There's a growing trend on my Facebook friends list. An imaginary, but very evident and very clear line is starting to be drawn.
It's the non-parents vs the parents.
And folks, let me tell ya, one of us is being really, really unfair to the other.
I get it, as non-parents, you probably get really tired of seeing 95 pictures of my baby's first bite of carrots. Or maybe you didn't like reading the gory details of by 18-hour labor, I can understand that. I remember seeing those posts before I had children and sure, I'd roll my eyes and scroll on. But you know what? All those pictures, the videos of my babies' first steps, the TMI-posts, those are things I write because I'm proud or excited. They're not designed to offend, tear-down or hurt YOU or any non-parent in any way.
But your posts, the ones about how "no good parent would let XXXXXX happen to their child," those, they're critical, they're mean and they're rude. Sure, maybe you think they're funny, and sometimes, they might be. But they're also funny, because they're picking at all us parents out here who, guess what, don't ALWAYS know what we're doing.
Newsflash, parenting, it doesn't come with a handy guide, and kids, they're not like purchasing a car where you just let them know the make and model and everything make sense. No, kids are much, much more complex than that. And just when you think you have them figured out, they change the game on you again.
So you post something maybe you think is harmless. Like a picture of a warning label that appears on a giant tub. It warns you not to let your child play in the giant tub with the lid because they might become trapped in there. And then, well, you know, something really, really awful might happen. Sure enough I had a friend post something on her Facebook about this. And then all the others joined in on the fun: "I hope if you can't keep your kid out of a big storage tub that you don't have kids." Or, "wow, they really need a warning label on that? How smart are parents today." My favorite would have to be "I don't know whether to find this label hysterical or be completely scared that it's needed."
Hardy har har. Aren't y'all sooooooooooooooooo funny? Having a kid is sooooooooooo easy. No good parent would let their kid play in a storage bin, duh. Don't they know it's dangerous? DUH.
Guess what? When you actually take time to BECOME a parent, which I can only hope you'll lose the judgmental attitude by then (for the sake of your child, who, like you, will be imperfect), you'll find that nearly everything in your day-to-day life should come with a warning label. And even if it shouldn't, you'll be able to come up with about 1,000 ways it should. Because that's what happens when you become a parent. You love this tiny little creature so much, that you start to see all the dangers in the world.
Take for example my son's predilection to jam his chubby baby thighs in his crib slats. Even knowing he only had them stuck in there for oh, three minutes, made me delirious with thoughts of him losing all the blood in his leg and needing it amputated. Or me breaking his tiny little knees trying to get his legs out. Are those things likely to happen in three minutes? Probably not. But when you become a parent, this is the kind of crap that runs through your brain, 24/7.
And you know what? It's exhausting. EXHAUSTING. In fact, it's so exhausting, we should invent a different word for it to truly encompass how DAMN exhausting it is, but we can't, because we're way too tired.
Guess what else happens when you have a child? All those responsibilities you had before having a child? Yeah, they're still there. Birthing a child doesn't automatically include a nanny, a maid or a personal chef. So eventually, you have to start cleaning your house again. And a lot of us go back to work again. And have seemingly normal lives again. Except now, we don't just have to remember that trash day is Friday and the mortgage is due on the first of the month, we have to remember that little Jimmy has a checkup on Wednesday, Suzie has gymnastics on Tuesday, soccer on Friday and a playdate on Saturday with little Jimmy down the road who can't have nuts. And let's not forget when the preschool money is due. Or that the cat needs fed. Or the pile of dishes in the sink. Or that you have a meeting on Wednesday. Or which store your husband is working out of in case you need to call him to pick something up from the grocery store, which you inevitably forgot because you were trying to deal with little Suzie's meltdown because you won't let her have a king-size candy bar. And most importantly, don't forget to schedule time for yourself. Because you wouldn't want to have a nervous breakdown when all these people are relying on you.
And on top of all this, guess what? Becoming a parent, doesn't make us immortal super heroes. In fact, it makes us a little more human and a little more imperfect. So have I let my kids play in a storage bin? Probably. If it granted me three minutes of peace and stopped them from screaming, I probably giggled as I watched my four-year-old push around my son in a laundry basket.
And all those dangers you think "I should know about or I shouldn't even bother becoming a parent," they sneak up on you out of nowhere. And then they haunt you forever. When Pearyn was still a baby, probably six months old or so, I locked myself out of the house with her in it. Alone. On the loose. With no spare key. That's probably not something a "good" or "prepared" parent would do, right? So I probably shouldn't have had kids, right? Because if I could make such a dangerous mistake, surely I'm an unfit mother.
In the 60 seconds it took me to realize what I had done, my instincts took over. I grabbed the ice scraper from my car and broke the basement window. I put a blanket down to hopefully keep the shards of glass from cutting me and I went, with reckless abandon into that broken window and creepy basement, because in the moment I made such an awful mistake, that's the fastest way I could see to rectify it. I ended up with a small gash on my hand and butterfly stitches. And Pearyn was none the wiser. But I still remember what happened. I still check my purse for my keys 19 times before I leave the house.
It's easy to think you know everything before you have a tiny human of your own. It's easy to laugh and point at our mistakes. But just know that while you might be sitting high and mighty now on all your knowledge of "how to raise your non-even-born-yet child," we parents will be over here waiting for you. We'll be waiting for you to lock yourself out of the house on accident, we'll be waiting for your child to fall from a high chair that you swear you tightened as much as you could. And when that happens, most of us, the ones who've been where you are, we'll welcome you with open arms and maybe a really, really stiff drink. Because even though it's your first time, we've been there. And we know how hard it is.
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