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

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