Growing up as an only child in a single-parent family, I often felt lonely, and I fantasized about what my future family would look like. I dreamed of a houseful of obedient, perfectly well-behaved children—all girls in matching dresses and bows. My fantasy house was always cozy, calm, and clean. My family and I would sit together for a hot breakfast every morning. My husband and I would talk adoringly over coffee about the day ahead while the children quietly enjoyed their delicious pancakes and fresh-squeezed orange juice. I pictured us on family vacations, driving down the road in our shiny new SUV filled with smiling passengers, all of us singing along to the radio or deep in meaningful conversation, with a precious pup nuzzled between my husband and me.
Fast forward to the present day, and I have the full house, but almost nothing else looks like the fantasy I pictured. I have one girl and two boys (all neurodivergent), a 17-year-old (not-so-shiny) SUV, and two goofy dogs who love to “play fight” all day. Our tiny maltipoo pup enjoys making vicious, growling noises as they play, so our house often sounds like a doggy fight club. I would not describe our home as calm or quiet, and it’s rarely clean.
Our mornings, like our family, are a little loud and chaotic. One kid wakes up bouncing and whooping his way through the house. Another wakes before dawn every single off day but must be coaxed out of bed on school days. And the third would gladly sleep until noon, and takes an eternity to get ready for school. So, I employ checklists and mom hacks to try to simplify our mornings. Try as I may, our mornings still don’t look close to my fantasy of the peaceful, home-cooked breakfast we enjoy all together at the beautifully set dining table. Instead, most mornings consist of grabbing a pop-tart or granola bar on the way out the door and rushing to school to make it just in time. I provide lots of direction and redirection, breaking apart Star Wars battles and reminding the boys to get their shoes on right now! If everyone makes it on time and in mostly good spirits (i.e., no one is yelling or crying), I consider it a win!
My life and family may not look much like the fantasy I pictured all those years ago. There are moments, particularly on hard days, when I look around and think this is not what I envisioned. But I love my wild, loud, chaotic family because they’re mine; they amaze me every single day. I want to embrace this life and this family I’ve been given. I love learning more about dog breeds than I ever thought possible from my oldest, hearing my middle’s “fun facts” he loves to share with us each day, and watching my youngest hop and bop through each day with boundless energy. I love their sweet snuggles and how, at least for now, they think I’m the greatest person on the planet. They love me not just in spite of my weirdness but because of it, and the feeling is entirely mutual. My favorite stories to read are the ones with quirky characters and unexpected plot twists, and it turns out that’s my favorite kind of story to live as well—this wild, loud, unexpected life with my wonderfully weird people.