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Is motherhood a dream or nightmare?

For nearly all my life I can remember wanting to be a mother. I loved being around children, especially little ones.

I volunteered to help teach religious school and was happy to mentor fellow students when I was in school.

I also remember how there was one home in the neighborhood that seemed to be everyone’s hang out. We worked on homework, watched TV, ate fruit from the trees in the yard, made snacks in the kitchen, etc.

The mom was super cool and being there was like being at home. In fact, we often called her mom instead of Mrs. B…

And that’s how I wanted to be when I became a mother. I wanted to have the kind of home where my children’s friends could drop in, stay for a while and feel at home.

I’m sure part of my vision of motherhood was greatly influenced by television sitcoms where everything was perfect and there always seemed to be one neighborhood child that seemed like part of the family but really wasn’t. He/she was always present, even went on vacation with them and was treated just like one of the brood.

But that’s not quite my reality.

Sure, when the girls were younger we made sure that their friends were always welcome at our house. We had a pool in the yard so they could always come over and swim, and made sure there were snacks and juice boxes in the nearby fridge.

It seemed like I had become the mother I wanted to be. Sorta.

However, now that my daughters are teenagers, so are their friends. And though I am loathe to admit it, I don’t want them to be that comfortable in my home.

Of course, they are always welcome to visit and even to stay for lunch or dinner. Overnights, well, maybe once in a while. Multiple night overnights? No. Never again.

I came to this conclusion Sunday morning after the third night of little-to-no sleep while my daughters’ friends were staying with us.

To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Fish and visitors stink in three days.”

At first, everything was fine, but as the days passed and the kids felt more comfortable in their surroundings I grew increasingly uncomfortable.

I began to resent them flopping on the couch, with one girl sprawled across the entire three cushions. Between the teens and their stuff, there was no place to sit and I was “banished” to the bedroom.

The longer the friends stayed, the sillier they got. Soon, they all tried to cram into one tiny bathroom. Pushing and shoving followed and spilled out into the hallway rattling the art on the walls — and my patience.

And even though my husband and I love to cook and entertain, turning our kitchen into a short order cafe is not what we envisioned. Everyone had special requests and trying to find one meal that would please them all was impossible.

Then there were the all-night giggle fests. On the last night of the girls’ visit, I sent them to bed around midnight — following the request of one of the visitor’s parents, who were tired of seeing their daughter up all night and sleeping all day.

I did my best to get them to quiet down, but was unsuccessful. I was up every half-hour checking on them and reminding them they, too, needed to sleep.

When they finally gave up and went to sleep, it was close to the time to get up.

In the end, I’m not sure what was worse: the reality of having visitors or the death of a longtime dream.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my daughters to death and their friends are still welcome in our home. But maybe, just maybe, somewhere between reality and fantasy there is a compromise we can all live with happily ever after.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.


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