After reading the post “Save The Drama For Your Mama” by Bob at My Not So Humble Opinion (take a moment to read, it’s an awesome blog, you won’t be disappointed…I’ll wait) I felt compelled to write a rebuttal of sorts. I agree with every single opinion stated, yet still felt a bit miffed. I can’t count the times I have said the same things he did. To be truthful, before i had children I was very vocal about my dislike of these exact behaviors, often yelling my dissatisfaction down grocery store aisles in the general direction of parents blatantly ignoring their children’s deplorable actions. However, I now bring something new to the table…I have children of my own.
Right off the bat Bob goes for the jugular in calling out new parents for being bewildered at the lack of sleep ( Be wary of your personal safety, my not so humble friend, over-tired mothers are a scary bunch!) I get it, I used to feel the same way. How could people really be surprised by the lack of sleep when it is the number one adjustment all parents-to-be are told to be prepared for? I will tell you how. Remember those college (or for some, high school) days where you would stay up 2 days straight cramming for finals (or in my case, drinking/following bands)? Remember the high that came along with being that tired? Remember stretching those days into your grown up life; going out to a party or concert on a work night? Going into work feeling like absolute crap,yet secure in the knowledge that eventually you will get sleep? Well, being a new parent is kind of like that. Minus the music. Minus the alcohol. Minus the high. Minus the eventuality of catching up on your sleep. Ever. See, it isn’t so much that you can’t deal with it happening, it’s that it never stops happening. You hear a voice that sing-songs in your ear day and night “THIS is what you wanted! THIS is everything you asked for!” (and man, is that a snarky bitch in your ear). We are conditioned our entire lives that when nighttime hits, your body winds down and recharges. That never happens. The baby doesn’t give a shit. And honestly? When children are that young, they are thankless little balls of noise and poop who only possess the ability to convey discontent. It’s all about “feed me, clean me, hold me” repeat for the foreseeable future. No “thank you”. No “you are awesome”. Not even a little smile to tell you that you are doing a good job. Compounding all of this, there is the NON-STOP chitter-chatter of every single mother you come in contact with telling you to “Cherish every moment! It goes by so fast!” which you would love to do, if only you could find time to take a shower, or pee, or eat, or fucking sleep!!! Ahem. It is so much more than the lack of sleep, yet the lack of sleep is the only thing that is socially acceptable to talk about in casual circles. You can’t tell people that while this is supposed to be the happiest time of your life you wish more than anything that you knew how to do this job you wanted so badly. The bright side to all of this is that eventually you do get the smile, and you do get the occasional “thank you” and you start to see that you aren’t failing, and yes, you even get to sleep, but that feels very far off when you are trying to fall asleep knowing the baby will be up in 40 minutes. Again. On this one, Bob, I am Guilty.
After the sleeplessness-surprise, Bob goes on to address the habit many parents have developed of making excuses for their children. I would love to say I never do this, but I don’t want my children to lie, so I gave that habit up. I have done it, and I stand by it. The excuse I have been guilty of using most is “they haven’t had their nap” and it has always been true. There are two things that my children need to function at a respectable level, food and sleep. If I screw up (and I do, because I am sleep and personal-space deprived) and don’t time things properly, causing them to wait for either, I pay dearly. However, I don’t let my explanation excuse them. They are old enough to understand that sometimes we actually DO have to do things on a bit of a different schedule. I always try to accommodate their needs before anything else and if I can’t, it isn’t license to behave like animals. I am a very big supporter of privilege removal, and my children know there are consequences for their negative actions. This works most of the time, but when it doesn’t, I have resorted to reminding them I have the ability to spank. Now, I will never beat my children, but they don’t know that. I find that the fear of a beating has done wonders in assisting me to keep control. So I am going to go with Partially Guilty, but with Just Cause on this one.
Moving along to parents taking their children’s word over anyone else. I hate when parents do this. However, I have done this, and the simple answer is this: I like my kids better than the adults trying to rat them out. I know that is petty, but the only people who have pointed out something my kids said or did wrong are people who have annoyed me. Now for the record, these occurrences are very rare, but keep in mind that having children is a narcissistic endeavor, and parents are prone to believe that the best of all they have to offer the world is wrapped up in these little packages, so when you go after a child, you are going after the parent. Tread lightly and with tact. Guilty, but with Provocation.
Growing your own friends. I have had issues with people trying to be their children’s best friends for years, but never had such an eloquent way to put it. I AM NOT MY CHILDS FRIEND! That doesn’t mean I wont talk to them about everything and anything, it means that I have a job to do. I will be their guide, their example, their unconditional love giver, but never their friend. Maybe one day when they are adults I will be able to develop a friendship with them, and truly hope for this, but for now I am vigilant in the responsibility given to me the day I gave birth. I won’t back down because they don’t “like” me and I certainly won’t back down when they tell me they hate me. I will love them enough that they can say and even feel those things and never lose confidence in my love for them. A parent’s skin has to be thick to withstand all that parenting entails. Not Guilty!
Bullying. These are poignant words Bob writes. And I feel every single one of them. He points out that parents need to step up and stop this behavior in their children, and he is right. I think the worse thing as a parent has got to be to finding out that you raised a bully. It is such a colossal fail as a parent. As a human. There is no excuse for this. Not Guilty.
Bob also makes a superb point in saying that children emulate what they see in the home. So very true! It isn’t always easy to portray behavior that is befitting of young children though. My husband and I have learned this the hard way. We are (or rather, were) extremely sarcastic people. Everything we said dripped in it and we never skipped a chance for a snappy comeback. We now have three very fresh-mouthed children (who are getting their mouths soaped). But it isn’t really fair to them because they are just rehashing what they have heard at home from the two most important people in their lives. The best we can do in this situation is learn to temper our snark. And we are. But old habits die-hard. Especially old habits that we spent years cultivating to snarktastic perfection! Guilty, and ashamed.
Let’s face it, having children by choice is the genetic equivalent of bringing home your best artwork and hanging it on the fridge. Hey Ma! Look what I made!! Every new parent believes that they know something that gives them an edge over the hundreds of thousands who floundered before them, they look with disdain at other parents, smug in the false knowledge they will do it better. It’s an awful moment when you realize just how wrong you were. This isn’t to infer that the effort isn’t worth it, the rewards are many, but let’s be real here. Once you have even one child, your chances of being vomited on, peed on, and yes, even pooped on have tripled. It’s not exactly for the faint-hearted, and yet, it is the fluttery of heart who fantasize about the wonders of parenthood before hurtling across that threshold. We all start out with a clear set of rules we swear we will follow to raise the best possible human. And that is the plan…until the lack of sleep sets in 😉