I’ve been blogging since before I had children, but it wasn’t until I was pregnant with Oscar in 2008 that I really got consistent about it. I’ve written about parenting more than any other topic even though I love writing about many things like faith, food and of course Walt Disney World. So it has felt odd that in the past year or so, writing about parenting has taken a back seat to other things on this blog.
This has been mostly intentional. Jerry and I decided a long time ago that we would scale back on the details about the boys as they get older so that is part of it. Coincidentally, I feel less and less confident about my parenting skills as they grow. It’s that I just don’t know what to say. I’m getting older too, but those nuggets of wisdom? Yeah, I think I accidentally threw them out with the Chick-fil-A bag.
This morning when I woke up in the dark, as I often do, I realized something. Parenting is exactly like being a child. When I started thinking of all the parallels I actually had to stop myself. I honestly don’t know how the human race survives. We literally have no idea what we are doing.
Are you a parent or a child? Read my list and decide for yourself.
1. You have no short term memory
Kids know nothing, just ask them. Where are your socks? “I don’t know.” Why did you shove your brother? “I don’t know.” They have no idea what you are talking about when you try to describe a place you have visited together, but the second they see it they can tell you everything about the last time you were there.
Yes, it happens to parents too. They try to convince you it’s “preggo brain” as if your sanity has a chance of returning after the baby is born. Of course, once the baby comes, moms are spaced out more than ever so preggo brain becomes “mom brain” and while it’s necessary to function and keep the kids alive (still no idea how this works) that brain is at capacity with no room for growth. Over time, this becomes serious.
Today Oscar said, “I was about to say something awesome, but I forgot.”
This basically sums up my entire existence.
2. Life is not fair
There is no rhyme or reason to why things happen the way they do. Kids don’t understand why they can’t have everything and parents are often faced with the reality that they have to deal with anything from the unpleasant to the unthinkable.
As adults, most of us realize the logic of fairness. It’s not a reality. Sometimes things just happen and we have to deal with them. Sometimes it’s very true that life is not fair. That doesn’t mean the instinctual foot-stomping urge ever fully goes away. Sometimes even grown ups want to know why. Just WHY isn’t life fair?
3. Your feelings are bigger than your body
I read this post by Jen Hatmaker about big feelings and as I was nodding yes to almost every point, I realized this is just the way my children have to face the world. They live every day with too-big feelings trapped inside of too-small bodies and don’t know what to do with them.
I know what you’re thinking. Now that I’ve had this epiphany I will majestically transform into a patient and understanding mother when the kids act crazy or suddenly loosen my grip when they push back at me.
No way. Those passionate boys came straight from a passionate mama and I am barely keeping a lid on it over here. I sob at every commercial about college (my boys are 6 and 3) and my chest tightens when I say the words first grade. My arms were made for hugging, not letting go.
I promise I won’t be the super crazy/clingy mom forever. I’ll let them grow and go eventually. But let’s get one thing straight for right now. To this day, I still sneak into their rooms after they fall asleep for a quick kiss on the cheek and I will continue to do this as long as they are under my roof.
4. You just want to do what you want
I don’t think anyone grows out of this. Life is one hard lesson after another learning to put others first, from siblings to friends to work to spouses to children and eventually, maybe even grandchildren.
Sometimes that is rewarding and wonderful. Other times you just want to eat your Oreos and binge-watch your dang cartoons in peace.
5. You long for the easy way out
Being a kid is hard. Cleaning your room takes way too long, you don’t want to lose any games ever, and you want your food to appear in front of you before you even realize you’re hungry. Wait. Did I say that being a kid is hard? Because I think I just described myself.
Oscar has latched onto the “jinx” game where the person who fails to say JINX fast enough can’t speak until the jinxer says their name. Except Oscar has decided that anytime anyone ever says his name (ever) it goes right into the bank as an “un-jinx”. This way, whenever someone tries to jinx Oscar, he says oh I’ll just use one of my 15 unjinxes so I can still talk.
6. Growth Spurts
I really thought this one was just for the kids. But somehow I keep growing out of my clothes (see numbers 2 and 4).
7. Anxiety and worry
I’ve watched both of my children go through phases of anxiety from windy weather to new childcare situations to fireworks to the freakishly fast carousel at our local park (which is completely understandable because y’all that thing is super fast).
Fears come and go, but they are often replaced by new fears. Fear for ourselves or for our loved ones, fear of the unknown, fear of failing or worse, failing our children. The world is big and scary and nothing makes sense. Leaning on my faith and learning to let these fears go is something that I constantly have to work on, just like my kids.
8. You sweat the small stuff but sometimes you get to appreciate it
Kids are amazing at slowing down. Popping bubbles, splashing in the water, running barefoot on the sand; these are the dreams of childhood. Now that I’m a mom, seeing joy on my sons’ faces is the new dream for me. I am in awe of these little humans and I love the way they draw me into my dreams simply by being themselves and loving what they love.
It’s so easy to rush through to the next thing or to cry over spilled milk. I always pictured the child as the one crying in this story, but maybe it’s not the child at all. Maybe the mom is crying because she has been wound so tight that she just can’t even with the milk. And then maybe the child catches her eye and says, “can you be happy mama?” And suddenly she’s crying for an entirely different reason.
The small stuff becomes smaller while the big stuff fills the smallest moments.
9. You think you can do things you can’t actually do
The struggle is real with my 3-year old right now. It’s a daily battle for him to try and do every.single.thing. all by himself. For some tasks, sure fine knock yourself out. But a 3-year old has limits. As his mother, I know these things. Ironically, I refuse to accept my own limits.
I take on way too much and somehow continue to be surprised when I either can’t do it all or can’t do it well. Guess what genius? No one can do it all by themselves.
I am already bracing myself for when Calvin will be in preschool 5 mornings a week instead of 3. I know that I will absolutely be tempted to think this is “extra” time that will need filling so I am saying it right here, right now in public that it does NOT. My days are already spoken for. They will be filled with the things I am already doing that I don’t have time for now.
NO NEW THINGS THIS FALL.
10. Sometimes you need help
Kids need to know when to go to bed or they will push themselves until they are miserable (see #9), they need to be told when to brush their teeth until they understand why it’s necessary and choose to do it for themselves. They want to dream and do great things, but sometimes they need a little push.
Parenting is exactly the same. We look to family, books, blog posts and other moms and dads to form our “parenting philosophy.” We want our children to know they are loved and that we would do anything for them while trying not to spoil them (too much). We want to be our best but we don’t always know where to start. This is why it takes a village. This is why we love inspirational cat posters.
Oscar loves to draw but often asks me what he should create. I pulled out Doc’s Big Book of Boo-Boos, which is a drawing book that does exactly this. Each page has a drawing with a prompt for the child to add something of his/her own. He flew through the pages adding his own touches to each page.
That’s ultimately what each and every one of us does as parents. We take it all in with eagerness and curiosity while knowing nothing. Over time, we begin to add our own touches.
I’ve really felt off my game for a while now because I am in this completely unknown territory where nothing matters and everything matters and nothing makes sense and then all of a sudden there is a moment of reason where everything comes together for a split second and I know it will be okay.
So I guess I’ll accept being the grown-up. But if you ever see me having a bad day, ice cream still helps.
Two spoons, please.