AM

I find myself in between the two phases of parenting. The "what do I do now?" phase and the "nodding wisely and doling out advice" phase. And that's about when it gets easier. When you start noticing new parents going through the same things you have and recognize beyond argument that you did do a good job, despite what some experts might have said. But the sleep thing? God help me I don't know that one yet . . .

Our weekend, Bear made the all-region orchestra and Saturday was the concert. It was mind blowing actually. He's jr. high and they were great, but when it got to the high school kids, it was like grown up professionals, just amazing. I was never so skilled at 18, probably because I discovered beer around that year.

Late congrats on the anniversary, too!

Posted by: OS at October 13, 2008 7:55 AM

Does parenting get less tiring? I don't know - my kids are 6 and 3, so I'm still pretty much neck-deep in exhaustion inducing kid behavior. And I know that my 21 year old sister wears the hell out of my mother (and she's not even under the same roof).

Ugh. My weekend was pretty much like my week - hanging with my grandpa at the hospital - he's been in since Tuesday and was in ICU for most of it. He's in fantastic spirits, but healthwise it was not looking good for a bit. They moved him off ICU yesterday though, so that was probably the highlight of my weekend. I spent a lot of time with my family (seeing some I normally wouldn't have seen until Christmas), and baking and bringing food for the visitors so they wouldn't have to eat the crap that the hospital cafe tries to pass off as food.

I have had better weekends for sure, but I'm confident he's getting better so it's okay.

Posted by: Sarah at October 13, 2008 8:02 AM

It never ends Chris, NEVER. I have one who is 25 and he still causes me grief at times.

As for my weekend, I spent most of it sulking due to some bad news I received during the week!

Posted by: Jeff A at October 13, 2008 8:03 AM

Hmmm, I've found that once they get their license and (may)have their own vehicle, it gets less physically exhausting but much more mentally exhausting. Since my son left for college I worry about him less being there than when he's home. But when he comes home, the tics set in again!
Weekend weather was AWESOME here in CT. It was a lazy, do what I want two days (well, 3 because schools are closed but I still have to go to my office job).

Posted by: NancyJak at October 13, 2008 8:19 AM

My oldest is 22, still hasn't ended for us. We spent this weekend chauffering our 12 year old boy and his friends around to all the different "haunted houses". Talk about exhausting. The pre-teen drama is insane. When did 12 year old girls start looking like Playboy models? Those girls looking so adult at age 12 were scarier than anything in those haunted houses!

Posted by: Lisa at October 13, 2008 8:28 AM

Glad your anniversary date went well! And yes, I believe that parenting becomes easier as your child reaches adulthood. I found the high school years fun and exciting as we approached new and different experiences. Thankfully I had sowed the seeds of right and wrong years earlier. Watching your child full attain independence is so rewarding. My son will be 23 in less than a month, and has graduated from college, gotten a good job that he's enjoying, and is in love. Sure there are bumps along the way (head on collision that scares the crap outta you; death of grandparents; inability to find the job he initially wanted, etc) but it's still easier than the constant job of parenting infants and toddlers and middle schoolers. I believe you reap what you sow though.

Posted by: coolchick at October 13, 2008 8:30 AM

im sure our parents or physically and mentally exhausted by us anymore....

Posted by: Darren at October 13, 2008 8:46 AM

Does parenting get easier? GOD I HOPE SO! But I fear that those more experienced than me will say no, it only gets hard in different ways. Sigh.

I spent the whole weekend cooking. Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. We ate turkey yesterday. While I was cooking my husband tried to convince our neighbours that Canada is not actually governed by Great Britain and that the people who came to settle in America also came to settle in Canada and that it is ok if we celebrate Thanksgiving too. Awesome.

Posted by: Shannon at October 13, 2008 8:47 AM

I don't think it does, I fear for when Jake turns 18 and goes off on his own and I lose what little control I will have on him when he is 17. Oh- and then imagine him with his own kids, what if he drops one of them or screws them up worse than I screw him up? I'm going to be a mess.

But at least I won't have to chase after him or dig things out of his throat or wipe his butt by then. I hope.

Posted by: lora at October 13, 2008 8:58 AM

Oh dude, I don't have kids so I don't know if parenting ever gets less tiring. I'm sure if you were to ask my mother she'd say, "Hell, no."

I love how cooperative your kids are for posed portraits, though.

Posted by: Fraulein N at October 13, 2008 9:04 AM

With nearly 12 years parenting experience, 18years combined, it never gets less exhausting.

I am off today and was still up at 5:30 to get things rolling, kids are in school and my husbando has to work!

Weekend recap - Fri night HS football game, Sat baseball, jeans shopping, burgers on the grill with the folks. Sun - Air show, Sams club, play date, afternoon/evening on the couch watching football.

As you can tell I saved all my domestic duties for today, after I run up to my Gma's to install a new microwave. :-)

Posted by: steff at October 13, 2008 9:09 AM

You are such a gorgeous (exhausted) family! If you find the date parenting becomes less tiring, please let me know ASAP.

Posted by: Shelly at October 13, 2008 9:29 AM

Yard work was the tale of the weekend here as well. I'm sore and worn out from it.

My youngest is about to turn 3. It really does get easier, and the date for you is probably when your youngest is about 3. It's tiring in a different way, and I don't feel exhausted from parenting as much as I'm just a good amount of tired when my head hits the pillow.

(results may vary based methods of handling kid sleep issues)

Posted by: Brad at October 13, 2008 9:31 AM

It doesn't get easier, it just gets different.

Well, wait, let me clarify. My 15 year old son has become so independent, I scarcely know he's alive some days. In fact, yesterday, I dropped him off somewhere and 3 hours later, my husband asked me if he was still sleeping. The downside to that is, he tells me almost nothing so I worry constantly. So there's that.

My daughter is a Freshman in college, so parenting her is no longer a physical activity. It is however, the most mentally challenging and mind-draining thing I have ever failed at. It's a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't kinda thing. If you offer a suggestion, you're meddling. If you don't, you're not being helpful.

Basically I'm a wrung out washrag most days. So you have that to look forward to.

Posted by: Candy at October 13, 2008 9:33 AM

Having a kid knocks all the energy out of you. In fact, I get tired just watching my daughter run around. Why do they have all that energy and we don't? We need it more than they do.

Working from home rocks.

I once attended a conf call while soaking in a bubble bath.

Posted by: jessica at October 13, 2008 9:41 AM

parenting never gets less challenging or exhausting. the only that changes are the challenges we face with our kids. like today may be 'i'm not drinking from that sippy cup, i want the other one!'...but in a few years it will probably be something like 'i'm not driving in your piece of shit car, why cant you have a cool car like so and so's dad'. all equally exhausting on so many different levels.

Posted by: madmom at October 13, 2008 10:19 AM

Still say you're one of the best-looking families on the web.

And YES, there does come a day when parenting is not so physically & mentally exhausting. I only have one child, so mine did come kind of all at once. It happens around the pre-teen age, when they decide that they prefer their friends' company to yours.

It's a bittersweet victory for mom & dad. As I've said before: The hardest part about parenting is the letting go.

Posted by: kalisa at October 13, 2008 10:19 AM

As I understand it, parenting comes to resemble your italicized world only after you're dead. And doesn't that make the prospect of death less daunting? Yes. You're welcome.

That's a wonderful picture. All those stories you and Beth relate about sleepless nights and boob biting....lies. They look too adorable and innocent to EVER give ANYONE a hard time.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at October 13, 2008 10:21 AM

I think the soul sucking exhaustion gets better with age. Sure, I'm soul suckingly exhausted right now, but that's because of the youngest. The older one still causes stress and tiredness and such, but it's the kind of stress that doesn't require you to jump up from a sound sleep to rescue a screeching spawn, for the most part.

I don't know exactly when it gets better, I think it happens a little bit each day until one day you realize that you don't dread morning (or nighttime, depending on your particular kids' issues) anymore. For me, that happened when I was about 6 months pregnant with #3 :)

Posted by: Becky at October 13, 2008 10:39 AM

Seriously dude, I hate to break it to you but once your kiddos get in school life is sooooo much more hectic. Gone are the easygoing days of preschool. My life is so over right now and I will have to join the droves of a holes that all vacation during school breaks. I was just expressing this to my friend yesterday. Sorry! People warned me but I never believed them!

Posted by: mymilabean at October 13, 2008 11:11 AM

the fire hose photo rocks.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at October 13, 2008 11:43 AM

Wow! Reading all these comments is making think I should just ignore my biological clock altogether, save my money, and enjoy sleeping for 8 hours a night.

I know, I know, kids are great and parenting also has Amazing Highs and all that but...damn.

Posted by: Caitlin at October 13, 2008 11:43 AM

When you sign on to parenthood, it's a lifetime job. As the kids go out on their own - at some undetermined age, the work gets less, but the concern for their welfare stays about the same.

Your pictures are great.
Happy Anniversary! It sounds like you went out on a very nice date.

Posted by: cassie-b at October 13, 2008 12:26 PM

My twins are four, and I can say that it has gotten physically easier in the last year, by a lot. Right now I feel like we are in that happy place after the physical exhaustion of toddlers and before the mental/emotional exhaustion of adolescents. There is light at the end of the tunnel - hang in there.

But boy, those Sunday nights are hard.

Posted by: Gayle Weiswasser at October 13, 2008 12:45 PM

To quote Mia, "Oooooh, so cute!" I love the family picture. :)

My weekend was spent recovering from the week. I'm not sure I reached my goal, though.

Posted by: Hannah at October 13, 2008 1:19 PM

Oh, sheesh, I can't answer that first one. I'm in the middle of major kid drama myself. And it's not so much the can I answer all the impossible things they expect of me type but the am I doing what best by my kid by doing what I think is best for me type. It sucks.

Looks like you all had a fabulous weekend. Great pics!

Our weekend...Saturday sure felt like I did a lot but we really didn't...a trip to the park with the Grandparents, a trip to get ice cream afterward...Sunday was tree planting and laundry day capped off by a 2 year old on a sleeping strike. I'm exhausted.

Posted by: Jen at October 13, 2008 1:22 PM

It does. When they get to be about 12 or so. I remember distinctly that she no longer needed me for the 101 tiny little things but it became more about long conversations about the important stuff. Or just listening to her talk about her day and how so and so was mean or that teacher was unfair, and I started to get a sense of who she was going to be. And then, when she started college, it's crazy, but there was suddenly this realization that my weekends were truly my own again. It took a while to truly understand that and get over the sadness of not being "needed" anymore.

Posted by: patricia at October 13, 2008 1:35 PM

Chris, I was hoping your readers would comment "Yes, it gets easier, like when they're 4!" or "Mine are 8 & 9 and life is SO relaxing" :) It is a tad exhausting isn't. And our kids are good sleepers. Can't imagine missing a good night's sleep.

We had a wonderful weekend. We celebrated our anniversary and attended a wedding.

Posted by: Nadine at October 13, 2008 1:56 PM

I hope that at some point parenting does...

As far as this weekend I was sick...woohoo...it was like a 2 day vacation from everything but watching football. movies and reruns.

Posted by: harrylips at October 13, 2008 2:24 PM

Is there ever a point at which parenting becomes any less physically or mentally exhausting?

Physically exhausting yes.
Mentally exhausting...a big resounding NO!!!

Posted by: Kristy at October 13, 2008 6:02 PM

We had an awesome weather weekend here in northeast Ohio... so, it was off to a fall festival on Saturday and dinner out for my birthday. Sunday involved the family coming over to help me celebrate. And now, I need a nap. But, it was great fun! (Not as much fun as, say, the fire dept. having to leave their open house for a fire run...)

Posted by: ironic1 at October 13, 2008 6:58 PM

What a gorgeous family! As for that question when you get an answer please let me know. I ask that same question every single day!
Canadian Thanksgiving here this weekend; which meant trips to the farm, picking pumpkins, endless plates of turkeys with both sides of family and finding out my brother in law and wife are expecting their 3rd child which led to the inevitable question to us of when we will be having our 2nd. Weather was amazing though ;-)

Posted by: Gabriella at October 13, 2008 9:01 PM

Chris, I promise you, it gets less exhausting physically when they are not so little and needy. Not today most likely, but in another few um years. Sorry. I'll tell you though, it's just mostly different. Now it's hurt feelings and people are mean and teacher drama, which is still mentally exhausting. But the baby and sleep stuff gets easier, unless you have more.

Posted by: Issa at October 13, 2008 9:04 PM

I thought I would delurk for a moment - the fire station open house that we went to (this past Saturday) was a place that my husband and I enjoyed seeing other families having the same parenting exhaustion that we were. We just added a new baby to our family and now have 3 under 3 and I don't think this is an occasion where I can say its getting easier. I teach high school and see that at least by that age they can wipe their noses and not wear diapers, but a whole new set of joys AND challenges come with that.

Posted by: nora at October 13, 2008 9:07 PM

I thought I would delurk for a moment - the fire station open house that we went to (this past Saturday) was a place that my husband and I enjoyed seeing other families having the same parenting exhaustion that we were. We just added a new baby to our family and now have 3 under 3 and I don't think this is an occasion where I can say its getting easier. I teach high school and see that at least by that age they can wipe their noses and not wear diapers, but a whole new set of joys AND challenges come with that.

Posted by: nora at October 13, 2008 9:07 PM

Well, mine are 18, 15, and 3. No it does not get easier, it does change but it really never gets easier :(
Oh, and for some reason I can't comment on Beth's blog....it always tells me I have submitted to many? I don't understand if I can't leave even one comment, I would have told Beth this but I can't leave a comment, LOL!
Great pic also!

Posted by: Kami at October 13, 2008 10:17 PM

Don't have a clue as to an answer for your question, but can reassure you that you have an absolutely beautiful family and that had got to help make it a little better.

Posted by: Dianna at October 13, 2008 11:31 PM

Hey there, stumbled on your site in the last couple of weeks, and really enjoy it.

I am the father of three boys, 5 years, 3 years, and 6 months, and I wonder the same as you, will it get any easier. Some days you wonder if anything ever will go as planned, will everyone cooperate, will there not be a struggle. I am sure that it does, but those days are few and far between.

I will say this though, all it takes is an "I Love You" and a hug from them to make it all worth it.

Weekend? Thanksgiving up here in Ontario, so busy cooking a bird with all the fixings, and enjoying the amazing weather we had, probably for the last time this year.

Happy Anniversary!, my anniversary is coming up this week, but without any family near by, we are going to have a late dinner with Chinese food brought in after the boys are all asleep.


Posted by: Jonathan at October 14, 2008 12:03 PM

I have to say that, today as my son turns 17, I have not found a time when it gets appreciably easier. It is always different.
I found the first personal-maintenance years horrible. It is not my forte. I found the child years great, the pre/early-teen years horrid. The teen years havnt been too bad.
The older they get the less personal maintenance and the more time you spend trying to teach them all the things they need to know in adult life plus correcting all the bad habits you overlooked for years.
For instance, I love my son's ability to think for himself and speak to his conclusions but retail managers find such qualities annoying.
The work never ends.
You would also think that having your child die would make parenting easier. Once again, the maintenance part is easier but believe it or not, the parenting part is still not over. You will have to trust me on this.

Posted by: That Girl at October 14, 2008 1:53 PM

Question? What question? I'm sorry; I'm just a bit blinded by the most gorgeous damn family I've EVER seen.

Posted by: Mr Lady at October 14, 2008 3:26 PM

Chocolate mousse for dessert? I thought you were a vegetarian?

I'll be here all week!

Posted by: Brad at October 14, 2008 7:38 PM

What a great post and beautiful photo.
Parenting, is a never ending, most of the time tiring blessing.

Posted by: Jenn at October 14, 2008 7:52 PM

Aww...cute pic!

I'd say that parenting may become physically less exhausting as they get older, but mentally more exhausting.

You may be getting more sleep and they are able to fix their own breakfast, give themselves showers and tidy up their room, but you are then stuck with the bigger, more worrisome things. Things like when they have their first girlfriend, or some of the kids at school are getting drunk and doing pot, or they're asking you the big moral questions.

So ya, in some ways it's easier. In other ways I wish the most complicated thing I had to worry about was bath time.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at October 18, 2008 1:48 PM