“Having a child is liking getting a tattoo…on your face. You better be committed.” – Eat Pray Love
“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” – Erma Bombeck
“Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.” — Ed Asner
I was asked recently, “what is it like being a parent?”
Well, it is NEVER a dull moment.
I gave my usual answer, “it is the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
As the day went on, I just couldn’t get that question out of my head. Is that my go-to answer? Or is it something I truly believe with all my heart? I decided to try to answer her question in more detail, hence, this post. 🙂
What is it like being a parent?
I always knew that I wanted to be a mommy. I think I always had this notion in my head of what being a parent would be. When I got pregnant, it was so easy to be seduced by the pregnancy websites and adorable baby registries that filled my head with ideas of everything that I “needed” to be prepared for this baby. HA! I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for the baby. Most of the time, nothing goes to plan. Everything changes once the baby is born. My way of thinking has completely morphed into something completely different. I no longer think for just myself. I also see the danger in almost everything! It is so stressful. Crazy, scary “what ifs” played out time and time again in my early months as a new mom. And let me just state, right now, for the record “mom brain” is a very, very real thing!!
Like marriage, I think we idealize parenting in our minds. Don’t get me wrong, parenting is a beautiful thing, but I think we need to be realistic. If you aren’t realistic in your goals, you will start to feel like a failure. It is inevitable. For example, with my first child, clean laundry very rarely made it past our couch for the first few months. I would look at it and think I was failing as a mother, wife, housekeeper, etc…but the reality was I was busy taking care of my baby boy and his needs. You have to change your views of success when you are a parent, especially a new one. Some days I thought I was a total success if I got to take a shower without waking up my son!! SCORE!! 🙂
Let’s play a little game that I like to call Expectation Vs. Reality.
Being a Role Model-Expectation: I will embody kindness, patience, unconditional love, wisdom, and I will never raise my voice.
Being a Role Model-Reality: I’m not perfect. I have days were my patience is unwavering and other days where I yell. Some days I feel like I have all the answers and other days I have no idea what I am doing. I just pray for my kids to see me as a flawed human, that tries to learn from my mistakes, but I do love them, unconditionally.
My “Sweet Baby” Expectation: My sweet babies will always be my sweet babies. My little boys will never throw tantrums in the middle of the cereal aisle or swat me in the face when I tell them no.
My “Sweet Baby” Reality: Yeah. I am not perfect and either is my kids. The fact of the matter is, kids, throw tantrums. Tantrums are sometimes the only way they know how to communicate. Now I just nod in solidarity to a mom dealing with a tantrum. Sort of a “you got this,” nod. “Peace be with you, my friend.” In all seriousness, adults have bad days too. We have days where we snap at our friends or family because we are in a bad mood. So why should we expect our children to act any different? They have bad days too.
I will Be the Same Person Expectation: I will not change. I might be more tired, but I will still find time to read, do my hair, my make up, and I will still feel like me!
I will Be the Same Person Reality: Yeah! Right! My body is not the same. My mind is not the same. The entire way I think about things, my whole thought process is completely different. I don’t read as much as I use to and I choose a little extra sleep over makeup and fixing my hair most mornings.
Social Media Expectation: I can do it all! Wife, mother, woman!! Cute, perfect family pictures! All smiles! Everyone looking at the camera!
Social Media Reality: Hehehehe! Thank the Lord for the crop editing tool! I am not above bribing the boys with candy and/or ice cream to get a smile. It sometimes takes 50 tries to get one good picture. I’ll let you in on another little secret. My shirt might look clean and put together, but I have sweatpants or yoga pants on!! Crop! Crop! Crop! 🙂 🙂
What My Kids Eat Expectation: Fruits and veggies!! Always home-cooked meals!
What My Kids Eat Reality: I do my best to cook as many meals as I can at home. My boys love fruits. I have to be creative to get veggies in there. However, they do not drink sodas, lots of juice, and I limit their candy intake. I won’t lie some days, I am ok with whatever I can get them to put in their mouths!
My Feelings About Being A Mom Expectation: I will be full of joy, happiness, and love for my kids at all times, no exceptions. I might as well be telling you that animals come into my house and help me clean, just like Snow White and Cinderella. Bahahahahaha!!
My Feelings About Being A Mom Reality: Some days are really hard. Some days I cry. Some days I want to scream. I am full of doubt, fear, stress, anxiety, loneliness, moments of guilt because I find myself wishing I could be selfish again, and thinking “oh, man! I must be messing these kids up!” But, and this is a big BUT, in between those days are days full of love, giggles, lots of hugs and kisses, moments of pure bliss, cuddles, and kissing away boo-boos.
The truth is I rarely get to pee alone. They will find you. Seriously fingers clawing under the bathroom door. I feel like I went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson some nights after I put them to bed. They will stare at you in the middle of the night until you open your eyes, say a bad word, and then have to remind them not to say the word you just said. You will have amazing Friday and Saturday nights of laundry and mopping up bath water (oh yeah). Their dirty, sticky hands will always find the new shirt that you have only worn once. You will step on blocks and toy cars in the middle of the night and swear they are going in the trash the next day. You will have nights where you sit by their beds and rub their backs and little tummies. You will have night after night of “just one more story, mommy.” Lots of accidents. Lots of messes. You will eventually wake yourself up at night singing the Paw Patrol theme song or most recently for me “Baby Shark….” Your new things won’t look like new things for long. You will find a sippy cup with milk in it under the couch. Word of advice. Don’t open it!! Just throw it away. Trust me.
However, even after I write all this, I think my response can still be boiled down to what I told my friend. Being a parent really is the best thing that has ever happened to me because even in all the chaos, the messes, the dirty smells, the pee, you have moments where they look at you with such love and your heart skips a beat. Moments where they reach for your hand and look to you for guidance. The first time they say “mama” or tell you they love you. Times where they draw you a picture or make you a flower out of play-doh. The times where they come up to you and say “you the best mama,” for no reason at all. Early Saturday morning cartoons. Late night cuddles to scare the monsters away. Playing in the sprinkler and moments where they make you feel like a kid again. Those moments definitely overshadow the messy ones. My boys are my greatest accomplishments.