We had friends over on Friday night. The kind that doesn’t have kids but is about to (as in she is pregnant). Our kid is still recovering from sugery, and we wanted to avoid a meltdown at all costs (that is either a rationalization, justification, or genuine explanation – I am not sure which). We now have the perfect storm – a young couple now thinking a lot about parenting, and a family who is about to display example after example of poor parenting.
I could practically hear “We’ll never do that with our kids” screaming in their heads.
I know this because I would have thought the same thing before I had kids.
You are always the best parent before you have kids.
Once you have them it is amazing what you’ll do out of exhaustion, love and sheer wimpiness. The children – they are a formidable foe. They come to you cute and precious and they get cuter, pudgy and more precious. And they cry. And they cry. And there are days when you will do anything to make the crying stop. And there are days when you or the kid or both will be so close to a complete breakdown that some of your hard and fast rules are bent, broken or obliterated. And some days the rules are bent or broken for other reasons – because they were made to be.
And, ultimately, you will find that most situations are not as cut and dry as you perceive before the little goobers appear on the scene. Before kids (BK) you will not conceive of a situation where you will allow (or even offer) cookies for breakfast, after kids (AK), it happens. BK you are sure that you will be nothing but consistent on bedtime, snacktime and all the other ‘times’; AK you’ll find your 3-year-old up after 10pm, and feed her popsicle after popsicle (i.e. our Friday night). BK your kid is going to be polite, clean, and quiet; AK you will constantly be on edge in public working to keep the kid from climbing on tables, keep her face, hands, hair, clothes and nose clean, and keep them from screaming and carrying on at a decibel that attracts the attention of anyone in a 5K radius.
We like discipline, structure and orderliness. Children bring in the opposite and challenge our every notion of parenting.
Or, maybe, it’s just us, and our friends will find parenting a breeze and do everything right – just as they intended. Sigh. I should say, our “former friends”.