You don’t know what you don’t know when you become a parent. Here are a few doozies that still catch me off guard.
Table manners matter. I’m not sure when this happened, but I became a stickler for table manners. Of course, toddlers don’t have table manners. More accurately, my toddlers actually own manners, they are just constantly misplacing theirs. My oldest is 5, and she absolutely loves being loud, making funny noises, hiding under the table and getting her younger sister to misbehave along with her. I wish I could be the carefree mom that laughs and sings at the table savoring every moment with my young children, but after getting everyone to a hot meal, I just want to enjoy it in relative peace. Not complete silence, just peace. Call me crazy.
No respect. It amazes me that Rodney Dangerfield, who is absolutely a man, made a career of the phrase, “I get no respect.” In fact, it is mothers who get no respect. It’s become a running joke in my family, and it happens all the time. I shop for dinner, plan dinner, and prepare dinner, but hand it off to my husband to grill, and the girls say, “Thank you for a great dinner, Daddy.” For our recent trip to Hershey Park, I clear the dates, book the hotel, and buy the tickets, but my husband drives the car, and the girls say, “Thanks for taking us to Hershey, Daddy.” I shop for clothes, launder them, and get the girls dressed, and the girls run to daddy to hear his obligatory praises of, “Oh, how pretty!” I knew this would happen, of course, because I under-appreciated my own mom. Serves me right.
Guilt. I am sometimes ashamed and terrified of my perfect children. As I befriend mothers who are raising children who are allergic, fragile, disabled, or tragically taken too soon, I am struck by guilt that I don’t actually worship my perfectly healthy children. When they have a meltdown in the store or smack each other, I admit to sometimes losing my cool. No, I’ve been too busy rearing them and setting boundaries to smother them in kisses several times a day, which is exactly what I should be doing. Which is exactly what my friends would do if their child were suddenly cured, restored, returned to them. In the same breath, I am terrified that something terrible will happen in the next moment to my perfect children. Would I be as graceful as these women I have come to admire? There’s no way of knowing until I am tested, which I pray I won’t be. More guilt.
I love working. Not that this one is a complete surprise. I’m just grateful to be able to design a life where I can enjoy my kids and enjoy a fulfilling creative outlet that produces and income. Especially when my kids drive me crazy, I still have this professional side of me up and running, and it is worth all of the energy that it takes to keep both sides of my life running at the same time. Frankly, some days I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my awesome business. Yes, I love working, and I love working for myself even more. Judge me if you want, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone on this one.
I’m sure there are more. But they’ll have to wait for a refill on chocolate and coffee, which I swore I would never use as crutches to get through my day. Never say never.