May 7, 2015

Did I Sign Up for This?

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Do you enjoy being a parent?

Now stop.

Stop and think about what that really means before you blurt out the obligatory, “My kids are my life” bullsh*t.

I’m not asking, “Do you love your kids?”— that’s a dumb-ass question. Of course we all love our kids. So much so that we’d take a bullet for them, or take their place in the Hunger Games. Verbally beat down any kid stupid enough to mess with them. Not that I’ve ever done that. Ahem.

No, I’m talking about the act of parenting itself. The daily routine of it all. The feeding, the cleaning, the herding, the organized activities, the tantrums, the homework, the to and fro, the bath time, the bedtime. Well, I know we all love bedtime.

So, what does that say about us as “parents” that our favorite time of day is when the beings that entitles us to don that title are unconscious? Does this mean our decision was ill advised?

Why do we have kids in the first place, if the very act of parenting causes our eyes to roll and activates our need to un-cork the wine bottle with the ferocity of a Tasmanian Devil? Even as I write this my three year old is putting his head in the back of my shirt, the one I’m wearing mind you, while rolling his match box car up my spine. Oh, the joys of parenthood.

So why do we do it?

Societal pressure—love, marriage, baby carriage and the lot? A primal need to procreate in order to further our genetic print on the planet? Your mother-in-law’s stink eye because your not yet round with her prince’s child?

Who the hell knows. I think most of us just want to have kids. No coercion or Darwinian motivation needed. You met someone, you love them, and you want to start a family. You don’t really know what that entails and, as with most epic endeavors, find yourself in way over your head and ill equipped to handle the realities of parenthood. In fact, if I saw a job listing titled: “Stay at Home Mom” followed by the laundry list of position requirements, I would be flipping the computer the bird, or demanding eleventy billion dollars.

But now I have the job. The only one I can flip off is myself, or my husband behind his back. And the only raise I get is getting the $16 bottle of vino or adding the paraffin wax to my pedicure.

There are those who seem to relish every second of their kids’ lives, taking parenting in stride and with ease. Never complaining, ever cheering. Finding everything their kids do enchanting and delightful…then there’s the rest of us.

Most of the time I just want to get from point A to point B. Point A being my coffee pot and point B being my wine glass when the house is finally silent without having a melt down.

So what about the in between?

Of course there are those moments when the kids are being precious. There’s a laugh in your throat and warmth in your chest. The sun is shining. Unicorns are nibbling on four leaf clovers as the double rainbow streaks across the sky. And at that moment, you think, this, this is what it’s all about. This is why we had children. Then one kid steps in an ant hill and the other says they’re bored and that the unicorn’s horn isn’t as sparkly they thought it would be. (Said unicorn shakes its head thanking the fairy gods she dodged that bullet.)

Cue the record scratch.

We all know life is not rainbows and unicorns, and kids, although angelic and loving, are often a pain in the ass. Some days are great. Some days are bad. So bad that testing the latest line of pap smear equipment sounds preferable. Somedays you stand in front of the medicine cabinet pondering, multi-vitamin or Xanax? Some days you hear the word mom so many times you want to jam a shish-kabob skewer in your ear drum just to make it stop.

Some days you just sit and remember the gilded age known as BTK (before the kids.) When Sunday fun-day included drinks on a patio, not three soccer games topped off with a birthday party where a creepy robotic mouse serenades you over a plate of bad pizza. Or back when your labia didn’t resemble a turkey waddle.

Aaah, those were the days.

The bottom line is that parenting exceeds expectations and falls short of them in equal measure. A true paradox and always bi-polar.

One minute you want to hug them and the next you want to be a crusader for sterilization.

It’s annoying, amazing, frustrating, fulfilling. Name an adjective and you can apply it to parenthood. Well, except relaxing… But, if the permanent absence of these little creatures is unfathomable, and a hug from them is the balm for all that ails, then whether or not you enjoy “parenting” is irrelevant.

Bottom line is you love the little buggers. All we can do is lead by example and do our best to enjoy the ride. (See Xanax and wine.)

As I finish this piece my three year old just told his nine year old sister that he loves her and climbed onto her lap. Cue the heart strings.

Oh, were you expecting pearls of wisdom? Sorry, I’m just making it up as I go along.

Relephant Read:

To The Mom at the Park Trying to Ignore her Kids.

Author: Nikki Thompson

Apprentice Editor: Keeley Milne / Editor: Travis May

Photos: Photo Divine (Kyla Jenkinson), Flickr

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