When people become parents, they always have pre-conceived notions of how everything is going to be. They plan to take their kid to the park on playdates. They plan to read bedtime stories every single night and never miss a toothbrushing session. They never plan to raise their voice, and bribery is definitely off the table.
And then the children come along and all of those plans go straight out the window.
You know those “new parent” movies about bewildered young couples who enter parenthood without a clue? They always show the dad turning his nose up at dirty diapers and the mom clutching at the last shreds of her sanity while baby spit-up projectiles its way into her open mouth. They’re so cookie-cutter and so cliche and so very, very true! Teenagers watch these movies while babysitting and shrug, rolling their eyes and wondering what on earth is so difficult. I did the same thing.
Until the babies came.
I remember asking my grandma, “Why didn’t you tell me how difficult motherhood would be? Why didn’t someone try to PREPARE me?” She didn’t even miss a beat. “Because I wanted to be a great-grandma.”
I’m not saying that I berate my children by any means, but I raise my voice. I never thought I’d yell. I do. Surprisingly often. We’re entering the “terrible twos” and sometimes after a meltdown in the grocery store followed by dinner inexplicably landing on the ceiling and my cell phone ending up in the toilet…I lose it. Do your children ever seem to be imitating deranged monkeys, or is it just mine? I try to stay calm and explain in my nicest indoor mommy voice that we have to sit still at mealtimes and not flush electronics. But it builds and builds and I inevitably let out a helpless cry. “Don’t eat that! Stop sitting on your brother! For the love of God, just STOP screaming!!!!”
The voice-raising doesn’t end there. Sometimes on the way to “ni-ni time” in the nursery, I stumble over Mega Bloks and loudly let out expletives. Have you ever tried to maintain your balance with a toddler and a four-month-old in your arms while a plastic shard protrudes from your heel? It’s not fun. You would cuss, too.
And then there are days when external stressors add on to this general mayhem. Those days, I do more than raise my voice. I full-on sob. I admit it. Every month or two, there is an all-out Hollywood-style meltdown in our house! I can feel myself losing control and I recognize the look on my husband’s face as he ushers me into our bedroom. “Just lay down for a minute, Hun.” I flop onto our king-sized duvet cover and wallow in self-pity for a full five minutes before sucking it up, tromping out to my sons and bribing them with cookies for just a few more minutes of peace.
Fortunately, tomorrow’s a new day. I’ll get it right then.
What things do you do as a parent that you never pictured?