ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

The parenthood juggle is real

Columnist Jessie Veeder writes that life is harder with kids, but that's how it's supposed to be.

Jessie Veeder Coming Home column headshot for Brightspot.jpg
Jessie Veeder, "Coming Home" columnist.
Contributed / Jessie Veeder
We are part of The Trust Project.

WATFORD CITY, N.D. — We have to wake up early to make it to town before 8:20 a.m. when they lock the doors of the elementary school, forcing you and your child to make the walk of shame to the front office and sign in as a tardy kid. We have to wake up early because, after pulling them out from under the covers, it takes my children at least an hour of coaxing and back rubbing and sweet talking turned to hollering “open your eyeballs!” for my dear darling daughters to be convinced that it’s time to start another day.

Before kids, mornings were my slow roll into creativity, the time I would take to myself to sip coffee, reflect and come up with something to ponder for publication. I never missed a deadline.

These days I’m sweating before 7 a.m., and it’s not because I got myself into a morning workout routine. By the time we’re all up, dressed, fed, brushed, clothed, snacked, packed and buckled into the car, I’ve played the part of lawyer, cook, zookeeper, stylist, housekeeper, secretary, barista, chauffeur and, depending on what kind of morning the 4-year-old is having, therapist, all in an hour and a half’s time.

I’m sitting down now, in the calm after the storm, and I desperately want to be profound, but honestly I’m just happy I remembered I had a deadline in the first place. After 10 years of submitting a weekly column, it’s only now begun to surprise me.

IMG_0005.jpg
Columnist Jessie Veeder writes about the "parenthood juggle" in this week's column.
Jessie Veeder / The Forum

The juggle is real, people, and the only thing I’ve mastered in this working parent game is the art of doing my makeup in the visor mirror of my car between preschool drop off and my impending appearance in public. And no, I have not figured out where that weird smell is coming from in the backseat.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking of cars, here’s a thing I’ve actually done and I’m not too proud to confess. Because maybe that’s why I showed up here today, not with anything deep, but to make you feel better about yourself. I have actually driven myself home from work, the kids safe inside with my husband, turned off the ignition and fell plumb asleep at the wheel. I don’t know how long I was there, but no one knew I was there, so no one came looking.

Last weekend my husband and I decided to paint the old shop, a project that has been on my list all year. In the time it took to coach my daughters through the difference between painting-the-shop-clothes, school clothes and cowgirl clothes my husband could have had half of it done already. I made a wager that it would take Rosie, our four-year-old, exactly two seconds before she had herself covered in red paint and wondered if we should see if grandma wanted to babysit for this part. And while I was right about the timing of the red paint, what I didn’t account for was the amount that would end up on the dog.

14FEA83E-B08C-479B-B1B4-426ABF9A8CEC.JPG
Jessie Veeder writes about recently painting an old shop with her daughters. She writes, "I made a wager that it would take Rosie, our four-year-old, exactly two seconds before she had herself covered in red paint and wondered if we should see if grandma wanted to babysit for this part. And while I was right about the timing of the red paint, what I didn’t account for was the amount that would end up on the dog."
Jessie Veeder / The Forum

But the girls were happy to help. They dug in and painted every inch of the shop they could reach before Rosie started presenting all of the reasons she should be allowed to run the spray paint gun and Edie asked to use the 24-foot ladder. My dear sister showed up with the cousins to offer up a jump on their trampoline and they were off, leaving a trail of red paint in their wake and me alone to supervise my husband on that 24 foot-ladder.

So many things are harder with kids around. I am just going to say it plain as can be here. But then I’m going to say: of course they are. They’re supposed to be. I have to remind myself of that every once in a while.

It. Is. Supposed. To. Be. Harder.

If the goal is to raise capable, compassionate people then the lessons have to be taught in the day to day. In the encouragements and the apologies and the patience shown in letting them do things like pouring their own cereal in the morning when the very adult version of you is screaming inside for all the Cocoa Pebbles now scattered across the kitchen floor. And the time it’s going to take for her to go get a broom and sweep it up and on and on because have you ever read, “If you give a moose a muffin?”

IMG_9995.jpg
While admitting it would have been easier to paint an old shop alone, Jessie Veeder writes, "If the goal is to raise capable, compassionate people then the lessons have to be taught in the day to day."
Jessie Veeder / The Forum

Yes, if I want to raise a kid that understands how to make an old building look like new again, I guess it’s up to us to show them that it’s work. And it’s fun. And it’s a mess. But we can do it. And there will be some fighting. And early mornings. And sometimes you will pop right out of bed and get there early and other times you’ll be the tardy kid and no one’s perfect, you just have to try your best and sometimes your best is catching a power nap in the car alone. And that’s just fine too.

Just always use your manners. Please.

ADVERTISEMENT

OK, how’s that for profound on a deadline?


READ MORE OF JESSIE'S COMING HOME COLUMNS

Jessie Veeder module photo

Greetings from the ranch in western North Dakota and thank you so much for reading. If you're interested in more stories and reflections on rural living, its characters, heartbreaks, triumphs, absurdity and what it means to live, love and parent in the middle of nowhere, check out more of my Coming Home columns below. As always, I love to hear from you! Get in touch at jessieveeder@gmail.com.

Columnist Jessie Veeder writes about how sharing hobbies and interests with your kids is a great way to bond.
"Think about it for a minute," writes columnist Jessie Veeder. "When was the last time you stood in line for something, maybe the grocery store aisle or the post office and just stood there? No digging your phone out of your pocket to scroll the latest updates on social media or the news feed custom made for your specific brand of dread and drama?"
Columnist Jessie Veeder reflects on having to take a backseat to her family's pack of dogs. "Why?" she asks. "Because heaven absolutely forbid, we ask the dog to move. Nope. No one say a thing about it."
"Coming Home" columnist Jessie Veeder writes about an abandoned farmstead that used to sit on her family's land near Watford City. She writes, "It's not so uncommon around here for a family to purchase land from neighbors or inherit an old family homestead, so there aren't many farmsteads around these parts that didn't come with an old structure lingering on the property, providing ranch kids with plenty of bedtime ghost story material."

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTAFAMILY
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com.
What To Read Next
This week, gardening columnist Don Kinzler fields questions on hibiscus plants, beating apple trees and how long grass seeds will last.
If it plays well in Winnipeg, it’ll be a hit in Fargo, and all points within planting distance.
This week Sarah Nasello modifies a summer favorite into a warm and comforting winter meal.
Casey is the well-behaved dog that normally stays out of the limelight.