Motherhood is… funny. The irony of the lessons learned through parenthood feels like a joke at times. Such as how much more I knew about parenting, BEFORE, I became a parent. Let’s be honest, kids have a way of making you realize how much better at parenting you were before you had them.
“My child will never use a soother. I’ll never yell at my kids. I won’t let my life change just because I have kids. I’ll still hang out with my friends every weekend. My child will never say no. My child will be potty trained by two. My child will never throw a tantrum in the grocery store.”
I know better now. One thing we can be sure of is parenthood is nothing like we would expect it to be. Really, if I had to sum up my life as a mother in a single word, it would be, unexpected.
I had a perfect little life all planned out in my head. I would be the Mary Poppins of mothers. The day that fantasy begins to end is in the labor and delivery room. If you don’t lose your dignity then, maybe it will occur on your first trip to the grocery store with spit-up on your shoulder and looking like you haven’t slept in a couple months… because you haven’t. But don’t worry, people are probably paying more attention to the diaper blowout you’re attempting to contain in aisle three.
Of course, the baby stage is just the beginning. Life as I knew it would never be the same. It would never be the way I imagined. But honestly, is anything ever like you dream it will be? Thankfully, parenthood is even better. It’s a life-changing experience, raising kids and loving them more than you ever thought possible. Granted, kids bring enough quirks, bodily fluid, and mischief to the table just to keep life interesting, to say the least.
I never imagined I would have to utter the words “don’t put raisins in your nose” in the middle of a crowded check-out line in the grocery store. Or better yet, having to yell the words “stop licking your brother’s feet!” during breakfast.
Just the other morning, I got out of bed and went to the washroom to get a shower. And there was poop in the tub. My immediate response, a long sigh and “of course there would be poop in the tub. Why wouldn’t there be poop in the tub.” As you can see, not much is surprising to me anymore. But the kids will change that soon enough I am sure.
Before I was a parent I never once, accidentally, dried my face with a urine soaked towel. Why would there even be a urine soaked towel in my cupboard? The answer, children. (In my defense it had been folded neatly with the clean hand towels by my oldest, who had “cleaned up” after himself without telling me.)
My hair, believe it or not, actually used to be mine and mine alone. Now it’s a security blanket for my toddler.
Have you ever asked your husband if he had to go “potty” before leaving the house? No? I have. It was one of the more troubling times in our marriage.
My reflexes have improved. You just never know when a little person will lean right over to tell you a story and sneeze in your face. Not just sneeze mind you… projectile sneeze (is that a thing?) all the food he had conveniently “forgotten” to swallow.
Have you ever looked at someone and wondered what on earth was going on in their head? I have that thought at least once a day here. Most recently my oldest dumped out an entire plant and all its soil onto the floor. When asked why he replied he just had to see what the roots looked like.
I’ve caught my parents grinning at each other knowingly when we visit and they witness our daily “normal”. They’ve been there, done that. I imagine they are thinking something like “Thank God that’s not us anymore” as they observe us struggling… and possibly failing to get our kids out the door.
This is parenthood. It’s messy and exhausting. It’s joyful and humbling. It’s intense and unexpected. We do our best and trust that through our efforts they’ll grow up to be well-adjusted, functioning and kind human beings… despite us. And against all odds, lack of sleep, and the intensity of our days, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What’s the saying?
“If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry.”
…well I have never laughed more.
Now if you’ll excuse me. My toddler is putting together a makeshift ladder out of chair, two boxes, a book, and a water bottle so he can reach the cookie jar, and he’s almost ready to climb. Time for me to ruin his day for the third time this morning.
In the meantime, here is a short list I compiled for my children that could make my day a little easier this Mother’s Day.