When you’re pregnant or soon-to-be a first time parent, other people with children will tell you what a blessing children are and how much you’ll love and adore your precious babies. A few might chime in with jokes about not sleeping for the next 18 years of your life but people are generally encouraging when they hear the good news. So let me be a debbie downer on this one by saying parenthood is not all lollipops and sunshine. It’s a wake-up call that your life will never be the same again. A loud, wailing, 3 am wake-up call!
Now don’t steer me wrong, I am the proud mother of 2 adorable kids that I love more than anything in the world. But I’ve changed in many ways as a mother (and I’m talking in more ways than just settling for mom-jeans here) I went from pedicured toes and living carefree with my long hair just blowing in the wind to stained T-shirts and a tangled bun held up by two sharpies. Now my idea of relaxation is a hot bubble bath using my son’s lavender-scented baby wash.
Once you have kids, you are no longer defined as a woman, rather as a mom. In fact, just the other day I went to pick up my son’s first year pictures we had done at JCP and the sales clerk blatantly reminded me of this fact. I had left the kids with my mom for the day so I could go shopping but never thought of bringing along a purse in addition to the diaper bag. So I just left the essentials with her and took the diaper bag with me thinking ‘who would notice?’ the sales clerk at the counter as I swung the bag in front of me to dig for my wallet, that’s who. Our conversation went like this precisely “Diaper bag for a purse, huh? Yeah, you can get away with that once you’re a mom”. See also my post on diaper bags, on this note.
The truth is once you bring kids into your life you’ll find yourself settling for things you never thought you would. I can remember working as a cashier in high school and seeing parents with their wild kids running up and down the aisles, crying for something they want and thinking ‘I’m never going to be that parent. I’ll have control over my kids and wouldn’t be seen with them leaving the house in a mismatched outfit like that.’ Well guess what!? When you’re trying to get out the door and your toddler is pitching a fit because she wants to wear her pink crocs with the purple dress she has on you end up going with it as long as she has something on her feet.
And as much as I HATE to admit it, I have turned into my mother. Eeek! Yes, I can hear my mother’s words resonating with me as I tell my daughter she cannot get up from the table until the food on her plate is all gone. I guess it’s not so bad; after all I turned out Ok (depending on your definition of sane).
Life as a parent is like an on-going roller coaster from the moment your child arrives as your lying in the hospital bed in the worst pain you could never have imagined thinking ‘why on earth did I do this to myself!’ to holding your sweet new baby who instantly melts your heart and nothing else matters. Or when your precious little angel looks so sweet and peaceful when they’re asleep then wakes you up at 1, 3, and 5 in the morning crying! Oh you’ll have moments of doubt, trust me! I find myself thinking at times ‘if my first child had been this colicky I would only have one kid today.’
When I woke up for the umpteenth time with our son in the middle of the night screaming to be fed, I would just keep saying to myself it won’t be like this for long, babies grow up so fast and before I know it I’ll forget about this and only remember those good moments. A year later, I’m still waking up at 4 in the morning with him, not because he’s hungry but simply because he’s ready to get up but in about 10 years I’ll have to take a blow horn to get him up and out of bed to get ready for school.
You will come to realize that parenthood is a far cry from the laughing joyous moms holding their sweet little baby up in the air giggling as pictured in those parenting magazines you’ve collected. That’s not to say that I don’t ever have those moments, but the magazine moms are nearly always portrayed as these happy women with perfect hair and sweet innocent babies that are all giggles and fun. Let me map out what a typical day looks like for me (take today for instance):
5 a.m. – the baby wakes up crying and in my sleepy stupor I leave the lights out and ever-so quietly sneak past his crib to grab a diaper and wipes so I can change him because I know if he sees me he’ll start screaming even louder – doesn’t work and he ends up waking his sister. So now I’m good and up, I change him then feed him and put him in his playpen. Five minutes later he’s out.
8 a.m. - I don’t hear a peep coming from the bedroom so assuming the baby is still asleep I peek my head in to check on him only to find him sitting up in his crib quietly playing. Really!? Why aren’t you this content with yourself when you woke up earlier?
11 a.m. - after refusing 3 different things I’ve offered to prepare for lunch because I know she won’t eat what I’m having I go ahead and prepare something for my daughter to eat anyway. She doesn’t eat it and ends up wanting just a piece of bread with a slice of cheese on it – not even toasted. Yes, just bread with a slice of cheese on it. I go with it because I’ll make up for it with her snack and supper. On the other hand, my son happily eats his avocado and turkey dinner I’ve prepared. Score 1 for mom!
1 pm - after finally getting my daughter to eat and the baby fed, I get her off to a nap then eat lunch while amusing my son in his high chair. I get him out and take him with me as usual into the living room. Surprise! His diaper leaked and now I have poop on the side of my shirt. As a parent you have a new understanding for the saying “**it happens”. Forget the point I gave myself earlier, it got thrown out with the shirt.
3 pm. - It must be some kind of conspiracy because even the cat is out to get me now! I step into the laundry room to put the clothes to wash where I step into spilled water and what appears to be a hair ball. Nice!
To sum it up for you, please enjoy this video that puts parenting into perspective. This has become my personal anthem. I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Some say kids keep you young. I’d like to see what those people look like in the morning after an all-nighter with a teething tot! If this keeps up I’ll have gray hair before I reach 30. They siphon the energy right out of you and use it to run around the house like wild banshees getting into anything that is within their reach. I took babyproofing to a new level with my toddler. Keep things out of reach of children? – well if a 4-foot high flood rolls in I’ll be covered!
So why is it that these little stinky, toothless, sticky, mess-makers who depend on you for their every need and make zombies out of you win our hearts over? Because we are moms. It’s what we do. And I wouldn’t have it any other way (welllll . . . . . . ) Nah, life would be far less interesting without them. Yes they’ll drive you insane at times then have you feeling over the moon with their sweet little drawings and telling you that you’re their best friend, but we love them through it all.