The life lessons you learn when you're a parent are some of the most important ones you will ever learn. As a childless adult, I used to make THE most pretentious assumptions about parents and their kids. I also took a hell of a lot for granted. If you are a parent, I hope you will appreciate this. For those of you who are childless, I hope you can learn something. Here are some of the best life lessons you learn when you're a parent.
1. Peeing Alone is a Luxury
Peeing alone, showering alone, puking alone…all of these things are a luxury. One of the most important life lessons you learn when you're a parent is that ANY time alone is a luxury. From the second they learn to walk, small people believe it is their right to accompany you to the bathroom. The more their mental agility improves, the better they get at manipulating locks from the outside. So when you do get to do anything in the bathroom alone, cherish it.
2. Kids Are Uncontrollable in Public
I was such a smug parent in the early days. The second I got my hands on that infant, I most definitely knew everything about every stage of parenting ever. That was, until, she started to walk and talk. Cue public tantrums. I now understand why every parent I have ever stared at as their kid tears a store apart with his or her screams looked at me as though they wanted to drown me.
3. Everyone Knows Better than You
Feed your kid the odd jar, you are killing them with additives. Boil vegetables and mash them, you are cooking out the nutrients and committing a host of malnourishment crimes. Steam them, mash them, and put them in little cube trays and freeze them, you are running the risk of contaminating their food with plastic. Trust me, no matter how pious you are about parenting, some SanctiMommy out there has done it better, more natural, and while making a contribution to broader society in some way. Don’t even bother competing, you’ll drive yourself nuts.
4. Your Mother is Not Right
Until you become a parent it is so natural to believe your parents and grandparents are the leading authority on, well, everything! I was the same, until my parents’ recommendations included rubbing brandy on my six-week-old’s gums to help her sleep, spiking her milk with sugar to keep her full, and weaning at three months. Your parents also aren’t right when they say Megan down the street lost her baby weight in three months, so you should too. Your parents mean well, they raised you brilliantly, and they care. However, it is absolutely okay to smile, nod, and then completely disregard whatever it is they tell you about parenting.
5. Perfection is Unattainable
And that is totally okay. This was something I didn’t fully realize or accept until child number two. Now the sea of trains, oversized dominoes, and many, many books don’t really matter. To my childless and one-child friends, this is quite a big deal. I sort of take twisted pleasure in thinking about when the mania hits them. A side note on this point: never take bloggers seriously. Sure, they are crafting their kids’ pillows from the breath of a thousand angels in true Stepford Mom style. On the surface, that is. You’re doing fine as you are—perfection isn’t a reality.
6. You Have a Whole New Sense of Humor Hidden Away Somewhere
Until you have kids, you won’t unlock that strange sense of humor that is tucked away somewhere. Whether it is constant exposure to absolutely ridiculous acts or tiredness driving you into a sense of mania, you will develop a warped sense of humor. Suddenly Spongebob becomes funny instead of being just weird. Six-year-olds’ jokes are on your level. This makes up for a lot of the stresses, honestly.
7. You Are Incredibly Thick Skinned
I was once the woman who crumbled at the slightest critique. Several episodes of other mothers criticizing my birth/use of my breasts, old people remarking on their behavior in public, and the little lovelies themselves questioning my cooking (which, to be honest, is pretty questionable at times) later and I have thicker skin than a rhino. The desensitization to worthless criticism is amazing. If you were thick skinned in the first place/already are, be grateful for that! For the rest of us, this learning curve is fun when we reach the end of it. After an episode where three old women treated my son’s tantrum like a really terrible movie opening the other day, I have realised my skin is incredibly thick. I just did not care.
Parenting is fun, honestly it is. But it is those little learning curves and strengthening experiences that make you learn a lot about yourself. Even when it is hard, the cute and fun moments make it all absolutely worth it. What did you learn about yourself/life as a parent?