I find it amusing that as soon as a couple gets married there are tons of well wishers wondering when they are going to start a family. I’ll admit it. I’ve been guilty of doing the same thing, many times. It just seems to be a cultural norm. These days I’m found encouraging couples to take time to get to know themselves first and to accomplish a few big goals before starting a family. Just my personal opinion because kids change everything!
Here are 10 things those lovely well wishers don’t tell you about parenting:
- Some days you won’t like your children. You will always love them, but there will be the days where liking them will be a challenge. One day my baby girl will read this so – Honey, mommy loves you. I always have and I always will, but this morning I didn’t particularly like you. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that I didn’t like your behavior.
- It’s not about you. When you are pregnant it’s all about you. Everyone wants to make sure you are ok and that you have everything you need. “Don’t lift that…, Can I get you a glass of water? Why don’t you go take a nap?” Well once you’ve gotten into the crux of parenting, it’s not about you anymore. You can be sure that your kids could care less if you had enough sleep, have a headache or are stressed out about the bills.
- There are 4,575,265 ways to make yourself feel guilty about your parenting choices. It’s a losing battle so you might as well forgive yourself and move on.
- If you give them an inch, they want it ALL! Forget the mile, my kid wants everything she can get. I in turn get frustrated by how ungrateful and demanding she is. End result I lose my cool and am not the ideal parent who says just the right thing. I need to remind myself that it’s my job, like it or not, to create boundaries and reasonable expectations and to stick to them.
- No one really wants to hear about the bad stuff. Advertising tells us that if we drink a certain beverage we will be cool, hip and enjoy fabulous experiences on tropical islands. It also tells us that if we buy our kids every toy in the world our kids will be happy, helpful and cooperative. No one’s going to tell you that some days things stink. Your kids aren’t going to cooperate. Hell, if they are like my daughter they are going to do the exact opposite of what you asked them to do and then smile about it. The anger, fear, disappointment, frustration and overwhelming nature of parenting just does not make for polite conversation.
- Sometimes the little bit is all you’ve got. This refers to money, time, energy, enthusiasm, patience, you name it. Some days you are going to come up short. Hopefully on those days your kids will be on your side, but if not you’ll have to find some inner resolve to handle the situation. If you don’t, you might end up doing or saying something you’ll regret, then you can pick one of the ways from #3 to feel guilty about your actions.
- Your kids don’t care about today’s crisis. Around here it’s always playtime. It never fails that the days I need to get out of the house quickly, are the days my daughter NEEDS to do a in-depth examination of her belly button lint or to show me the phenomenal, one of a kind hand prints she managed to make on the shower door. Best be organized and give yourself plenty of time because kids will be kids, even when you are on the brink of a personal disaster.
- Even the experts get it wrong. I knew this Child Psychologist whose kids had more challenges than the average bear. We expect that if you go to school to learn about children and their behavior, that your kids should be perfect. That’s just not how we are hardwired as human beings. Things that work in theory may not work with your child. That’s not to say that the experts don’t have great kids. I’m just saying that many struggle, just like we do.
- There are no right answers. Kids are like snowflakes. No two are alike. Even twins. Each child has their own individual personality, quirks, likes, strengths, fears and abilities. Although there are a ton of books about child development, there are no answers that work for every child. You are just going to have to find out what works with your child. It’s like life’s Rubix Cube with an absurdly high degree of difficulty.
- You will fail and it will be UGLY. I have yet to meet one parent who doesn’t have a horror story about something they said or did to their child that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. I have many. One time when my daughter was a rambunctious toddler who was misbehaving, I went to spank her on her bottom. She turned around just in time for me to spank her in the middle of her stomach. I still get emotional thinking about it. She wasn’t injured, but I’m sure it hurt. How do you explain to your crying two-year old that you didn’t mean to hit her in the stomach? That you just wanted to spank her bottom so she would stop the bad behavior. You can’t, and I couldn’t take it back so I just held her while she cried. I think I cried too and apologized. It was a failure on my part and it certainly was ugly.