Eating Our Young: How About We Stop Saying that Our Children Ruin Our Lives?


Eating Young BoxIn the last two days I’ve read your laments… Oh, Mom who hates snow days and Dad whose child has ruined his life…  Where do I begin?

I get it. I really do.  You are trying to be funny.  Life BC (before children) and AD (after diapers account for 1/5 of your annual budget) are two very different undertakings.  The contrast is stark.  It IS a difficult adjustment and there IS a lot of good comedic material there.  

Yes, there are luxuries –such as going to the bathroom alone– that I no longer have now that my title is Mom.  Sometimes I do have to scream at the top of my lungs, “I’m in the bathroom…WAIT JUST A SECOND!”  Then, afterwards, try to rationally explain to the intruders that making them a sandwich, from the potty, is just not on my list of super powers.  

I also understand, Snow Day Hating Mom, that “you are not a short order cook” and don’t like to be interrupted.  I hear you Life-Ruined Dad– I realize it’s a disappointment to miss CSI Miami for DVR’d episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.   And, I know it’s a major inconvenience to share your sandwich when your child has an identical one of his own.  Trust me, trying to convince my children that Girl Scout Thin Mints are an “adults only” snack has been difficult to pull off.

No one is a natural born mother (or father).  I’ve come to realize that this concept is very much like the myth of the “naturally thin person.”  (I used to think such a person existed. It’s not true. They just eat less.) 

I digress…

No woman has a baby and then gets gooey feelings about the fact that she’s going to now have more daily encounters with bodily fluids than she ever imagined.  That’s just one paragraph that was conveniently deleted from the “Become a Parent!” marketing materials.file000536581293

We engage in these sometimes painful parts of the parenting journey because they are necessary.  Not necessarily because they are enjoyable.

My choice to stay home had nothing to do with my ability to “handle” these not-necessarily-enjoyable parts of child-rearing.  It’s hard. I struggle.  My days don’t look anything like a Hallmark commercial.

But, at the end of the day they are my children.  God gave these gifts to ME.  Wiping bottoms, blowing noses, cutting crusts off of sandwiches, fixing rainbow looms…

That’s all just a part of the job, isn’t it?

The sharing and sacrifice… The sleepless nights and sheer loss of your sanity when you find yourself singing along to Daniel Tiger or making a television-defense-attorney-caliber case for why stuffed animals don’t deserve to be dunked in the potty… It’s all just a part of the deal…

Your posts make me sad because I’m afraid you are missing the point of parenting.

Having children isn’t about you.  There, I went right out and said it.

Having children is one of life’s greatest joys not because you magically begin to like cleaning up vomit or repairing broken Lego projects.  It’s a joy because you learn how to sacrifice your own life, desires, and need for instant gratification for someone else’s happiness.  Real love is selfless…giving not taking.  Recognizing that there is a little you who is more important than YOU are… right now…

Children ARE needy, yes.  But because you love that little you, YOU do crazy things that you never even dreamed possible in your BC life.  You can stay awake consoling a baby all night long and still manage to function at some minimal level the next day.  You can zoom matchbox cars, back and forth with appropriate sound effects, in the exact way that your two-year-old dictates they be driven, for a solid half-hour (or at least until it’s time for Dinosaur Train). You can struggle to change a three-inch doll’s clothing (while despising the toy manufacturer who thought rubber clothes would be easy for a preschooler to maneuver) with some level of understanding as to the task’s importance.  After all, it only makes sense that Sleeping Beauty not wear her ball gown to bed…

These may not be the perks of parenting.   But aren’t there good parts and not-so-fun parts of every job?

I once had a career that I absolutely loved.  Managing people, raising money, meeting goals, brainstorming new projects — that got me out of bed every morning and made me excited to go to work.

But, I also had to fill out expense reports and do time sheets.  I hated expense reports and time sheets.  Who really cared what I used my corporate American Express for…?  Our accounting department disagreed with me.  Alas, I submitted them (close to) on time. Every month.

To then write about how terrible my job was because of expense reports and time sheets would have been– in two words: completely ridiculous.  I was a vice president with a corner office.  I had it good. What did I have to complain about?  Every job has benefits and burdens.  I think my readers would clearly see I was missing the big picture…

So, back to my original point…  Dear parent, why are you complaining in this way? Laughing about our own inability to handle the not-so-glamorous parts of parenting is one thing. But, making your children the offenders…I feel that’s another.

Like I said before…I totally get that you’re trying to be funny.   More to the point, I get that “funny” gets you republished on the Huffington Post or shared a zillion times on Facebook.  I know, I know, it’s fun to have that little letter “k” behind your Facebook shares number.

But, I think you’ve crossed the line this time.  And, I couldn’t let it go.  I’m sad for your children. 

I’m going to venture to say that even though your little “life-wrecker” may not yet be able to sound out your words, he may still be picking up the vibe that you are totally inconvenienced by his existence.

file000626114117Growing up I loved snow days.  I remember that feeling of anticipation…waiting to watch our school’s name scroll past at the bottom of the television news broadcast.  When the listing said “closed,” we’d jump and scream and dance around the house like we had won the lottery.  Snow days were when we made memories.  They were an excuse for us to stop and spend time together…

If my mother’s reaction had been frustration and a curse word…I can’t imagine the hurt and rejection I would have felt.

I’m all about poking fun at yourself and the ways children change youBut let’s not eat our young?  Ok?

Say that you don’t understand how it’s possible to be so crazy in love with a child who has the ability to push every one of your buttons.  Say that you never understood what challenge was until you had to feed a hungry baby, change a toddler’s blow out, fix the DVD that’s skipping parts of Cinderella and keep the dinner on the stovetop from burning all at the same time.  But, don’t say they ruin your life…don’t say that being forced to stay home one day with them is a chore…

Words (even offered in jest) hurt.  Maybe all they want from you is some hot cocoa and a blanket fort…


A mom who loves snow days


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