Justin Ricklefs


Not Sure How You Do It

Our second-oldest daughter turned 13 yesterday.

What in the world.

On Friday night, she had 21 friends over for her birthday party. They made Christmas cookies, went caroling around the neighborhood, had a dance party in our living room, had a little bit of drama and basically looked at SnapChat the rest of the time.

Our son had two buddies over. Our other three kids were in the mix as well. Then a few of the dads hung around with me, had a beer and wondered how in the world we’re in charge of teenagers.

It was a house full.

Maybe the highlight, at least for Brooke, was when one of Addi’s buddies said, after Brooke did the splits and destroyed them in a dance off, “Addi, why is your mom so much cooler than us?”

Brooke has never been so proud.

Whether it’s a birthday party, a Saturday full of basketball games, crowding into a booth at the Mexican joint up the street or just walking into a store with all 5 of our kids, we get some version of this comment almost every week:

“I’m not sure how y’all do it…”

It may look somewhat organized and orchestrated but the secret?

We’re not sure either.

And many times, we’re not doing it well.

But we’re doing it.

We forget to move the elves at night. We forget to have the tooth fairy pay a visit at bedtime. We lose our cool when the arguing and talking back seems to be unceasing.

We fight in front of them when we promised we wouldn’t. We let them play video games and look at screens longer than we intended.

They eat crappy food more than we’d like to admit.

We don’t really know when each of them showered last.

We don’t have near enough money in their college accounts. We don’t have any clue how we’ll pay for 4 weddings.

I scheduled 12 basketball games on one Saturday. After I told Brooke I wouldn’t do something so ridiculous.

They rotate beds seemingly every night because they like sleeping with their siblings. Many weekend nights all 5 end up in the same room.

They suck at doing chores consistently.

They suck at cleaning out our cars.

I suck at holding them accountable to basic stuff because I like to be fun dad more than hard work matters dad.

We tell them we won’t take stuff to school when they forget it. Then we take stuff to school when they forget it.

We yell “Silas, quit throwing the ball in the house” over and over. Then I’ll forget and play catch with him in the house.

We talk bad about them behind their back sometimes because we get frustrated.

There are literally millions more examples, but I think you get the picture.

We’re not doing it well, not all the time at least.

But we’re doing it.

We’re laying in their beds with them when they cry about friend problems. We’re texting them during the day when we know they’re facing hard things.

We’re telling them they’re loved deeply, in spite of the ways we fall short.

We’re reminding them their heart is what matters, not their beauty, brains or athletic ability.

We’re asking them for forgiveness when we screw up.

We’re teaching them to do the same.

So next time you see us, assume we’re not doing it well.

But that we’re doing our best.

And we’re doing it with love. Despite the imperfections.


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