In my  last post, you got a glimpse of how enamored I am with the decision my friend and her family made to raise their three children in a small condo on order to stay within their means. Here is Emily’s honest response to my rose-colored, FB view of her life. ( I think every mom can relate so I am sharing parts — printed with her permission.)

Shelly … I get the point you’re trying to make but when I was reading this I was almost like…”who ARE these people?!” Hahaha. But mostly it’s kinda close to how you describe, I guess.

Half the time, though, I feel like a bad mom. I hate cooking with my kids, don’t like playing with them, would rather sit by myself somewhere and veg out. I don’t read with them very often, I let them play way too many video games and watch too much TV….mostly just so I can catch a break for myself and not have to listen to them whine.

I am embarrassed that we still live in this condo that feels cramped and run down to me….but we don’t have the expendable cash to get out of it because we are “under water” because of the market. I see other people who make less than Jason get new cars and a new house and new furniture and eat out a lot and wonder how they do it. Is it all on credit?

I am embarrassed to have people over to our little place and worried that if we do have people over they will make too much noise and our neighbors (who are tolerant saints) will sheepishly call to ask us to keep it down. I get sick of Ava bouncing off the walls all the time (yes sometimes literally) because she is full of energy, and I am convinced she was given to the wrong mother. I find myself almost hating her at times because she pushes every freakin’ button I have and finds new ones I didn’t even know I had. Everyone says her feisty spirit will get her far in life….hopefully she will still have a sane mother when she’s there.

I hate that I don’t have my mother anymore, that my kids didn’t get to know her before she passed away from cancer… I understand my mom a lot more now that I’m in the thick of things. I remember her being impatient and at her wits end, without a lot of friends, under the pressure to be perfect, both from herself and others. I totally get it now. I just hope I don’t damage my kids too much in the process and that they will have fond memories of their childhood.

I put pics on FB and of course I’m just showing highlights. The good stuff. People might think we are this perfect family always doing fun and interesting things. Sigh. You’re not gonna get the pics of me yelling at Ava after she’s been told 15 times to clean her pit of a room….or of Jack being stubborn and making everyone mad because he refuses to comply….it’s definitely only the good or funny pics that will be on FB, not the hardcore real ones.

Sorry if I vented too much. Just having a rough time lately and have felt rather trapped and invaluable. So reading what you wrote was kinda weird for me….is that how we are seen? Just made me think. And please excuse my grammar or whatever….I have a sleeping baby on my lap and am writing this on my phone.

E & J's family
I love this family.

Just the fact that Emily wrote all of that on her phone makes her even MORE of a hero!

Seriously though … there is nothing easy about parenting is there?  Even when we chose to do the right things (like live within our means and discipline our kids) it always seems like we’re not doing enough. (Oh the pages we could all write about “mommy guilt”.)

A wise friend told me once that the one hope which pulled her out of the clutch of the parent trap was comments made by friends about how respectful, creative, caring, etc … her kids were.  “Are we looking at the same creatues?!” my friend would ask.  But she took comfort in knowing that the battles on the home front were producing “respectful, contributing humans” (her words).

I hope to steer clear from any platitudes for parenting or for Emily and Jason’s challenges.  I do however, wildly cheer their courage to make choices that feel deeply right to me and leave me with a strong hunch that their kids will one day reflect the wisdom of those decisions.  I only wish that more Americans were marching to the same beat.