(Originally published on Suburban Misfit Mom)
Being a mom means being prepared for just about anything. Except that you won’t be. It’s an impossible task, and you’re only setting yourself up for failure when you set such high standards for yourself.
And why set these standards? So many of the things you’ll encounter as a parent will be firsts, and there’s no book that can prep you for that. All the preparation in the world is useless in the face of those indescribable moments.
Sometimes you’re going to laugh, sometimes you’re going to cry, and sometimes you’ll even scream. Like, seriously, there’s a lot of screaming, even if it’s only in your head. And possibly drinking.
In case you’re a doubting Thomas, here are a few examples of parenting moments you can only truly understand and learn about in the moment, when it’s happening to you:
• The first time your sweet little baby pukes in your mouth.
• Explaining to a three year old that it is NOT okay to get naked in the playhouse at daycare and examine each other’s penises.
• Explaining to a four year old that 911 is for REAL emergencies, and the operators don’t appreciate hang-up calls at 5:30 in the morning.
• When you let your kid ride his bike to school for the first time, and, in jest to cover your anxiety, you ask when he gets home, “did you get hit by any cars?” only to get a response of, “well, almost. But only once.”
• Trying to get an explanation for why, and more importantly, HOW the garden hose was broken.
• Trying to get an explanation for why all the duct tape is gone and where it went.
• Trying to get an explanation for why the backyard is filled with sticks completely wrapped in duct tape.
• Trying to get an explanation for why the kids tied each other up with duct tape.
• Trying to get an explanation for why the kids used all the electrical tape after the duct tape was all gone.
• When your kid says, “I hate you,” and all you can come up with is, “well, I must be doing something right.”
• When your kid wears his favorite dragon shirt for picture day, then the next year tries to leave the house in the same shirt. You make him go change it, only to get your pictures and find he stuffed the shirt in his backpack and put it on as soon as it was picture time. Then he deliberately holds onto the now-too-small shirt so he can sneak it to school a third year in a row, just so he can cackle with glee when you pull the pictures out of the envelope and stare in horror at the same damn shirt. (You’ll stare at those pictures for years trying to figure out which year they were taken.)
• When you’re shopping and get a strangely muffled phone call from your kid who reveals he is trapped under the couch, and will you come save him? (Seriously. This is 100% true. I can’t make this stuff up.)
• Calling your mother on the phone, sobbing hysterically, when your oldest drives off in a car by themselves for the first time.
• Calling your mother on the phone, sobbing hysterically, when your youngest drives off in a car by themselves for the first time.
• Trying to figure out the best course of action when you find an e-cigarette in your kid’s room.
• Explaining to two teenagers why it is not okay to beat on each other, and then, when you lose to your younger brother, fall to the floor and pretend to be knocked out until he calls the parental units (who happen to be just docking from their day cruise with friends, trying to explain why they have to leave as they run off in great distress and miss out on delicious cocktails) in a panic because they think they seriously hurt the other one and want to know if they should call 911.
• When your kid gets his first girlfriend, cleans his room for three days better than he ever has before, and then casually asks you “oh hey, by the way, weren’t you guys going out of town this weekend for the holiday?”
• When your eighteen year old asks to take the motor home to prom so “me and my friends have a place to hang out afterward,” and you have to say, “so… you’re asking if I’ll let you take a mobile bedroom to senior prom?”
• When your kid comes home and whips off his beanie like he’s unveiling a Picasso, but instead reveals anime-blue hair.
Yeah, parenting is a wild ride. No book, or movie, or television show, or even an episode of Dr. Phil can ever really prepare you for what’s going to happen. You just have to hang on and try to enjoy the ride.
In the end, if you give the little varmints enough love and acceptance they turn out okay. They begin to grow up a little, and then new firsts pop up. Like, when the first one moves out.
My children are twenty and twenty-two, and I know there’s a whole new set of firsts looming in my future: careers, marriages, moving far away from me, grandkids. I’m both excited and terrified waiting for it all to happen. I know I’ll deal with it the same way I dealt with everything else.
You remember how, don’t you? Laughing, crying and a lot of screaming.
Oh, and don’t forget the drinking. A delicious cocktail always helps.