September 20, 2015

Parenting: The Most Epic Mind Game You'll Ever Play

Yes, this is a stock photo. I apparently don't take pictures of my kids messing with my head. For good reason, I'm sure.

I wrote before about The Five Most Common Parenting Fails.  This week I realized that aside from being terrifying and dangerous, parenting is actually just one big mind game that you will never ever figure out. Starting from the second you see those two pink lines and you run the gamut of emotions: you're excited, but terrified, so happy, but also a little sad and all of a sudden you're sure this was a mistake - how can you be a parent!? Whether you've been trying forever or got yourself a real live oops baby does not matter. Embrace this, as it is about to become your new normal. I'm starting to wonder why any of us actually choose to do this to ourselves!? Here's how it goes:

Big Fat Positive Test:

You think, "If I'm just just educated and informed then it will all be easier! I will read and learn and be the best mom ever!"

I hate to break this to you. But all those carefully chosen plans you're making? They go out the window like the second you go into labor.

Good on you if you do your research and learn all you can about that dolphin assisted ocean delivery, plan to breastfeed until they're 5, set healthy sleep habits from the beginning or try to raise a doctor or a lawyer. I did the same thing! But the idea that you can somehow control for things like that is just that - a great idea. The reality being that from here on out shit doesn't always almost never goes to plan.

You're better off just going with the flow and learning as you go. Otherwise you risk losing your mind with the massive amounts of disappointment and stress that come from having your dreams and desires crushed by the will of one (or two) tiny creature(s). Why do we do this again?


Why does everyone keep saying "You will just know what is best! They're your babies!"? I know nothing!!!

You will hear this a lot probably. And yet you will so rarely feel like you know anything. In fact, you will never second guess anything so much as every single parenting decision you make forever from the second they are conceived.

Then there are the times you feel like you know even less than nothing as you've definitely lost some brain cells due to sleep deprivation

The best part is, what you do know and all those plans you made before don't work with your kid anyway. You will constantly wonder if you're doing it right or if you're just the worst parent in the world. You're not, you're probably great at it. But no matter how many times you hear it you so rarely feel that way. What is this sorcery?

At 2 weeks old: 

You believe that it has to be possible to "sleep when the baby sleeps" since that's what EVERYONE TELLS YOU TO DO.

Don't you just love that little tidbit of advice? You can try, but I'm warning you - as soon as you get a chance to lay down, whether for a quick nap or bedtime, that baby will probably wake up, no matter how long it's been since she went down. It's like they have a sensor that goes off as soon as you get comfortable. Whyyyy?

Worse yet, once your baby finally starts sleeping well you will still end up not sleeping, since you know that as soon as you start to drift she'll be up. So of course, she sleeps all night. You don't at all. Because parenting.

At 12 weeks old:

You need to get away and be yourself again, no kids, no milk, no more needs. Or you're gonna lose it. 

The crying, the poop and the lack of sleep are destroying your soul.

You are dying for some time alone, even if you lie about wanting it on facebook or IRL. But when you get it, you can't believe how weird it feels. You feel out of sorts, like a piece of you is missing or something. Probably because it is. Yes, you will hopefully enjoy your pedicure, while texting your SO every five minutes to check in about milk or poops.

You might even have a whopping two drinks while out with friends, but you bet your ass you'll be kicking yourself for missing precious time with them and start randomly poking them when you get home to wake them up and play.*

*Don't do that. It never ends well for anyone.

At 6 months old: 

You're feeling a little better but your marriage is in a rut so maybe a date night, away from the kids, will help. You set a rule: NO KID TALK.

Maybe you can do this. But more likely, when you finally get a night to yourselves all you can talk about is the kids. You don't want to - but you can't help yourselves. And after a while you don't even try to act like it's bothering you. You actually enjoy scrolling through photos of your kids while sharing a cheese plate.

Even worse is the fact that having a baby is a great way to make sure you hardly ever get to "practice" making another one. I hear that can be hard on even the best of marriages.  Because that makes sense - kids don't really need two happy parents after all, right? Did we really choose to do this to ourselves?

At 1 year old:

What the hell just happened?! Where did my baby go?! Damn it, they were right all along.

Remember all those moments that you wished they would just grow up and be "easier"? How about when you were SO sick of people saying "enjoy it while it lasts" or "you'll miss these days!"

Ugh, today you realized just how right they were. Not that it matters in the hard moments but maybe it should. Because one of the most awesome parts of this game is that you tend to miss more of it than you think you are. Because you're too busy being a person too.

And of course, in the blink of an eye they are that "easy" age and shit still ain't easy. So now you feel awful because it really did happen way too fast and you rushed it and you just want your little baby back for a second. Isn't that awesome? Just another part of the gig.

At 5 years old:

You shove away the memory of all the times you said, "Uggggh, I can't stand my mom! I'll never do that to my kids!"

Because you will do that and more.

In fact, you'll probably more of a pain than your mother because you know how hard you were on her. Often, even with the best intentions to "do better/different", you will forget everything you always hated that your parents did and turn right around and do them to your own kids.

I'm not really there yet but I already know how it will go. I will make them eat their veggies, clean up after themselves and go to bed early. All those terrible things that my parents did to me. We get it now. Not that we can do anything about it, but we finally understand why.

Because, all their lives, we just want them to grow up and be happy, healthy, wonderful people. Even if doing so means someday they will leave us.

This is the worst part of this parenting game.

You spend their whole lives protecting, praying for and worrying about them because you feel this unquantifiable love that you can't control. It's insane, heartbreaking and awesome all at the same time. And they just don't understand it. That is until they feel it themselves - only it won't be for you, but for their own children.

The truth is that with all the people we will ever meet, this is the only relationship we that we pour our hearts and souls into all while knowing, hoping even, that this person who we love more than anything will eventually leave us for someone else. 

And the cycle will start all over again.

Like I said, it's just an epic mind game! But so far I think it's worth it.


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