I have a love-hate relationship with Miriam Webster’s definition of parenting:
Parenting: the process of taking care of children until they are old enough to take care of themselves : the things that parents do to raise a child
“The process…” Parenting is definitely a process…an ever changing process. One day you’re doing a great job and feel like super-mom. The kids are all dressed, clean, fed, well-behaved, and reading books about shapes and colors like the little geniuses they are. You feel like they’re God’s gift to the world. The next day the kids are running rampant. They’re throwing tantrums, kicking random people in the grocery store (ask my dad about that one…), coloring on your walls, pooping on your carpet, and you feel like aliens have invaded and clearly have taken over your home. You find yourself curled up on the shower floor crying and repeating “I just want to go to bed” over and over and over again because you’re totally and completely depleted physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually…there’s just nothing left but a good cry. And your kids are standing there naked in the shower with you because they’d likely kill each other if you took your eyes off of them. Congrats, mom. You just successfully demonstrated a meltdown to your kids. Fail. And you do all of this so that they can hate you when they’re teenagers and tell you how unfair you are and how much you’ve ruined their lives…yah. *eyeroll*
Becoming a parent is a process. You don’t just wake up one day and become a parent. I mean…you could argue that the day your child is born or conceived is the day you become a parent. But “parenting” isn’t just the act of having a baby. It is the act of taking care of that child until they can do it on their own.
Here’s where the “hate” part of this definition comes in: “until….” So you are parenting “until…” I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m 28 years old and my parent still are parenting. It may be different than it was 20 years ago, but they’re still parenting. And “until..” “Until they are old enough to take care of themselves…” But when the heck is that?? Human babies are some of the most helpless creatures on Earth. And I’ve met some adults who are pretty helpless too. And who decides? What qualifies as taking care of oneself? And what if they have kids and choose not to take care of them? Then your grandPARENTING.
Really, it comes down to a lifelong commitment. When you decide you’re going to be a parent, you take the highs, lows, and maybe even the highs and lows of your grand kids. It doesn’t end. You’ve decided that, for the rest of your life, the first person you’re going to consider in the morning is no longer yourself…it is your kid and his/her well being. You’ve committed to countless sleepless nights when they’re young because they need you…and when they’re old because they don’t. You’ve chosen to forgo all that makes you comfortable that someone else might be comfortable instead.
Yesterday I was talking to someone and he said, “Man, I’m so tired. When I get home I’m going to crash. I’m going straight to bed. I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning.” I totally get it. It is so hard to function when you’re tired. I remember when I’d put in an 8 hour day, then work a night shift as a waitress, get home, sleep, and get up at 4am for another day’s work. It was exhausting. I also remember when I could look forward to bedtime…look forward to the weekend or the next major holiday and get a day off. I laughed and said, “oh. I’d love to say that too”, as I gestured toward Miles, “I sleep when he says I can sleep.” He laughed and said, “and THAT is why we do not have kids yet. I still want [me] time.”
He went on to tell how a friend of his said something like, “you know those parents that have a few kids and they just seem to hate their lives…???” This may sound awful, but I get it! I totally get it! 90% of the time you’re watching those parents out in public. They’re walking around WalMart with a cart full of kids who are screaming because they want to walk, grabbing things off the shelves when you’re not looking, hitting each other, hitting you, and there’s not much you can do about it because you’re in public. Yeah. I hate my life in those moments. I HATE when my kids don’t listen to me. I HATE having to discipline them. I hate not getting to sleep, shower, eat, or even pee by myself. I hate those things. I also hate how I am nowhere near where I thought I’d be ten years ago. I was not planning on being a 28 year old of 3 boys who hasn’t had a “real job”…well, ever! (I hardly think part-time and seasonal jobs through high school and college count). I hate how under appreciated parents are. I hate the nasty looks I get when my newborn is crying in the store. I hate how people whine when I get on an airplane…how I’m suddenly avoided like a leper. I hate how I always smell like spit up and dirt. I hate that I can’t just shut it all off for a day. Even if I was to get away, I’d still be thinking about my kids and feeling guilty for even having the desire to take a break. I hate that I don’t get a coffee break, lunch break, potty break…
I LOVE getting kisses, though. I love the hugs. I love kissing away tears. I love hearing “I love you, mommy.” I love morning (afternoon and evening…) cuddles. I love when my kids suddenly do something I’ve been trying to teach them forever! I love hearing stories about how Emery reached out to a little boy at school who didn’t seem to have anyone to play with, “my name is Emery. What’s your name?” I love when Levi says, “I missed you, Emmy!” I love when they ask to hold Miles. I love watching them grow and celebrating their birthdays and all they teach me about life and love. I love being a mommy. It isn’t easy. It isn’t glamorous. The pay sucks. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I have a love-hate relationship with parenting. But I wouldn’t give it up for the world. My kids mean so much more to me than I could ever express and I am so grateful for this gift.
As a parting gift, here are some funny videos about kids and parenting…
Mr. Universe 4 Kids