Before I became a parent, I said a lot of stupid things.
I was ignorant, simply because I had zero experience with children – babies, especially.
My son was the first newborn baby I had ever held IN MY LIFE.
Here, play along with me…
Imagine you’re holding a tiny, brand new infant.
This sweet baby is only hours old, his big blue eyes shining brightly as he looks around at the wide open spaces of a big, new world. He is innocent in every way, an entire lifetime begins right here, in your arms, in this living, breathing being.
Now, imagine the kind of person you would be willing to hand that perfect child over to…officially granting them permission to guide and discipline as they see fit…for the rest of that child’s life.
What do you see? WHO do you see?
Did you think of anyone? Anyone come to mind?
Too bad. You don’t actually have a say.
Ok, Friend. Let me introduce you to who you will choose…because you HAVE to…because that sweet baby you’re holding just came from this person’s hoo-ha…
Allison is about 4 months shy of turning 22 years old. She dropped out of college and married her high school sweetheart after talking about it for approximately 2 minutes. Before they married, her fiance (now husband) went into a building set on speaking to someone about joining the Air Force. He left signed up to serve in the US Navy on a Submarine.
#hatedwater #sortofclaustrophobic #nobigdeal
They had no savings, no education and shared a twin sized bed. They left all of their friends and family behind and moved where the Navy told them to. Allison got pregnant somewhere around her 21st birthday.
*** She often referred to this perfect little angel as her “Margarita Baby” (( and will continue to do so for years and years… )) even though it is quite possible he was, in fact, a product of too much beer and a dash of irresponsibility after a couple rounds of miniature golf at a kids amusement park somewhere in South Carolina. ***
This girl is unemployed. She spends her days cleaning things, making things, cooking horrible things and walking her gender-confused corgi and mentally-challenged mutt…just to be able to say she DID leave the apartment at some point.
She curses. She likes beer. She really likes chinese food.
Allison believes in spanking kids. She believes in strict discipline and scheduled routines. She and her husband have a very clear agreement to be a team, it is their job to command respect and demand the very best from their baby, as he grows. No whining, no tantrums and CERTAINLY no back-talking.
Their kid is acting out?
Smack some sense into that little behind.
Binky has gone missing?
No it hasn’t, because they will never lose ANYTHING.
(( how hard is it to keep track of those things, anyway?? ))
Their baby will be well behaved. He will sleep when told to sleep and eat when given food and generally obey every single thing he is told.
#becausethatsreality #becausetheyareperfectparents #stoplaughing
Yes, this is who you are handing that baby over to.
Yes, you have to.
Because it’s the law. And she did technically MAKE that kid.
Yes, you DO need to show her how to hold him.
No…she hasn’t ever held one.
Or changed one.
I’m sure he’ll be fine!!
So, I know…you didn’t want to give that baby over to Allison. Turns out it’s probably good that you weren’t there that day because then my life would be a whole lot different.
I’ve thought about this a lot, over the past seven years. I’ve thought about how little I truly knew about human beings, about children. I have spent so much time thinking about how little LOVE played into my plans as I approached Motherhood. At the time, I cared mostly about behavior and respect…not relationships.
Before my son was born, I hadn’t ever really considered the idea that parents and children can actually have relationships outside of The Bosses and The Kids.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my children and about how picky I am about babysitters and I’ve accepted that I am fairly paranoid when it comes to any sort of stranger.
My kids, all three and a half of them, are MY WORLD.
Looking back on that girl, laying in the blood stained bed, staring at the popcorn ceiling in a small New York hospital room as a Russian woman stitched up her wounds…I can’t help but think…
“I NEVER would have chosen her to raise my baby.”
Have you ever thought about that?
Have you ever looked at yourself and wondered…
“Would I trust this person with the lives of MY BABIES??”
I have come a long way since those first crazy days of Motherhood. I’ve grown and stretched and broken and healed…physically, emotionally, mentally, financially…
My son changed my world.
In an instant, that tiny blue eyed baby boy turned the page on my life lived as a selfish, reckless girl…
…and then he pooped on it.
Since then, I’ve experienced a lot of life. I’ve grown up and learned and fought and fallen and failed. I’ve been humiliated and ashamed. I’ve been so incredibly proud and overwhelmed with joy. It’s been painful but beautiful, in almost every single possible area of my world.
And it all started with him.
It all started with that chunky little Margarita Baby.
Today, as I crawled towards the finish line that is BED TIME, I sat down in my chair and drank my fresh cup of water as I glared at my children. Yes, I glared.
They ALWAYS ruin my water!!!
There aren’t many days like this anymore…thankfully my Toddler actually sleeps these days. He also eats and doesn’t cry NEARLY as often as he did for the first 18 months of his life.
But these days do still happen.
Some days, I just can’t even handle the crap that comes with parenting. AND BOY, is there a LOT of it. Today, I just couldn’t take the crap. I was tired. I was cranky. I was sore. Actually…I’m still a little bit of all of those things. I’ve been told that this will be a constant thing until I die.
Tired. Cranky. Sore.
Anyway, today sucked. I was a horrible Mom. There’s no nice way to label the emotional wreck of a woman who completely tore apart this beautiful day. I was nasty and short and all sorts of bitter. I was so easily offended by my three year old that I actually told her that she was hurting my feelings and needed to give me some space until I could gather myself.
#iloveyou #butidontlikeyourightnow #iSwearImAnAdult
I was the worst version of myself from the moment I woke up until just about an hour ago, when my little girl fell asleep and looked so peaceful and content that I just kind of forgot about all the feels she had made me feel throughout the day.
And it was then that I realized something very odd…something I really hadn’t thought about before. Not in depth, really. Maybe it is something that needs to be learned in time, maybe it comes with age or experiences. Maybe you have to be a Mom…or maybe you have to be a certain kind of crazy to actually sit and THINK about things like this…
…but no matter how or why it came about, it really hit me hard.
As parents, we have expectations. We have them for ourselves, for our kids, for strangers, for family, friends and even our pets. We go into the delivery or adoption or foster or even BABYSITTING GIG thinking…
“This is how it is going to be.”
We dream and imagine and plan. We talk and discuss and decide. There will be rules. There will be discipline. There will be broccoli. Or, maybe there will be no rules. Spray bottles will replace wooden spoons. Or maybe time-outs will be yoga sessions. Perhaps there will be private schooling…or maybe homeschooling…or…no schooling?
We all go into this bold new adventure thinking WE ARE THE SHIT.
We have this. Things will be good.
Our expectations will never go unfulfilled.
And then…our children enter our worlds. They are born, in one way or another. Some enter the world screaming bloody murder. Some never take a breath at all. Some are signed over to us, some are rescued or given. In one way or another, as parents, we become parents the MOMENT our children enter our lives.
And there is nothing like it. There are no words to describe it.
Suddenly, our hearts are living outside of ourselves…
…and it is terrifying.
Today, in the middle of my mess…in the center of my failures…I stood in front of my little girl and I was sucker-punched with a huge dose of “get-over-yourself”. I sat and stared at her damp, wavy hair and her marker stained hands…
…and I thought…
“How could anyone possibly hold this little girl, this beautiful, crazy, adventurous little girl and willingly hand her over to ME??”
The truth is, some days…I wouldn’t look at the person that I am and CHOOSE to trust them with the precious lives of my kids. And it isn’t because I wouldn’t be able to see that there is a nice house with comfy furniture and plenty of toys and clothes…
It would be because…the person I was today…she is just…so…
My kids are imperfect. They have tempers and emotions. Each of them have such unique personalities and quirks. They each deserve and require attention in different ways. They will mess up. They will break rules. They won’t eat everything…and sometimes, not anything. They have their limits. Some days they need naps. Some days they need cuddles. Some days, they just need GRACE.
Would the woman I was today be able to recognize when these precious children just need a break?? Could I trust her to set aside her expectations and just let my kids…live??
Sometimes I think we get so wrapped up in our own expectations that we ignore what motivates those desires and plans and hopes and dreams in the first place. Sometimes, I think we set such HIGH expectations for OURSELVES that we forget…
…nobody is born knowing how to do this.
Most of us have NO IDEA what the HECK we are doing accepting responsibility for ANY life other than our own…considering most of us are emotional whack-jobs with lots of messy baggage and really, really bad MySpace photos.
(( or yearbook photos…or hand-drawn portraits…or caveman carvings…whatever you’re willing to admit to works just fine… ))
Maybe it’s time to set aside our expectations and pick up a little bit of grace.
Not only for OURSELVES but for our kids. For our families and friends…even for strangers. It’s probably about time we all allow a bit of grace to flood our living rooms and our cars, our texts and our rule books. Maybe even a little bit of grace for our internet providers or the really, really, REALLY crummy drivers who just can’t figure out how to maintain a speed to save their flipping lives…
Grace. Grace is what I was getting to, it’s what grabbed hold of my ego and my pride after my day spent selfishly, came to an end. It’s what encouraged me to set aside my laundry piles and share a bowl of ice cream with my oldest after the younger two had gone to bed.
Even though neither of us really deserved it…especially me…
And it’s grace that I’m going to try to remember tomorrow, as my daughter jumps into my bed much too early and my toddler throws a fit because I STILL haven’t made it to the store to get apples…
…and when my to-do’s don’t get done? Well, maybe I’ll just have some ice cream.