It's time for me to lay down some wisdom once again.
Parenting is hard.
You had no idea of that, I'm sure. It's something you start to hear when you're a kid - usually in the way of, "Wait until you have children!" or "I hope you have three just like you!" etc. At the time you think, "Hell yeah, I'm awesome!" but then you actually have three just like you and all you want to do is apologize for just how "awesome" you were.
Or when you get pregnant for the first time and mixed in with the excitement you see in peoples eyes you see that flash of pity and warning that you try to ignore and chalk up to your own insecurities. Oh no, it wasn't you. It was really there. They were trying to tell you that while this is going to be the most amazing thing you ever do, it's also going to be the hardest.
Then the baby comes all squish and pink and soft and warm.. Oh holy mother, be still my aching ovaries, let's just pop out 20 more of these right fucking now!! If you had your baby in the hospital, it's kind of comforting knowing there is a designated army of nurses, doctors, and other personnel nearby to assist you. Not having a clue what you're doing but knowing that all of these folks do makes you feel like you can do this. But then .. then they start doing things you know you didn't want to do. Like trying to stick a binky in their mouth. What the bloody hell are you doing?! Get that out of my kids face!! Or trying to get you to pop a bottle into their mouth because you're not quite sure what the hell you're doing with your breasts, but you know this is what they're literally made to do. BACK OFF! I'VE GOT THIS! I think. Maybe. Perhaps. Oh God, what am I doing? I'm going to starve my kid at this rate!! -- Wait! I thought I was going to get to bathe the baby! Shit!! I don't know how to bathe a baby!! -- What do you mean the diaper doesn't go on like this? It's covering the parts it's supposed to cover, isn't it? -- How do I put this shirt on her without breaking the tiny little bones she has growing inside of her? -- Baby mittens.. To keep her from gouging her skin off her beautiful face.. Right.. Here, I'll trim her nails. OH.DEAR.GOD.I.CLIPPED.HER.SKIN. Go ahead, lock me away, I've officially become the world's worst mother. I'm NEVER clipping her nails again!
Do you see how rough even the first 24 hours is? It's a wonder anyone continues having kids after that. But we do. Some of us. Some of us are content with one, and to that, I say, more power to ya! No matter how big or small your family is, it's not going to be "easy".
So then they actually send them home with you. Like, no test, no review, nothing. Just, ok, you made it, you keep it. And besides the fact that your hormones are bouncing around like styrofoam balls in a wind tunnel and you're already sleep deprived from the last few months of pregnancy and the night of nurses coming to check on you every few hours, you think, "What a great idea! Let's go home!" But then, if you're anything like me, you get home and panic starts to set it. You start thinking, whoa, I'm not babysitting this kid. This kid is here. Forever. Or at least until she wastes away because I can't figure out how to nurse her. Or I accidentally drown her in the bathtub because I have no clue what I'm doing. Wait, how necessary are baths, do you think? Speaking of baths, I need one. What do I do with her while I take a shower?
Man .. it's just endless, I'm telling you.
But then, then they start growing up. They have their moments of absolute amazement of course. Like when they roll over for the first time (and if you're lucky you knew better than to keep them on a bed or other high surface so when this feat is accomplished they don't roll OFF of something), or when they sit up, say their first word, hold things in their hands and don't instantly smack themselves in the face.. Then a little later with the bigger things. Walking, speaking in full sentences, using crayons, pulling on/off their own clothes. All of these things that you wait for, you long for, you stress to the high heavens about because you just know she should have done this by last Tuesday and she hasn't yet so clearly something is wrong with her. Or she's doing that months before any of the other babies her age so clearly, she's a genius. Duh. Like that was in question. Come on, have you met me?
But amidst the amazing there are struggles. Like the stressing over the milestones. The time your baby feels warm and you watch the thermometer creep up, up, up. Passing 96, 99, 100, 101. Trying to figure out what to do when that thermometer finally alerts you to the fact that your baby has a fever. A fever!! Somehow, my baby is sick. Oh lord, if you make her better I promise I will never again.. (begin to bargain). If you're lucky, you can call your mom or dad in the middle of the night dissolved in tears about this fever. They'll walk you through giving them a luke warm bath to help regulate their body temperature, they'll know the correct dosage or where you should look to find it, for giving them infants Tylenol or Motrin, they'll tell you that you are doing fine and your baby will be fine and you will all get through this. You aren't going to believe them. Clearly you did something wrong if your baby has contracted ebola or whatever godforsaken disease they have that is causing this fever and screaming.
Or the time your toddler does actually fall off of the bed, couch, table that they've somehow managed to scale while you looked away for .09 seconds. Or they smash their fingers in a drawer or a door. Or they "hide" their toys in the oven, the trash can, or the cats litter box.
And the sticking of everything in their mouth - Oh come on!! You're a genius remember? You know not to eat kitty litter!! You know not to try and suck on the tube of butt cream! You're a genius!
And the older they get, the more fun they get, I think. They start carrying on conversations with you. Not very deep or intellectually stimulating conversations, but conversations nevertheless. They begin to discover and learn and absorb more and more about their surroundings. They begin to count, to say their ABCs, learn to write these things down. It's really just all so very incredible.
But at the same time as they're doing this, they learned, somewhere, somehow, inexplicably, to lie. They tell their first lie and it's so obvious to you that they're lying that you can't help but stare at them in wonder. Did you really just expect to get away with that? Did you really just say that? You did, didn't you? Well.. shit. Now what? What do I do? Call them out on it? Try to trap them in it? If you're religious, play the "God knows the truth" card? Ohhh what do I do?!
If they have siblings, it's a whole new ballgame of crazy. The fighting and bickering and arguing about EVERYTHING starts pretty early on. Sibling jealous is definitely a thing. Sibling rivalry is so much more than just "I want that toy, no I had it first, no I did!" But, that's another day.
They eventually get old enough to start showing interest in relationships. Or what they perceive them to be. They think they're in love, they think the world revolves around this person. They get their hearts broken. They have a falling out with their best friend. They try to hide things from you. They want their privacy. It just goes on and on. They grow up. They grow up and while they always need you, they also need their space. They need to grow and learn life lessons without you holding their hand or holding them in your arms while you call your dad at 2am asking what you should do.
My oldest is about to turn 13 and I'm told that the teen years are going to be, by far, the hardest. If they've been anything like the tween years, I believe it. There are some days that we can't even be in the same room with each other for very long. But then, there are also days, that we laugh more and get along better than I have since I was her age and was laughing with my best friend. These are the days that get me through the hard, difficult days.
I don't know how we're going to get through the teen years. But, I know it's going to be hard. If anything, the rest has proven that. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's going to be hard.
But it's also going to be amazing and totally worth it.