Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Few More Things No One Told Me About Parenting

Before you become a parent, people just love to offer you unsolicited advice. They want to help prepare you for what’s to come. They want to share their wisdom.  A lot of what they said to me was pretty valuable and important stuff, but I just wasn’t ready to hear it.  Mostly, I was like “Yeah, I totally appreciate that. Thank you for sharing.” Inwardly, I was thinking: "I already read a whole entire book about that. That a doctor wrote. So thanks for nothing." And then I would stifle a yawn and go about the business of being clueless. 

But here's the thing: I should have listened.  And I should have asked questions.  But I would've asked the wrong ones.  And then there's the BIG issue.  The fact that there’s a lot about becoming a parent that people don’t tell you.  Here’s five things no one told me and I sort of wish they had.

That smug feeling? Enjoy it while you can, hotshot.
Every time you start to think you have things figured out, savor the flavor. Because it usually lasts about five seconds. Baby sleeping through the night? Congratulating yourself and possibly bragging that you don’t understand why it's so hard for other people? That maybe they just need to try a schedule? Well here come some new teeth, Gwyneth. Plan the perfect family vacation? The stomach flu is really fun in a hotel. Did your kid test off the charts awesome? That’ll be the same one who can’t stop eating his boogers in public.

The Guilt is terrible but The Shame is worse.
Everyone talks about maternal guilt. Everyone knows moms both inflict it and suffer from it in equal measure. But you know what? When you really have a major parenting fail? The Shame is the worse. The knowledge that your mistake has possibly hurt or saddened or contributed to another future therapy issue for your precious offspring... It feels worse than anything in the history of ever. Don’t believe me? Just wait until the baby rolls off the changing table and is totally fine two minutes later but you’re a shaking, sobbing mess who’s now scarred for life.

They’re born and you think you have all this time to fix all the things about yourself that are effed up.
There is no greater motivating factor for getting your schmidt together than a sweet smelling bundle of baby. And you may be under the illusion that you have until your kids are bigger or mobile or sentient or . . . something to become this whole new person that is grown up and together and really awesome. But let me tell you the truth; you have no time, hooker. All that stuff you hate about yourself? If it’s not fixed by now, it may just stay broken. Whatever your issues are, they get harder to solve – not easier. Maybe though, it can be a good time to start accepting things for what they are. Maybe you’re already really awesome.

You resolve to break the cycle.
No, not that cycle.  You clearly broke it for nine months straight on your way to laboring stirrups.  No, I'm talking about breaking the cycle of seasonal madness, also known as the Cycle Of Chaotic Klusterfarks (I won't add the acronym, but it sucks, well. . . you get it.).  Example: it is not going to be like it was when I was growing up. The holidays will not be a gigantic mess of grouchiness, disorganization and Jerry Springer-style familial fighting. It’s going to be different! And better! And we’re going to make memories and laugh and wear festive holiday sweaters and play board games and It! Will! Be! Amazing! Then you find yourself slamming things and saying "GAHDAMNIT!" and stomping around the kitchen swearing because no one is helping you and all the pies just burned.

I love you, bedtime!
You will love their bedtime like a junkie loves smack.
I never thought I could love anything as much as I love my kids.  As a stay at home mom, I'm with them all the time.  Before I became a mom, I thought those parents who complained about their kids and joked about loving them best when they were sleeping were sort of douchey.  Horrible really.

But now... There are nights – OK, I’ll be honest - pretty much every night, where I am counting the minutes to their bedtime like the closing minutes of a hockey game while praying for the second when they’re finally asleep. You do not want to come between me and my kids' bedtime. I will cut someone if they knock on my front door at 8:30pm.  Because those few, precious moments between their bedtime and mine are the best part of the day.  These are moments where I am off.  Where I can do things like fold laundry or pay Verizon or sit on the couch in a stupor with the TV on. 

Yet did anyone ever tell you that you would come to value twenty minutes alone, sitting slack-jawed on the couch in a quiet room, above rubies?  Me neither.  But since rubies are now choking hazards, maybe I'm better off sitting here zoning out in silence.  Oh the sweet, sweet silen. . . . Oh schmidt, was that the baby?

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

43 comments:

  1. Yeah, not only can you NOT fix all of the crappiness about yourself, you also realize there's a whole lot of other crap that you didn't even notice until your angelic treasures start doing it as well. I love seeing my cute, little people copying my dysfunctions! SOOO adorable!! C:

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  2. I'm only 8 months into this "Mom gig" and I can already relate! My number one goal is to keep his future therapy bills to a minimum.

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  3. Growing up our bedtime was 7:30 every night. Sometimes my mom could pull it off by 7. But then we got old enough to tell time, so over the course of a week, she slowly set all the clocks in the house to say 7:30 at 7:00. She confessed a few years ago and I thought she was horrible. She said, "You judge me all you want, but when you have kids you will understand!"
    Now I realize my mom is a genius!!!

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  4. I love my daughter more than life itself. I also love her bedtime more than life itself. There has never ever been one night of her precious life that I have not THANKED THE UNIVERSE that she has gone to sleep for the night. Not one! Not a single night! She's my blessing and so is her night-night time.

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  5. You two cannot possibly know how happy your blog makes me! Thank you!!

    We had a broken clock one time that i set to 8pm. When my sister in law noticed, she asked why...its my favorite time of day, of course, bedtime! I have also tried setting the clocks in my kids room a bit behind to keep them in their rooms til 7am their time, 7:15 my time, but then my older one (8) realized what was up and started adjusting her wakeup time. But she can make her own breakfast, so its ok! :)

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  6. I need one for "I promised myself I wouldn't be the type of mom who yells" but I guess that lies in the "guilt" and "breaking the cycle" categories.

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  7. Love it Ladies, so true! Bed time doesn't come early enough some nights, and while the kisses and cuddles are great there's nothing quite as loveable as a sleeping child!

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  8. Oh sweet sweet bedtime, if you were a person I'd make you a margarita and rub your feet.

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  9. Hahahaha.......Sally is absolutely right!!!! : }

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  10. Oh even yesser, especially to the last one. Years ago I used to visit my brother and SIL and wonder why they were so quick to get bedtime going in the evenings for my 3 and 1 year-old niece and nephew. I was such a fool! When we vacationed with them recently I caught my brother giving me the biggest "I-told-you-so" look as I wrestled my kids into their PJs and slammed the door shut. Thankfully he didn't say anything snide-- he just handed me a cold beer. Sigh.

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  11. Yes, yes, and even yesser. Fixing yourself...yeah, the hardest part is that those precious little bundles of endless energy seem to help bring to the surface all of that stuff about ourselves we didn't realize we needed to fix until 15 seconds after they were born. And then (between stinky diapers, endlessly refilling sippy cups, and bedtimes) we spend the rest of their growing-up years finding more and more stuff we don't like about ourselves. Who has time to fix them, when we're still discovering them?!?

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  12. Try moving to the Pacific Northwest.... ummmm sun its almost 915 why are you still up..... the kids are still up! uggggggg

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  13. I always say I'm not trying to be supermom, I'm trying to survive and I'm proud to say that I've survived 9 years already!!

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  14. "Before I became a mom, I thought those parents who complained about their kids and joked about loving them best when they were sleeping were sort of douchey."

    I sort of thought so too - now I'm part of the highly vocal majority defending the book "Go the F*ck to Sleep" (which is BRILLIANT LITERATURE, BTW!)

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  15. Bedtime, sweet, sweet, bedtime. Oh how I love you so.

    Julie
    ilikebeerandbabies.blogspot.com

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  16. When I was a kid my mom used to tell us to "video tape it for the therapist..it'll be cheaper.." now that I'm a single mom to two boys I realize she was a furking genius!

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  17. Bedtime is the best time. A glass of cold white wine and "the bachelorette" is all I need.

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  18. We live out in the sticks. I solved that summertime sunshine with aluminum foil on the kids windows. Oh yes, I did. The room darkening blinds and curtains just didn't cut it. You can only see the foil from the back of the house and no one ever sees that. Well, DH does when he mows, but that's it. I wish there was a prettier solution, but for now, it works for us.

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  19. I *knock on wood* have never had one fall off a hanging table, but I did practically nail clip my first sons pinky finger off. Well not really but it was skin and there was blood and I can't do any of my kids now for fear I will harm them... So the husband has to. I should be over it, but I still get panicky when I am on the hook to do it.

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  20. This was great! I have to say, my baby rolled off the changing table, and ended up with a broken wrist. Taking her to the ER was horrible. I felt like everyone was thinking I had hurt my baby. Luckily, she's a tough cookie and the cast didn't slow her down one bit. Still, I carried the guilt for a long time.

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  21. Don't forget nap time, nap time also rocks.
    As for guilt and shame, try this on for size: back in January I fell down the stairs with my 7 month old daughter in my arms breaking her leg. My arse literally broke my baby (and they say babies aren't as breakable as you think, LIARS). Now we have little casts and an xray with cute baby fat rolls and my shame imortalized.
    Don't even get me started on how you get treated when in public with a baby in a cast, that's it bring on even more guilt arsehats!

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  22. Love it!! To the anonymous poster: I defend that book as well!!!

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  23. Perfect,it's all so true and hilarious,esp. when you use the work "hooker" that just cracks me up. Thanks for the many laughs.

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  24. Dear Maude, I LURVE YOU!!!!!! Thank you for the humor and the truth. Xoxo.

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  25. I will live The Shame for the rest of my life. My 9 month old rolled off the changing table (as I turned around to deal with my 4 year old) and broke her leg. There's no more gut-retching, shameful feeling than having to stand in the pediatrician’s office and explain that… first to the nurse, then to the doctor. They BOTH write it down in your chart, while making a clucking noise and peeking up at you from the corner of their eye to make sure that your face is covered in shame. After which that treat, they send you off to radiology where you again have to explain it to the nurse and then the radiologist. Yup, they both write it down as well. And finally you get the dreaded call from your pediatrician with the results – yup it’s broken and you need to get to the pediatric orthopedist before they close in 30 minutes. So off you rush (with your distraught child given that she’s in pain AND it’s now the middle of naptime but all she’s done is sit in waiting rooms all day) where you get to explain your story of to the third nurse and then doctor of the day. You start to wonder how many of the 6 believe that it was an accident and if they will compare all 6 notes to make sure you kept your story straight.

    That’s a bad, shameful day. It is one of the worst days of your life. And that night you cry and pray for her to be okay and not be scarred for life and you thank god that it’s over. Except it’s not. Now you get to live with the 4 weeks in a cast. During this fun time random strangers in grocery stores and amusement parks lines say things to you like “Oh, I’m sure you’re a good mom anyway.” or “ what happened? Does she have club foot?” or my personal favorite… “Wow. I’m sure child protective services was all over that.” Because yeah lady, I don’t feel bad enough, I definitely need for you to point out that my negligence was so gross that the government may need to step in.

    Yup – no one tells you about The Shame.

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  26. I had a boss when I was all that- a single, career women in a navy suit and heels with perfectly coiffed hair - who would complain that his stay at home wife sometimes did not have the laundry and dinner done when he got home. I actually said to him, "that is terrible because...wait for it...as a stay at home mom dinner and laundry was HER JOB. I still cringe when I think about it, in fact I'm sure I'll have shame goosebumps for the rest of the night. I gotta send that gal a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc - the good stuff, like from New Zealand.

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  27. Thank you for this post! I was having a really rotten day today (and lots of guilt) and this made me laugh--almost so hard I nearly woke up the baby! Agh! No! Anything but that! I also ahve that fantastic book "Go the F*ck To Sleep." Love it! I mentally tell my 5mo old to go the eff to sleep several times a day...lol He's a horrible sleeper. I dream of the day he sleeps from 8pm-8am like his 2yr old sister. Hopefully that day WILL come!

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  28. You know what else no one tells you about? Bed Roulette. Are we the only ones who play this game? Everyone starts in their own bed, asleep(ish) and the rotations start shortly thereafter. Miss Chatty totters in, having (apparently) just realized the umbilical cord has been cut and desperately NEEDING Mommy. In bed she climbs. Junior follows shortly after, certain his Hulk blanket is in here. In bed be climbs. Mommy is now awake and pinned like an NCAA wrestler. So she slithers out and heads for Miss Chatty's bed. Miss Chatty soon follows. Junior has an accident in bed, so be and Daddy head to the guest room. Daddy snores, so Junior heads to Miss Chatty's room. Mommy is smushed again, and retreats to Junior's bed, where she gets a few hours of sleep covered by the Hulk, her head resting on a monkey pillow pet.

    Is it just me?

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  29. Ok maybe I spend too much time on FB, but after every comment I found myself looking for the "like" button. Even yesser to all above! Another one they don't tell you: baby care books are not written by people who have, you know, ever met an ACTUAL baby. Or maybe it was just mine that either a) did not read the manual, or b) DID read the manual, and thought it would be a fun starting point to poke holes in Mom's sanity.

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  30. I love this blog. Seriously. I've been working my way through every post EVER like it's some sort of new best-seller book. And to me, it is! Keep posting. Holy everything, you rock.

    And so does bedtime. Until I go to bed and sleep like a shark, one eye open, waiting for her to wake up or light herself on fire or something. But until then, oh yes.

    dispatchingthestorm.blogspot.com

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  31. Anonymous....not not just you, but I'm not playing roulette yet, just squished in my own bed. Little one comes in anywhere from 11pm to 4am and since it's just her and I, there SHOULD be enough room in the bed, so why am I squished almost falling off the bed while she takes over?????
    Kate & Lydia you all should do a night bed/family bed/positions (don't go all gutter minded lol) post.

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  32. Oh the shame.......my toddler set himself on fire with the stove, my daughter fractured her collarbone and it took me TWO WEEKS to realize it, and my other son is the neighborhood pyromanic. Humility, thy name is Motherhood. Which is why I have added to the shame list the fact that I've actually told my kids at bedtime once, maybe three times, that Mommy is off-duty and don't even THINK about getting out of bed or calling me for anything.

    And all of you honest moms commenting here ROCK! I feel such a cyberbond with all of you.

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  33. oh, musical beds! my kids' fave game. 5 people DO NOT fit in a queen size bed. and i have ACTUALLY told them to go the f to sleep, already. yeah, i suck, but this junkie is hooked and NEEDS them to go to sleep when i've been out-numbered 3-1 all day.

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  34. They are all right on of course... though the shame is the worst... Of course as I sit here in upset over the fact that I did not keep up with good dental hygiene like I should have and my daughter may have to get a crown on one of her teeth. :-( My bad mom moment of the day...

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  35. What my beautiful, wonderful mother wrote to me after reading this post: "I promise, later on you will: First, beat yourself up to smitherines; second, decide that you and God know that you really did the best you knew how most of the time; and third, hope that you will be forgiven for the times that you let your zero energy level rule. Oh, and after that, you fix a nice, hot cup of coffee and send up a prayer that your kids will one day have multiple babies like you did, so they will know what a zero energy level feels like and why it is sometimes easier to let it rule." Amen, Mama.

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  36. All so true...especially the bedtime part.

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  37. I'm going to start calling Those Moms "Gwyneth". To their faces.

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  38. Popsicle in the cleavage, is all I'm sayin'...

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  39. To April,
    I'm constantly reminding my 8 and 10 year old to brush their teeth (everyday drama, sending them back to brush again, etc.) and getting sick of it. Totally hoping the dentist would back me up on Tuesday when they went in for their appts. But no, "the teeth look just fine and the kids are doing a good job...". Darn genetics are working against me. I was kind of hoping for a cavity to motivate them to at least "try" a little harder. Don't stress too much.

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  40. I sit here drinking a beer, laughing my a** off, snorting in fact, thinking about how on this very night I drove around my block 10 x while devouring a bag of Skittles just to avoid coming home during the bedtime routine so I could fully enjoy my darling baby's bedtime to its fullest. How you wonder, can she do that? By sitting here, drinking a beer, laughing my a** off. Thank you Kate & Lydia a million times over!

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