Returning to my #PayItForward series after a long break for the holidays, with a writer whose blog I've been enjoying for quite a while. Molly, who calls her blog Crazed in the Kitchen, is a stay-at-mom of two with a third on the way. She is the whole package: funny, sincere, and will tug at your heartstrings when she wants to. Recently, we were talking about the annoying things non-parents say, and it inspired this post from her.
I USED TO BE THE BEST MOM
I used to be the best mom. I’m not kidding—I was the BEST. I knew how to quiet a crying infant, how to get a toddler to sleep through the night, how to teach a preschooler to behave in a restaurant. As I walked through the mall, the grocery store, or the doctor’s office, I watched the poor, unskilled parents I saw and thought about how lucky I was to be such a great parent. I judged parents who were trying to wrangle tantruming toddlers or unruly school-aged kids. I gave out dirty looks like Oprah hands out new cars to those selfish, lazy parents who couldn’t be bothered to raise their kids right.
But then, something happened that shook my rock-solid parenting self-confidence to the core. My perfect parenting skills slipped, I started losing control, I….
I had kids.
As I stared at my wailing newborn at 2 am on our first night home from the hospital, I realized with a sinking feeling that I actually knew nothing about raising kids. But, I thought to myself, how could this be true? I had 15 years of babysitting under my belt, and I had read pretty much every baby care book published! I was an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER, for crying out loud, and I watched Supernanny religiously! Those things made me a freaking expert on kids, right? RIGHT???
Unfortunately, there truly is no way to understand parenthood other than by having a kid. And, there really is no way to know for sure what kind of parent you will be until you’re doing it. If you had described Attachment Parenting to me before my first son was born, I would have nodded politely while screaming in my head, “GET A BACKBONE!” Now that I have kids, I’m mostly a believer. Before I had kids, I thought for sure that I would embrace being a working mother. Now, I’m on my third year of child care leave and loving being a stay-at-home mom.
It turns out parenting is just like any other job. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about waiting tables or performing brain surgery: You can Google it, watch videos, read books, but you can’t truly understand it until you do it. Parenting is no different—except that many, many, MANY people who have never done it seem to think they know just how it should be done.
|Yeah this might actually be nurture after all.|
So, to all the non-parents out there, I ask you to give us parents the benefit of the doubt. Please understand that the mother of three ahead of you in line at Target probably did not teach her 3-year-old to chant, “Vagina! Vagina! Beautiful vagina!” at top volume. Yes, she can encourage him to use more appropriate language or she can punish him if he refuses to stop. But the wonderful and awful thing about kids is that only they are truly in control of their voices and bodies. They often make good choices about how to act, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they choose mayhem. How you react to their behavior says loads more about you as a parent than how they behave.
Mostly, my childless friends, I ask you to remember what I once overheard another parent say: “The only perfect parents are the ones who have not yet had kids. And the only perfect kids are the ones who have not yet been born.”