It’s really not fun
I have a friend who is expecting her first baby right now. She is a very thoughtful and enthusiastic person who is excited about motherhood and who is trying to get a realistic understanding of just what she is headed into. Traditionally, older parents are evil when it comes to expectant parents. We hold it all back, don’t tell them a thing about the realities of what to expect, and then stand back and laugh while they are wading through it. I have to admit that I feel the urge to do it myself from time to time and I am a really kind person, but it happens all the same. Maybe it is an instinct to find universal compensation for all of the times that we watched the people who didn’t have kids go out to yet another concert or fancy restaurant while we sat at home eating cold hot dog pieces off of our kids discarded plates, or maybe it is because of all of the times that we received unwelcome advice about parenting from people who didn’t have kids…but for whatever reason. We do tend to hold back the truth.
So, today I saw this expectant mother post a comment on another friend’s picture on Facebook. There were pictures posted of a cooking project and my friend who is expecting wrote a nice comment about how fun it looked. And I laughed out loud. I haven’t posted the honest comment, nor has anyone else so far, that would inform her about the reality of the situation. For me, and my kids are a little older now so it’s a little easier, those projects were not fun, they were hell. As parents we develop this amnesia where we see a cute idea in a magazine or something, and we think: “Gee, that looks simple, and the kids will have such fun, and we’ll get such cute pictures…” Then when we actually try to do it; it is an absolute nightmare. There is icing on the ceiling and in everyone’s hair, and of course all over you. You have to bathe all of the kids afterwards, and wipe down the entire kitchen, and there are probably new stains on the rug. Now they are hopped up on sugar and running all over the place like drunken frat boys. Whatever you made doesn’t look anything like it was supposed to look like (so much for the cute pictures) and you are afraid to taste it because you watched your kids stick every single piece in their mouths. There are usually fights in the middle of it as well, about who gets to lick which spatula or whatever, and by the end you are entirely exhausted, done, swearing to yourself that you will never attempt anything like that again, ever. And then you do, because you love them, and the will only be this age for the blink of an eye.
You would think that excursions outside the home would be easier, but of course they aren’t. You don’t have to clean up the park that you took them to, but just getting them out of the house is an endeavor in itself, remembering everything that you need is practically impossible. The kids don’t eat as well when they are not at home and they get tired and cranky. You have to chase them around a lot, and when you finally arrive home, already exhausted, you have a backseat to clean and all of the gear to unpack and no one has even had dinner yet.
Parenting is awesome, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. It is one of the absolute hardest and probably the most rewarding things in the whole world too. I will make sure that my friend reads this, so that I can dutifully pass on the honesty. Try to remember this the next time that someone asks you for advice, why sugar coat it, it only makes it harder on someone else? I’m not saying that you have to let everything loose at once and scare the crap out of someone that you care about, but be real. I think if we all did it more often we would probably trust each other a lot more.