You know when you were a kid and you looked at your mom and at your friends’ moms as, well, Moms with a capital M? As in, this was their profession, they trained long and hard for this job, they were paid handsomely and they knew exactly what they were doing.
And then you grew up and became a parent and suddenly realized that you’d had it all wrong – parents were just kids really (even if they were in their 30’s or 40’s) that were humming along in life, doing their own thing when suddenly some dude dressed in black ran up to them, placed a screaming bundle of poo and tears in their arms and ran away like a thief at a jewelry store, and their remaining days consisted of figuring out what to do next.
There is no preparation
Let’s face it, whether you read a bunch of parenting books, or were a nanny in your 20’s, or had a big slew of baby brothers and sisters, there is still no true preparation for becoming a parent besides actually becoming a full time parent. It’s its own carnival. And I’m talking the kind of carnival with 6-toed bearded ladies and creepy funhouse mirrors. Nobody’s prepared for that kind of wierdness. So you slog your way through and do your best and that is when the true definition of parent is born in your mind.
The obligatory pre-child oath
Everyone, pre-kid makes the declaration “I’m not going to let having kids change my life. I’ll just bring my kid with me everywhere I go! We’ll get together with our friends just as much as we do now! It won’t be a problem.”
Baaaaahahaha. Oh Wendy, you silly fool (these were pretty much my exact words).
My husband and I solemnly swore that parenthood wouldn’t change our lifestyle. But this, friends, is folly – even if you have some sort of nanny/grandparents situation that makes this semi-possible (Disclaimer: I have no such situation). The truth is, when you look into your baby’s perfect, trusting eyes, you will never wish life could remain the same because that would be absurd. But of course, you don’t know this until your name becomes Mom or Dad. Then you’ll know.
Now, some people do still try to keep on living the same lives they had pre-kid. They try to keep their personal ambitions at the top of the list and willfully insist on the same pre-kid lifestyle. Truthfully though, I’ve found that those parents are usually pretty miserable people because the resistance involved in this kind of effort can literally kill you, one guilt-bullet at a time. And because, in those moments when they do have to surrender to being a parent, they’re huge masses of resentment and anger.
On the other hand, some parents surrender to the fact that their lives, their motivations and the very essence of themselves have been inexorably altered. They embrace the change, largely because not embracing it is sheer futility. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will never wash their hair again, disconnect their phones and throw their personal identities out to the dogs (or specifically, the dog that they once coddled like a baby and is now shivering alone in the cold). It just means that they know what’s what, and they are okay with something else getting higher rank in their lives than themselves.
The more parental parent
The funny thing is, even though I know that every parent out there is totally and completely winging it, sometimes I come across parents with such an easy sense of deliberate parental authority that I start to think that they are more of an experienced, true parent that I am. Then I do the math and realize that their kids are roughly the same age as mine and… Wait a minute! That means that they haven’t been a parent ANY longer than I have! This may sound strange, but I force myself into this realization often.
I’m not saying that we have nothing to learn from other parents, we definitely do – I steal tricks and tips from other parents constantly and I certainly defer to parents who have been at the job longer than myself (especially if their kids aren’t jerks). But at the end of the day, there is no one who has all the right answers. There are some really great parents out there and some really crappy parents out there.
Why I share
Sometimes, I like to write about what I, personally have learned in this parenting journey. I feel a little weird about this because I don’t want to paint myself as any kind of assumed expert. I am pretty sure that if I ever did, one or both kids would become a psychopath just to prove me wrong. (Is this not a serious fear for all the “Parenting experts” out there?)
It is simply my goal to share my experiences – triumphs, epiphanies, catastrophes… because that’s exactly what I want other people to do with me. I try to surround myself with the best parents and the best kids I can find so that I can suck their brains dry of everything they know. So far, I’m doing pretty well – I know some freaking amazing parents.
But don’t be fooled, we are all writing our own job descriptions as we go along. Parenthood is what you make it and we are all novices in this journey and that’s what binds us so beautifully.