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Pink Feathers

Parenting Should Come With a Warning Label

When I was pregnant with my first baby I didn’t know what to expect. When I told my mother I was expecting she said, “Oh, no.” I was surprised by this reaction, but she explained to me that parenting was a lot, and she was concerned for me. I would have liked more of an explanation but that’s all she said. Whenever women wanted to talk about their experiences they only wanted to revisit labor and delivery and then they said cryptic things like, “Your life will change forever.” And “I hope you have help.”

I was terrified when my daughter was born. I remember thinking I was pretty sure I was going to mess this up. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t want to hurt her. My parents came to stay for a week and when they left I cried. The next day, I begged my husband not to leave me alone as he went to work. I soon discovered some of the perils of parenting.

  • There are massive amounts of poop. I never thought a human could produce so much of it. You need to become a proficient poop cleaner, and you need to be prepared for the inevitable diaper blowout that will only occur in an inconvenient awkward spot like a fancy restaurant. It will also help if your mother-in-law gives you the stank eye as if she is telling you that this would never have happened with her children.

  • It is critical that you do not leave the house unless you are sure the children are well rested and fed otherwise you are bound to watch a full-on tantrum in the middle of a public place while people look at you as if they might call family services. It would help if you had snacks for yourself too but forget about being well-rested. The advice about sleeping when they sleep is unrealistic.

  • Understand that parenting is forever. I am always surprised when I hear someone say, “Once she is 18 I won’t have to do this anymore.” Um, sometimes parenting an older child is more complicated than when she was a toddler.

  • Parenting will test your mind skills because you are going to have to play head games. If you want them to make a certain choice when they are older you have to convince them that they made the choice not you.

  • Your heart will be stepped on repeatedly, but you need to remember that they need you and love you even when they don’t always show it well. Keep showing up for them with unconditional love, but don’t enable them.

  • Once you have children you realize how much your parents worried about you. I pray for my children every day and when my youngest leaves every morning she says, “Momma, pray for me!” and I answer, “Every day!”

  • There are moments when you feel like a failure and others when you feel like you are killing it. What works one day might not work the next, but all you can do is do your best and apologize when you are wrong. Love your children with everything you have.

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