Not to state the obvious, but becoming a parent is kind of a big deal. One day you don’t have a kid and the next day you do and your life won’t ever be the same. It’s quite an adjustment. Even with nine months of warning.
I don’t care how much time you spend getting ready, how many books you read, how much stuff you buy: you can’t truly prepare for having kids because nothing prepares you for having kids except having kids. Being a parent takes some getting used to and it’s not always easy, especially at first.
It’s okay to admit your kid is an asshole sometimes. It’s okay to hate being a parent sometimes. And it’s okay to hate your baby.
Before I became a parent, I didn’t know if I could handle it.
I had never even held a child, let alone changed a diaper, and I honestly wasn’t sure if I had what it takes. Was there a switch that would flip when I saw his face for the first time? Was the ability to care for a child something hard-coded in my biology that would suddenly materialize in me when my son was born?
Yes and no. I was lucky to love Detective Munch right from the start (though I can totally understand the adjustment period some new parents weather; there’s not much there there at the beginning!), but Morpheus wasn’t around to instantly upload the Parenting program into my skull. I just took it one day at a time – I still do – and slowly but surely adapted to my new role, and my new reality.
There are still plenty of aspects of parenting that I’m insecure about, plenty of situations I have yet to experience, and I have no real idea how I’ll react when confronted with them.
When we moved back to Brooklyn, our already-complicated apartment search was complicated further by Detective Munch’s upcoming entry into preschool. In New York – if you believe the hype – even the preschool your kid attends can influence his future.
We ultimately had to choose between two schools: one that had some potential drawbacks but was in a much more convenient location, and one that had a better reputation, but would be a hassle to get to. Life was so much easier when there were fewer people to worry about. Now I have to consider the toddler?
We chose the better, less convenient school. Because parenting.
Mom and Buried sent me a link to a parenting article, as moms do. After promising her I’d read it and then lying that I’d read it! (as dads do!), I quickly went back and actually read it. It was kind of difficult to focus, though, what with all the eye-rolling.
Parenting articles can be frustrating to read, despite the fact that they often contain some truly useful suggestions. All parenting advice is great in theory and in a vacuum; that’s why non-parents love dishing it out.
Of course, in real-life situations, with real-life sociopathic children and real-life at-the-end-of-their-rope parents, it’s not long before your best laid plans explode in your face.
Which is exactly what makes this kind of parenting advice so easy to mock.
This morning I went to the DMV.
I don’t even have to say anything else; you already know how my morning went. Add subway troubles and tax issues to that and you’ll have a decent idea of why my Friday is starting to feel like a Monday.
The good news is that when I get home there’s a decent chance my son will tell me he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore before spending a large chunk of the three hours before he goes to bed screaming and whining and being put in time-out.
Suddenly the DMV doesn’t seem so bad.
Halloween doesn’t mean the same thing when you’re ten as it does when you’re twenty. Or when you have kids of your own. Priorities change…
Check out this handy chart detailing all the different stages of the spookiest night of the year!
My son was born in the middle of September, so when his first Halloween came around, he was barely even a thing yet, let alone someone who might one day want to dress up as Thing. But that didn’t stop Mom and Buried from putting him in a little lion outfit and parading him around the neighborhood, to the delight of everyone because that shit is cute.
When his second Halloween came around, he went as a monkey. We initially tried a skeleton outfit but that did not go over well. To be honest, neither did the monkey, most of the time. But crying and screaming was kind of his thing back then. (Not that that’s changed much.) Last year was his third Halloween, and he was totally on board, chomping at the bit to be Jake the Neverland Pirate.
Finally, it was up to him to choose his costume. And it should always be from now on.
Parenting is a nonstop merry-go-round of comparison, guilt and judgment.
We feel guilty when we screw up. We judge other parents when they screw up. We endlessly compare ourselves to those same parents, unaware – or, more honestly, unwilling to accept – that they are experiencing exactly the same trials and tribulations, riding the same roller-coaster, as we are.
We pit ourselves against the world, against non-parents and other parents and even our spouses, eliminating the curve and grading everything on a scale of zero or 100, using extreme language in the service of unrealistic standards. In so doing, we isolate ourselves from each other.
It’s time we started using our broad assumptions and wild generalizations to be inclusive instead of exclusive. I’ll give it a try.
Is there anything your munchkin says that ISN’T on this list? Add it in the comments!