I like to think of myself as fun and relaxed, as brave with a touch of crazy. I’m the one who loves to laugh and awkwardly dance in public, the one who jumped off the cliff first and who shaved her head because she felt like it. I’m the one who traveled across the world alone.
So naturally, I thought I was going to be a really fun parent. A free spirit, spontaneous and unconcerned with dirt or danger. I’d probably raise kids who were sponsored by Red Bull they’d be so fearless and capable.
When traveling it’s easy to focus on the adventures we will have and the things we will see. I dream about the glow worm caves in New Zealand, I envision long hikes up peaks with stunning 360 degree views. I picture the togetherness we will feel around late night campfires.
Also…in those dreams no one has a bad attitude or a headache and someone is playing classical guitar in the background. NBD.
As I’ve travelled with kids I have found, that the adventure is great…but only if we take care of a few basic things first.
In our single years, we trekked across the world unrestrained. We didn’t hold sleeping babies until our arms cramped up. We didn’t weather a toddler’s tantrum while one of us was pulled aside by the TSA for inspection. People didn’t glance at us getting on the plane trying to hide their fear that our seats would be close by. We didn’t fill our pockets with Juicy Fruit gum, or collapse a stroller at the gate.
1. They don’t share. AT ALL. You are pretty sure that you will be working on this until they are in their seventies. The main problem is that the other kids give them WHATEVER they want, WHENEVER they want. When you ask them why, they say things like, “She screamed so I gave it to her.”
You are really excited for their future parent-teacher conferences.
2. DRAMA. That noise that sounds like they’re being de-limbed in the back bedroom? That is the noise the youngest makes when their sock is “bothering them”.
I was going to be the Dr. Oz of parenting. I was going to be a guru, and then I realized that I would probably have to teach my kids to stop acting like wild raccoons at the grocery store. I don’t want to be negative but my kids are 10, 8,6, and 3. This is never going to happen for me.
You are not going to get advice from me on teaching toddlers to read, or getting your kids to stop gagging on their vegetables. I could however offer a step-by-step guide to watching them chew on the same vegetable for two hours, until you eventually give up and let them spit it out.
I am not very perfect at parenting, but I do love my kids enough to cuddle with them while they smell like pee, and I feel like that’s kind of a lot.
Look into my eyes and let me tell you, there are no limits.
When I was young, I felt small in a large world. I was desperate to belong, so I tried to fit in. I tried to reduce myself to a puzzle piece in a giant picture. I tried to have straight edges and to not take up too much room.
The problem is I wasn’t made to fit. I was meant to live large and free and uninhibited. We all were. It took me a long time to realize that; it took me a long time to set myself free.
I hope that isn’t the same for you, dear one. I hope you burn fierce, burn loud, burn wild, burn bright. I hope you’re unapologetic about the fire that’s inside you.
I have raised four threenagers. The first one was a kleptomaniac. The second one was a nudist with a rage problem. The third one was a tiny dictator. The fourth one is not out of the woods yet.
When I discovered my first one had a problem with stuffing his backpack with other people’s baby monitors and sound machines, I realized that I had failed as a mother. First step Sophie the Giraffe…next step diamond heist. I was plagued with visions of visiting him in his orange prison uniform.
Turns out being three is not permanent. I don’t usually find iphones and name brand sneakers in my nine-year-old’s backpack. So, hang in there parents.
I sat across from you today. You are struggling, you are tired.
As looked into her eyes I recognized the exhaustion and the fear. I recognized the question, the one that asks am I going to be okay? I remembered a dark season in my life. I remembered when I was so undone with anxiety that I couldn’t take the kids to the beach or even make it out of the house.
I remembered when I had no hope.
I remembered a friend who showed up every single day on my doorstep. She’d ask, “What are you afraid of today?” I’d tell her and she’d listen. She’d really listen…that was the gift. When I’d run all out of words I would sit shaking on my porch trying to feel the sun that beat down all around me, but never touched my skin.
I have recently gone back to work part time. This is mostly because I plan on giving my kids a sub-par childhood.
So far everyone is suffering and wearing weird clothes to school, because I’m not there to control their fashion decisions. My kindergartner wore pink leggings and cutoff jean shorts to her school Christmas program. I snuck in a few minutes late from work and scanned the kids on stage. When my eyes fell on Oaklee, I burst out laughing. There she was, surrounded by red and white dresses and tiny bow ties. My husband waited in great anticipation for my reaction. Our eyes met when I slid into the seat next to him. He grinned and nodded proudly. “Yeah I did…” he whispered, giving me a big wink.
I fired the tooth fairy.
I am all done moonlighting as an ivory collector.
It was the fifth time the, “tooth fairy must have been so busy she forgot!” while my husband and I mouthed obscenities to each other over their heads, HOW COULD WE LET THIS HAPPEN AGAIN???! My son sat me down and gently asked, “Mom, are you the tooth fairy?”
I just couldn’t handle the pressure anymore. I caved. Read More