BEING A PARENT IS HARD WORK!

by Nancy Miller

Hi, everyone. I’m Nancy Miller. I’m a mother of three. When I graduated from highschool in 94, I really had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I grew up in a small New England town and my father supported the family by working on a lobster boat. My mother worked as a clerk at the local grocery store. Even if I had wanted to go to college, it would have been hard, because my parents had a limited income and seven children to care for, myself being right in the middle.

After graduation, my boyfriend at the time (now my husband!) Todd Miller was about to go into the Marine Core and we decided that maybe we should get married before he left. We got married and he left me with a very special little wedding gift - one who I would eventually name Mandy Miller. Two years later, Sarah and Noah Miller came one right after the other, like floats in an Easter parade.

Nowadays, my husband makes a decent living as a custom carpenter. He told me that I could do whatever I wanted to do - he said I could work full time if I like, and we could get a babysitter, or I could take up a hobby, perhaps knitting or bowling, or I could stay home and be a full time mom. After giving it some thought, I decided that I would stay home with the kids and care for them.

I had no idea it was going to be such an ordeal. My day begins at 7 a.m. At least if I was working at a normal job, I wouldn’t be required to come in until 9 am! I have to get the kids up and bathed and dressed for school. Mandy is 9 years old, Sarah is 7 and Noah is 6, so they are all at an age where they like to make things more difficult than they need to be! Then, I bring them over to my mother’s house (she lives across the street) and we all have breakfast together at 7:30 am. Mandy won’t eat eggs because she is afraid of chickens for some reason, and Sarah is allergic to milk. Noah pretends to be allergic to milk (he pronounces it la-lergic!) because he wants to be just like his big sister.

After breakfast, we usually go out into my mother’s back yard - she has a large plot of land and some horses, so we’ll go take a walk or if the horses are up to it, a trot down the nature trail. Mandy likes to canter, which makes me nervous because she is asthmatic. Sarah is afraid of horses and so she usually will just walk. I don’t try to force her to like horses! If she doesn’t like them, I just accept that and say to myself, “Nancy, it’s not your fault. Not all little girls love horses.” Noah pretends that he doesn’t like horses because Sarah doesn’t like them, but he usually gives up the guise after a bit because he really does enjoy them very much.

On the other end of the trail is their school - Great Slow River Elementary School. I know all the children’s teachers very well and am very involved with the school. I feel that it is my responsibility as those children’s mother to make sure I know who is teaching them what! I tie up the horse (if we have one) and take them to their classrooms. The horses don’t mind waiting. They love to eat the green grass!

During the time they are away, I wish it were fun vacation time for me, but it’s not! I usually go back over to my mother’s house and help her clean up from breakfast, then it’s back home to wash laundry, clean their rooms, make important phone calls to doctors and dentists and other parents and arrange field trips or parent teacher luncheons, send faxes sometimes and disinfect the kitchen and bathroom, where germs will cultivate if you let them!

Around 3:45 or 4 pm, they get home from school. They usually walk themselves home and that’s okay with me. I used to be too worried to let them, but I’m getting better about letting them be young adventurous children. I tell them, “Don’t talk to strangers!” and I ask them, “What do you do if you see a stranger?” They yell back at me, “Run!” in unison, and then we all fall around the room laughing. They are all their own individual little pint-sized blessings!

From about 4 to 5, we do homework together. Oh, they bicker, the way all kids do, but they love eachother. Around 5:30 pm, Noah likes to watch cartoons and Mandy usually calls her girlfriends to talk about boys or tell eachother poems they’ve written. (I listen in on her phone calls sometimes! I don’t feel bad about that. As a good mother, I should know who my children are talking to and about what!) Sarah likes to help mommy (me) prepare dinner. She likes to pretend that she is a cook in a restaurant and that daddy is an important person who is coming to eat at our restaurant! She is so creative and I think she probably will be an artist or a lawyer someday. She gets her creative streak from me, I think. (I knit with a knitting circle once a week.)

At 6 pm, Todd comes home. The kids attack him because they are so happy to see him! He goes and showers and gets changed up for dinner, and then we all eat together at the lovely mahogany dinner table that Todd made by hand and gave to me for my birthday last year. Over dinner, we talk about the days events, Todd tells me about work, the kids tell us about what happened at school. Sometimes they yell at eachother, but it’s only because they are fighting for their parent’s attention. They don’t have to do that, but Sarah thinks that I am going to leave for some reason! She always has dreams about that. I have spoken to Todd about whether or not we should get a psychiatrist for Sarah but he says that kids have nightmares sometimes and it’s no big deal.

Around 7 pm, we finish up and Sarah usually helps me with the dishes. Todd likes to have a cigar in the basement and Noah likes to read. Mandy goes into her room and puts on make-up and talks on the phone. She wants to be a model, she says! I think she could be one. She is very skinny and pretty and looks great in hot pants! I tell her how I used to be skinny like her and that one day it will catch up to her. She doesn’t understand that yet, though.

8 pm, and it’s time for bed. The kids usually put themselves to bed. I just say, “Bedtime!” and they go to bed. I feel very lucky that way. Every once in a while Todd has to say, “What did mommy say?” and the kids don’t put up any more hassle. I don’t like to think that they are afraid of their father, but more that they respect his size.

After the kids are in bed, Todd and I talk about the kids. We talk about what we can do to be better parents and we share quality time together. I think that when Todd and I spend time together, it makes us better parents. I feel that all couples should spend the last few hours of the evening together talking about how to be better parents. And don’t ever go to sleep angry, ladies! It doesn’t make for a happy family.

Well, that’s a little bit about what it’s like to be a parent. If you’re thinking about having children, I hope that this has given you some insight about what it’s like to care for three kids. It’s hectic, but it’s worth it, every second of it.

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