Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things No One Tells You (Part I)

I have been thinking lately about the things no one tells you when you embark upon parenthood.  I am titleing this part I because, let's face it, J is only 3.  I am certain there are going to be infinitely more things that I encounter that will make me think "How come no one told me about that?" Because clearly these are things that every parent knows. When you talk to friends and tell them of a recent experience, they shake their head in a sympathetic way because they have been there too. Yet, they don't warn you.  Well, I am putting it all down here. Whoever reads this will have fair warning!

The first thing that no one tells you is that not all children sleep through the night.  To hear other moms tell it, their babies reached 6 or 8 weeks of age and began sleeping from 7pm to 7am with not even a whimper in between.  But, there are other moms that don't tell you that you could get a kid like J. (Maybe they don't share this one because they don't want to send frazzled new mothers into a tailspin .) J is the world's wost sleeper. I always said he was a happy baby and easy going to make up for the fact that he never slept.  That was the trade off. Happy baby, bad sleeper.  He was one before he made it for an all night stretch.  It is not uncommon for him to have nights where he wakes up 4-5 times (always for such incredibly important reasons such as "my socks hurt" or "I want toast".) And in an everage week, if he sleeps all night 4 of the 7 nights, I am happy. I am also happy if he stays in bed until 6a.m. That is the rule. Now that he knows numbers, he isn't allowed to get up until he sees 6:00 on the clock (although, this morning, he laid awake whispering loudly: 5:44, 5:45, 5:47 so the 6:00 rule didn't really pay off there!).

You also don't get told that everyone will judge how you parent. Yup, everyone.  And it is super frustrating! Although, I have concluded that this one is all about karma. Because before you had kids, who hasn't thought, "Man, that kid is acting up, seriously can't you control them?" or "Seriously, get that screaming kid out of here!".  And then you have your own kids and karma gets ya!  No one warns you of the extreme embarassment you will experience. But, they also don't tell that you that EVERYONE'S kids have meltdowns. Mine is no exception. And eventually, they all do it in public.  And when it happens, the young women look at you like you are the worst parent on Earth because they don't have kids yet and haven't been through it. The moms with older or grown kids do the same because that same hormone that makes you forget how painful labor is apparently also makes you forget what little nincompoops your kids can be. The only ones who understand are the other moms who are abandoning their full grocery carts in the middle of the store to take a screaming kid out to the car. 

And to follow that one up, no one tells you just how hard this parenting thing is!  Sure, you hear people say it is hard. But, no one tells you the nitty gritty, down and dirty truth. It is ridiculously hard.  You juggle your job, your child, what passes for your social life, your home, your marriage.  You function on the already mentioned lack of sleep and cram more into one day than you ever though possible. You will be tired, stressed and overwhelmed.  Your heart will break when you have to discipline your child or take them to get their shots.  You will be sad when their feelings are hurt or they are mistreated. You will be frustrated because, darn it, this kid just won't behave! But the flip side of this reality is that when that child hugs you and says, "I love you mommy" or crawls in your lap and says, "I'm cold, warm me up", you will know happiness and contentment that you could never imagine.  The truth is also that you will have moments that take your breath away. You will experience happiness, pride and love like you never thought possible.  So, I guess the basic warning should have two parts: you will be closer to losing your mind than you ever have been before, but you will be so in love with that child that you won't care.  I think that sums it up!

Also on the list of top secret mommy info is the fact that you will never feel like you are doing a good enough job with your child. You don't get a nice pamphlet entitled: Mommy guilt: You Are Not Alone.  No one tells you that you will lay awake in bed  debating whether or not to run your sick child  to the ER, which formula to use, which diapers to buy, did you give them enough time, love attention etc.? Or that you will agonize over whether or not to send them to Kindergarten or wait a year. Or that you will obsess about just about everything they do all the time.  I don't know if there is an adequate warning for this.  But here it is: WARNING: You will lay down to sleep each night and think, "was I a good enough mom today? Could I have done more or been better? Do I have everything ready for tomorrow?"  Honestly though, the fact that you are thinking that, means you are one darn good mom.

And to end on a light note (since this got heavier than I thought it would!), no one ever tells you that boys are gross (maybe some girls too!). It is as simple as that. They are nasty :)  They think fart and poop jokes are funny from the moment they learn to laugh.  It is hard wired. They will touch things that make you cringe. They will run around in dirty, smelly clothes and not care one bit.  They will eat things off the ground and wipe their noses on you. They just can't help it. It is a DNA thing.

There you have it. Installment number one of "Things No One Tells You." Stay tuned.  This kid is full of good material :)


  1. Oh my gosh. Alec would wake up at 6am when he was little. So I feel/felt your pain for sure!

    1. 6am is heavenly around here Kate! Today, 5:15. Up and ready for cereal.