Ever notice how becoming a parent not only opens you up to an entirely new universe, but also shows you how full of crap people are as well? Yeah, I know you know. When I was pregnant with my first child, all the moms I knew that breastfed made it sound like breastfeeding was such a natural, easy thing that just happens. Once I had my daughter, I quickly came to realize either I was already a horrible mom, or these women had mislead me to a degree. After 100 different positions, nipple shields, and cabbage in my bra, she and I got the hang of it. It was the beautiful experience they all said it would be, but it was a bitch getting there.
People also go on and on about the terrible two’s…but no one tells you to watch out for three-nagers. My girls were angels at 2 years old. I thought I had made it home free, until 3 came along. All this talk of, “no,” and my personal favorite, “why?” Everything was WHY WHY WHY. Because I said so, that’s why! OMG, I sounded like my parents, and then it all made sense. I spent a year, three times over, explaining with age appropriateness why we did everything we did, from pooping in the toilet to breathing air. WHY WHY WHY me?!?! Because I am a parent, that’s why. Nobody warned me about three….and I do wanna know why.
Things were smooth sailing for a while there, and I got cocky. I thought I had this parenting schtick down pat. It was then that it happened. It happened all oops upside my head too, my oldest became, a teenager. I am not sure when exactly it happened because she was 7, I blinked, and then she was a teenager. Makeup, boys, sports, and now…driving. Someone get me off this crazy ride. My oldest two are now BOTH teenagers, both girls. Yes, I have all girls, and yes, we are cyclically aligned with the moon and the stars. It is a wonder we each survive month to month. I must be doing something right.
Nobody warned me the issues that teens face these days. I mean, you see it out there online, but often it seems unrealistic and fake newsy. But I am here to tell you, online bullying, predators, and the whole kit and kaboodle are real, very real. We have to walk this tightrope of allowing independence and hovering with protective might. I swing back and forth between wanting to lock my teenage daughters in a closet, and wanting to send them to live with the traveling circus. My kids rarely get into trouble and for the most part, are fine, upstanding members of society. I just want to protect them from those who are not.
When I was pregnant with my oldest, I read all the books, made note of all the advice, and listened to everything my mother guilt tripped me about. I thought I was prepared. But just like war, nothing quite prepares you for parenthood. Although, I do think some more realistic examples could be provided. I see some of my friends and family on social media, and I think, “wait, Joan’s life is a hot mess, how does she look so together on Facebook?” Or I see an adorable picture of my friend’s kids, and I ask her how she got them to sit so nicely, only to find out that was 3 hours and 55 threats into the photoshoot, and she had just threatened them with losing all their electronics. Only to get a split second where the photographer was able to snap one single photo in which they did not look completely possessed.
I wish parents would share more of the true stories. I think we could all commiserate and sing Kumbaya together. It isn’t about failing, it’s about persisting. I was proud of my friend for hanging in there, and claiming her one picture worth of glory. But share the war story, so we can all know it is not JUST US, and we do not sit around questioning….WHY??