Too often I talk about the hardships and frustrations parents face, but parenthood is filled with as many moments of joy and frivolity as anything else; I want a written remembrance of this. I want my kids to know I told the world of the blessing they are. In those frequent moments of self doubt I want something tangible to prove myself wrong. I’m a paradox. Because I’m a paradox, I find it easier to draw parallels. I also really enjoy the letter P.
I am a germaphobe, so toddler diapers are a test of strength and love for my kids. Potty training ain’t no picnic either, but the expression on their faces the first time they correctly use the potty (there’s quite a few missteps in this particular adventure; consider yourself warned) is awesome. “Mommy! I did it! Come wook! I potty!” As hard as it is to imagine, they are more proud of themselves than I am.
Parenthood is exhausting. Getting up in the night or waking before the sun fully rises is hard.
I don’t get hot coffee everyday and I look more like a zombie on The Walking Dead than I do those sitcom soccer moms. While I may never feel rested, when my 2 YO old wakes in the night she wants me to hold her. All she wants is to feel and be close to me. If my 5 YO wakes in the night she wants us. She knows there’s safety where we are; there’s relief in our arms. If you aren’t a parent, I cannot explain to you the immense bliss this is. There’s always a microwave for my coffee. If it’s a really hard night, I can always leave the coffee pot on until it’s sludge. Lumps keep it hot longer, like coal.
Parenthood is lonely. Especially if you’re a stay at home parent. It feels like everything falls to you no matter the time of day or night. Feelings are changeable, though. If I think about it, I’ll notice that even though my husband works 45+ hours a week he still wants to help. He still wants to bond with his family. It may not be in the exact way I want, but maybe it’s because I haven’t told him how. Most of us have partners who want to pour into their families, we just have to let them.
It’s hard to take anger out of parenting especially when there’s disobedience. My kids may not follow the rules 100% of the time but at least they aren’t like I was as a kid. I’d be in fetal position all day every day while they raised their fists high, terrorizing everyone in the house. They’re kids, they’re going to test their limits. In fact, they have to. They have to figure out what’s acceptable. They’ll probably teach you a thing or two in the process.
Can they not just chew and swallow their food? Is it really necessary to suck on it for three hours before doing that? It’s not like they’re 90 year olds with dentures. Again, if you’re not a parent you won’t understand the frustration in this. Dinner has become my least favorite time of day, but when you’re desperate you look for solutions. I found my kids are 52% more likely to eat their food if they help make it. I’m a fat kid at heart (fat adult in real life) and a cookbook author; cooking with my kids will never fail to give me joy. It’s for the good of mankind.
It’s hard for a parent to feel like their own person. All we want is an hour or two to ourselves on any given day. I’d settle for going to the bathroom alone. Have you ever tried to entertain kids of different ages and interests at the same time for nine hours straight? Not easy. I quickly learned, though, it’s more than entertainment my kids want. They love so well and so completely, they want to be with their favorite people.
We wanted to accommodate them while giving ourselves some breathing room, so we started going on”popsicle walks” after dinner. We don’t check our phones, we don’t have our computers, no TV; it’s just us. Honestly, it started because I didn’t want popsicle juice dripped all over my clean living room. That, and I’d been stuck inside with two squabbling kids all day with the A/C cranked; I needed out. Our youngest is delighted with everything she sees and is constantly pointing and shouting, “Lookit! See dat? Oooo!” It’s delightful. Our oldest tries to set new speed records. It’s not hard to outrun a thirty something, overweight, no longer athletic mother of two. It makes her happy, so it makes us happy. She loves to make up stories and songs so when she’s not racing to the neighbor’s lawn sprinklers, she’s entertaining us. It’s perfection. It makes me emotional.
These kids, these spotless beautiful kids, have such a capacity for love and bringing joy. I have the honor of helping them grow and develop who they will be. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What’s your parenting story?