I’m going to let my non-parent friends in on a couple of the secrets that we parents don’t want you to know until you join the club. I’m probably breaking some code of silence, but here goes. It’s ugly, it’s shameful, but it’s the truth about being a parent.
1.) We try to look like we’ve got it under control (even when we don’t) – Every parent has been there. Out in public with your little one when they totally freak out on you. There you are, in a sea full of criticizing eyes, knowing that your kid is winning this one. What does a parent do? Fake it. Act like you can handle it. I caught myself doing this today at the store. Brogan decided he was going to make this ungodly noise that was a cross between a growl and a scream. He was pissed. There was a guy right next to us and so what do I do, I calmly said “Brogan, you’re a dinosaur!” Acting like his guttural noise was an attempt at make-believe (which I knew it was not). Then Brogan said, “Mommy, I’m not a dinosaur, I’m angry!” I quickly pushed the cart away.
2.) We all cut corners – Let’s face it, parenting requires a lot of work! And we’re all human – we get lazy. Sometimes the offense is minor, sometimes it’s not. Almost all the time, you like to keep it hush-hush. And we all live in fear that our kids are going to report our transgressions. So when I take Brogan to the dentist in a couple of weeks and the dentist asks if he brushes twice a day I’m going to try and change the subject and hope Brogan does not tell on me.
3.) Every night is a countdown to bedtime – No matter how much you enjoy your kids, every evening you can’t wait to put them to bed. It’s like getting off work on a Friday, you can’t help but watch the clock. Any parent who says they wish their kid could stay up later so they could spend more time with them is a liar. Period. Now the morning, that’s a different story. Something about a full night’s rest that gets you recharged and ready to be on duty again.
4.) Kids knock you down a couple of rungs – So however “together” you think you are prior to kids, your kids will help dish you a healthy dose of reality and get your ego in check. Always on time for things? Haha. House always clean? Yeahhh. You actually shower, get dressed, put on makeup and do your hair every morning? Mmmkay. Things won’t be perfect with kids, and you will either have to learn to deal with it, or get ready for some serious stress and disappointment.
5.) A trip to Target by yourself is more of a vacation than a vacation with kids – It is the truth. At least while your kids are really young, a vacation with kids is so not a vacation. Basically what you do is take all of the stress and responsibility of parenting and plop it into a new environment that is not kid-proofed and to top it off, you’re out of your routine. So you get over-stimulated kids on not as much sleep who are going around breaking someone else’s stuff. Sound fun? Now a solo trip to Target, pure bliss. So next time you see vacation pictures where the whole family is smiling and happy, just know, there is more going on than what meets the eye.
6.) The art of ignoring – So there are two different kinds of ignoring when you’re a parent. The first is essential, sometimes you must ignore the banging of the pots and pans or the kid’s shows on repeat to maintain your sanity. This is not the ignoring I’m talking about. The one I’m referring to is the ignoring something because you don’t want to deal with it. When you observe them (but they’re unaware) doing something in that gray area of they won’t hurt themselves, but they still shouldn’t be doing it, you ignore it because it is easier than the round and round and round you will go to get them to stop. I know, I know, it’s awful and lazy, but I’m just telling you, it happens.
7.) Karma is our friend – There is nothing that will bring out the I told you so more than your kid getting a natural consequence to something you told them not to do. Brogan, stop running around the house! And then he trips and falls. And then I get to say, “Brogan, see what happens when you don’t do what mommy says, you get hurt!” Now before you start to think I’m a terrible person, I’m only referring to the minor things. When they really hurt themselves, it’s a whole different reaction, it’s drop everything, run to them, scoop them up, hug them and kiss them, and once you’ve made sure they’re okay, then you tell them they should have listened to you.
8.) We all lie to our kids – No one prepared me for the barrage of questions I would get from my son. Everything is followed by “why?” – “why are we going home?” “why is it time to go to bed?” “why do we have to eat dinner?” “why do we have to leave?” “why do I have to go to school?” “why do I have to wear socks?” OMG it’s exhausting. While the mom that I was when Brogan first started talking answered all of his little inquiries with thoughtful answers, looking at every question as an opportunity for learning, the mom I am now, worn out by a year’s worth of badgering, answers with the infamous “Because I said so!” or I lie. I really try not to lie, but sometimes it just comes out. So this one is really bad, like, really bad, and I probably should think better of it and not confess. But I promised authenticity, so here goes. The other day we were at the store and walked by the candy aisle (first mistake). So there he goes, “mommy, can I have some?” “No.” “Why?? Why can’t I have some?” [Repeat 22 times, we’ve even left the aisle and he still won’t stop] Then he asked, “does it have nuts?” And I said yes. And he stopped asking. I told my child with a nut allergy that the candy (with no nuts) that he wanted had nuts. Sign me up for parent of the year!! I still feel guilty about this one, so I doubt that will happen again, but I’m sure it won’t be the last tall tale I tell my sons.