You’ve heard all the horror stories. The long nights, the bodily fluids, the loss of personal time and the complete post-apocalyptic 180 your life is about to take. You think babies would be bigger, considering how much of a disaster they leave in their hellish wakes. And all before they can even walk.
One thing people don’t really prepare you for when deciding to reproduce is… other parents. I would rather pull an all nighter with a screaming infant and then work a twelve hour shift than spend an hour in a room full of other parents that I haven’t carefully, personally selected. Can I get an amen? Or just a high-five, that works too.
1. “No, seriously, if you do these five exact things, in this specific order, I swear to god your kid will be perfect and never cry/whine/complain ever.”
These people mean well, at least most of the time (maybe?). Their drooling, gap-toothed angel slept through the night a week after coming home from the hospital and they just know it’s because of these few key things that must therefore apply to everyone. They’re practically experts, guys. Never mind that not all kids are the same or that maybe you’ve done all those things and maybe even cried on the nursery floor in a baby-shit stained bathrobe at 2am just for good measure. You’re doing it wrong, obviously.
CRY TRY HARDER.
2. “Your kid isn’t potty trained yet? You’re obviously a terrible human and CPS should take your children from you this very second.”
Dude, come on. Some kids do and learn things at different rates and stages, I’m pretty sure this isn’t new information. Is it? Because if it is, I’d like to contribute this fact to science and have it taught in every school in every country for the rest of forever. Research provided by: Me.
My daughter was pretty damn easy to potty train, I mean she totally did it ass backwards (pun absolutely intended), like a spider-monkey holding onto the back of the toilet with her feet planted on the seat, but it was close enough. My co-worker’s kid, on the other hand, not so much. And she tried a hell of a lot harder than I ever did. I’m not sure when children taking a shit in the toilet became an Olympic event but I am pretty sure they don’t actually hand out medals so maybe we can all just chill out a little. It doesn’t actually guarantee your kiddo a spot at Harvard.
Wait, does it? I’ve never actually filled out an application to Harvard, much to everyone’s surprise, I’m sure.
3. “Oh… you hired a babysitter so you could have a girl’s/boy’s night? How quaint. My daughter and I spent Friday night volunteering at the homeless shelter and curing cancer. Must be nice to have a ‘vacation’ from parenthood.”
Let’s all collectively agree that sometimes being a parent kind of blows. Just like a relationship you generally love, or your dream job can also sometimes blow. Or suck, depending on your preference dear reader. Wink wink, nudge nudge? Maybe? No?
So yeah, maybe I need a break; maybe I take some time to do things for myself on the somewhat regular, especially now that my kid is older and doesn’t actually want to hang out with me all the time. That’s actually pretty damn healthy and isn’t something I (we? Come on, level with me here) should be ashamed of. I mean I think it’s great that you take your kids everywhere and devote every single second to them, but I actually do have interests and hobbies that exist outside mine from time to time. I would also love if we could get together and not have to talk only about our children 24/7. To each their own? But seriously, how do you do it. Give me your secrets!
4. “You let your daughter eat potato chips? Oh, I would never let my sweet little snow-flake Billy eat something like that, it’s basically poison. That’s why there are so many obese children in America.”
Just… gimme a minute here, I need to take a few breaths and count to ten and remind myself that cursing in a room full of small children isn’t appropriate. Can I just start by saying, if not screaming, that you actually don’t know anything about my daughter’s health? Dude, she brought a salad for lunch for Christ’s sake, with freaking organic Greek Yogurt dressing, and a bag of fucking carrots and cherries (I fail at not cursing). Potato chips don’t make people fat and don’t kill them; people eating an insane amount of potato chips and other terrible things makes people fat and can contribute to killing them. I have a plan bro. I have a system. We – my family and I — eat healthy and we learn to moderate the constant presence of ‘junk food’ by learning this fun thing called self control. My hope being that, when my daughter is in college and all on her own, she’s not suddenly like, HOLY SHIT DORITOS ARE THE BEST THING EVER I’M GOING TO EAT ALL OF THE CHIPS EVER, WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS?!
All of which is actually none of your business, so you can hold off on the ‘do you have a moment to talk about our lord and savior, All Organic Always?’ I have the internet, I’m good.
5. “I can always find time to do my hair and makeup; some moms are just soooooo lazy.” (And whatever the male equivalent to this is. Neck beards maybe?)
I’m not going to claim that I’m never lazy, partially because it would be a lie, partially because my fiancé might read this and call bullshit, and partially because being lazy sometimes is the best. However, I will say that with a full time job, a growing kid, an upcoming marriage and all my general aspirations… sometimes the way I look is the last thing I care about. And yes, after pulling a long shift, making dinner, sorting laundry, helping with homework, and then attempting to get some writing in, I would often rather sleep in another hour in the morning than get up to curl my hair. I know, I know, the nerve.
Also, I think I’d like to be buried in my yoga pants. They are my full-time mom, reluctant-government worker bee fighting suit/armor and I wear them proudly, stains and all. The official uniform of over-worked moms everywhere?
Dads, what do you got going on? Sweat pants and kid-goop stained t-shirts?
6. “My son plays baseball, takes karate, is learning Chinese and finds time to visit the elderly. Oh… your kid takes a dance class once a week… That sounds nice and relaxing.”
We all want our kids to succeed, I think. I’m pretty sure. I’ve never actually heard another parent say ‘man, I really hope my kid ends up at home forever in my basement playing World of Warcraft until he’s 45.’
Granted, some of us are better at it than others, and some kids probably need more guidance than others so it varies, understandably, from offspring to offspring. But my kid, for instance, is doing really well in school. I realize that’s braggy, and of course I’m proud – like, front-row snapping pictures in the middle of the school play proud. But it makes me feel weird when teachers and others congratulate me for her ‘success.’ I mean maybe they think I sit at home at night and drill her with flash cards for hours and forbid her video games and T.V., but I’m afraid that’s not the case. She’s just a smart kid, and I try to be encouraging. If she has an interest, I’m there to help her run with it. If she’s struggling with something, I go ‘hey, lets me and you figure this out.’ Her success is her success, I’m just there to make sure she has the opportunity to pursue and enjoy it. Basically I’m her cheerleader, pom-poms and all. So yeah, if she wants to take a dance class, awesome, let’s do it. She hated softball? Alright kid, that’s cool, I mean I was sort of trying to re-live my childhood through you, but I’ll get over it. Life is too short to spend a ton of your free time doing stuff you hate, even when you’re nine years old. Our completely perfect education system does that well enough already! (Sarcasm obvious? No?)
Again, I’m not out to win the ‘how much shit can I make my kid learn and do before they hit highschool,’ award, I’m just out to ensure she’s healthy, happy, and balanced. Though it is pretty sweet your kid can speak Chinese. Can he translate the Chinese curse words in Firefly for me?
7. “I never lose my temper with my children. Ever.’
Sorry, it just slipped out.
If this was true, and I’m not saying for a moment that I think it is, I’m just not sure that this is healthy. Do you check your blood pressure regularly? Do you drink a lot of wine in the morning? Are you even human?!
I’ve snapped at my daughter and regretted it, and I absolutely try and do my best to not take a bad day out on her. I sometimes fail, but let’s get real here, we’re all human. Me, you, the teachers, and our snot nosed little prodigies that all probably pick their noses and eat their buggers when we’re not looking. I mess up, and I apologize. Call me crazy, but I think there are some real life lessons in that. Sometimes I say things I don’t mean, or get angry when I shouldn’t, but you can be damn sure I let my daughter know I was wrong. Now, this could be just her natural sweetness, but I’ve found my daughter to be amazing at apologizing. Sure she can throw a fit and cry sometimes if you look at her cross-eyed, but I’ve noticed that when she realizes she’s hurt someone’s feelings, she can’t apologize fast enough. I’m gonna go ahead and pretend that’s because of my excellent example. Maybe?
Anyway, the last thing any stressed out parent needs is some other equally stressed out, but obviously lying, parent to make them feel worse about it.