Sometimes being a parent feels a bit like you are a contestant on one of those crazy Japanese game shows. You know what I am talking about. You’re dressed up in white coveralls and a motorcycle helmet. In a moment you are going to be blindfolded, covered in jello and forced to run through fire while being chased by screaming leprechauns.
Just before the buzzer sounds you look around and wonder WTF made you think this would be fun. But you never quite get to think about it because the horn sounded and you are too busy trying to outrun the hordes of angry little people who are being paid to do more than pretend to be ankle biters.
If you think that sounds over the top it is because it is supposed to. Parenting is everything you ever heard all at once. It is sensory overload that is often unrelenting and at times unforgiving. You figure it out as you go. Two days before your child turns is going to turn nine you realize that you are an expert at eight. You know how to handle eight.
Congratulations. You now have two days to enjoy your role as an expert. Nine is going to be different. Nine will be like every other milestone fraught with new challenges and occasional visits from things you already know how to handle.
And for those of you who say that it must be easier the second, third, fourth time around I have this to say. God is laughing at you. He chuckles hard and reminds you that every child is different. Anne Stacey is tall, Michelle Becky is short. Anne Stacey likes salty foods and Michelle Becky hates them. Anne Stacey is good in math and Michelle Becky isn’t.
Sure, there are a few similarities but that only goes so far.
If you pay attention you’ll pick up a few tricks along the way that you can use to make life easier. You’ll figure out where you can take shortcuts and where you can’t. You’ll discover that you are a contradiction. You’ll find yourself exhibiting infinite patience for things that you never could have imagined. Things that twenty years ago would have made you insane don’t bother you for the sole reason that they entertain the children.
You’ll shake your head in amazement and wonder how something so stupid could hold their attention. But sometimes it is worth it. Those few minutes of peace and quiet are amazing. They’ll give you just enough to recharge your batteries and wade back into the fray again.
And then sometimes you’ll find that something trivial sends you right over the edge. You’ll scream and rant about something so dumb you can’t believe it. The embarrassment you feel will cause you to yell for an extra five minutes until one of those rug rats does something simple like, hugs you.
One little set of arms around your leg and you’ll forget that you were ever angry. A little voice will say “I love you” and you’ll sit there slack jawed and dumbfounded by their ability to disarm you.
Late at night you’ll take a break from blogging and go stare at those children. You’ll watch them sleep and listen to them breathe. You’ll stare and wonder how you could have helped to create something so perfect and wonder how you can ever live up to the promise their sleeping bodies speak of.
Silent promises are made to them. Wishes and prayers that you don’t screw up and fail them somehow. You don’t really think that will happen, but you are superstitious so you are careful. And as you listen to the soft snores you wonder how you can capture these thoughts and feelings forever.
So you try not to scream as you step on a Lego and bang into the wall. In just a moment you’ll be back at the computer. You’ll bang out a quick post, click on publish and then get back to work. Those sleeping kids need you and you can’t rest now, there will be time for that another day.