Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P: Parenthood: Stuff They Never Told You


     It's amazing, this whole parenthood thing.  Before you have children, it's really tough to completely understand the whole parenthood picture.  In general, the culture feeds the masses this wonderful, tender portrait of the parent/child relationship.  Comments like, "It's the best thing that ever happened to me"  or  "Oh, he is so cute" or "Isn't her outfit adorable?" all seemingly conspire to make non parents want to take the leap into parenthood.  The soft and tender images of newborns, the sense that people "should" have children, the marketing that goes into creating the all American perfect family, all of this stuff serves to make it seem as if being a parent is definitely worth the price you pay.

    Don't get me wrong.  I am not suggesting that it isn't worth it but there is a part of me that wants to warn non parents that the job is much more difficult than you ever expected.   Here's the thing.  Being a responsible, attentive parent requires that you give and give and give.  From the get go, you are giving away your freedom.  You no longer have all those choices for what to do with your discretionary time.  You also give up your ability to sleep when you want to sleep.  From the get go, you are giving up a TON of money - all those medical expenses, food and clothing items, baby gear, and babysitters in the beginning all the way through lessons, school pictures, birthday presents for a million kid birthday parties, yearbooks, sports, tutors, and then, perhaps college.  That's a  lot of money.  From the get go, you are giving up your heart.  Every time your baby/child is hurting, you are hurting.  And it doesn't stop when they no longer live at home.


      I guess what I am saying here is that a baby's cuteness is an evolutionary survival mechanism.  There are going to be a million hugs, slobbery kisses, and smiles AND there are going to be a million difficult moments.  The difficult moments don't stop when the child is asleep (because that's when you are balancing the checkbook or desperately hoping to sleep yourself).  In the wise words of fellow blogger Melanie Crutchfield**           (words to which non parents would be advised to listen), "Having kids is not about what you get from them.  It's about giving to them.  In perpetuity."

Amen, Sistah!


** Melanie Crutchfield writes  a very cool and engaging blog  - I think the blog title is a simple, "Hello".

15 comments:

  1. With hindsight, my husband has said a sign of good parenting is NOT tossing the baby out when he's crying at 3 in the morning for the first 8 months of his life. (Or was that just our baby?) We are true believers in baby cuteness being an evolutionary survival mechanism!

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    1. Ha! I love it- good parenting=not tossing the baby (or the 16 year old) out - true dat.

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  2. I was just thinking these very thoughts! When I feel the whine coming on (you know the one - "why do I always have to be in charge of everyone's schedule, be responsible for every everlovin' thing that goes on in this house, when do I get to take a break and let someone take care of me..." I remind myself THAT is just the reality of being a mother.

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    1. Yes, it is but it can be difficult. A article in the local paper recently featured a school aged mothers program and, from the comments a couple of the young mothers made, I got that NO one had told them the real story on taking care of a baby/kid/teenager. Babies raising babies.

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  3. Oh but p.s. I wouldn't change my status for the world, even on the worst days.

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  4. And then one day, you turn around and can barely remember those sleepless nights and you look around and the nest is too empty and silent.

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    1. Yes, Lynda, there are moments when the nest is too empty and silent - especially when your baby turned adult has died. And that empty and silent part is another part of the truth of parenting that can't be known until you are there.

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  5. And you NEVER stop worrying about them! EVER! And I mean EVER!!

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  6. Learning to give up my freedom was the hardest thing for me. I used to write throughout the day; now I need to work at night and early in the morning and in the pockets of time I can find when the kids are awake. I don't think I was really prepared for just how much everything changes in that regard.

    That being said, I would never go back to life before kids!

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    1. Yes, everything does change - not necessarily good or bad - just different.

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  7. Thanks for the shout out! (Do people even say that anymore?) And you're right about the cuteness. I can't tell you how many times my husband and I have said to each other, "At least she's cute." Giant eyes and squishy cheeks are their only means of defending themselves from justifiable retribution.

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  8. I'm a non-parent who didn't have kids mostly by choice, but I'd have to say I do have occasional regrets. That's to be expected whatever our parenting choices were, I guess.

    I honestly think I did too much babysitting as a young teen and realized (with teen-aged horror) the really, truly difficult life of a parent, especially of newborns. Relentless dedication. I didn't think I was strong enough to do it!

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  9. I try to be careful who I say this to and where, but I feel relatively safe saying it here, knowing that it will not be misunderstood or construed as condoning something it's not meant to condone: before I had children, I never understood how anyone could abuse a child; now, it seems like a miracle to me that more parents don't.

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