As a non-parent, I really wondered what the hubbub was all about. I always asked (in my head): “Why the complaining? Why the long faces? I mean, how hard can it really be?”
And then I had kids.
And then I apologized to all my friends and family who I may have been less than supportive to. My two tiny human have humbled me beyond belief and made me realize I was such a fool.
To help you understand why we (parents) complain so much and so very easily get on a parenting rant, I’ve created a very easy-to-navigate pie chart (do not say ANYTHING about the image quality…I know, it’s incredible) that outlines a somewhat typical day-in-the-life of a parent just trying to survive.
Figure 1: Parenting 101
Let me elaborate on a few headings…
Preparing a meal my toddler won’t eat and…breastfeeding baby: This is fairly self-explanatory, but the dots in the pie chart may have left you hanging (or perhaps they didn’t and you don’t really care). Breastfeeding obviously comprises the lion’s share of this section, but I cannot express the level of frustration when you prepare a healthy meal only to have your delightful toddler say “no, I don’t like it” when she ate it…YESTERDAY.
I have recently devised new strategies to entice her eating that do not include bribery (OK sometimes I do commit the cardinal sin when it comes to food and bribe my child…who doesn’t?). She helps me “cook” her meal which seems to seriously float her boat and get her excited about eating. And yet, even that sometimes fails (see “Ripping out hair” section).
Covert eating: Ever hidden your face in a cabinet to eat Cheetos? No? Come on. What about passing TimBits on the sly (or the “low swoop” as my friend calls it) with your husband as you drive your kids to music? This is what we call covert eating; eating in such a manner that your child will not see and thus, will not ask you to share. Yes, I know, we are exemplar parents who are teaching our children very valuable lessons about sharing and how to eat well. Covert eating is a necessary component to sanity because who wants to share their Cheetos or TimBits (not I, thank you very much).
Wiping a**: Pretty self-explanatory; however, let’s take a moment to explore. I mean, who doesn’t like to take a deep dive into baby and toddler poop (perhaps the deep dive corporate reference is inappropriate here?). Most parents inspect and obsess over their baby’s poop to ensure it’s “normal” (no joke). We send texts about it and look up pictures on the internet. This is a thing. Accept it. It also usually occurs at inopportune times like when you’re trying to leave the house. It may result in serious blowout situations, often referred to as a poopnami. And it may cause you to question your life choices. For example: “why did I concede on that extra handful of raisins?” or “perhaps 50 grapes is simply too many?”
Swearing / screaming into a pillow: Another critical aspect to maintaining sanity as a parent (well, for me at least and a few other moms I know) is pillow screaming. Every once and a while, it all gets to be just a little much and thus, a pillow is required. Perhaps your baby won’t sleep for their fourth GD nap of the day and you can’t bear to insert the soother again. Perhaps your toddler refuses to eat anything other than grapes (see note above about “Wiping a**”). Perhaps you cannot stand to hear your toddler grunt, “I’m stucccckkkkkk” for the 20th time during a five-minute car ride as she tries to escape her carseat. Trust me, pillows are your friends. I also often resort to singing in situations where a pillow isn’t handy. You may appear crazy, but I imagine, much like me, you don’t give a flying you know what about whether some stranger thinks you’ve lost it.
Ripping hair out: Very similar to the above action, but differs slightly in that you become more bald as opposed to more hoarse. Ripping hair out often comes after you ask your toddler to stop banging the stove, fridge, floor or any surface or object for the 20th time in a row. It may also occur after being bitten (a new and very fun fad at our house) or kicked or hit (toddler violence is real).
It may also occur after any of the following: being awoken for the fourth time in the night to insert the soother, being awoken at night to calm a nightmare, being awoken in the morning by your husband bringing in your toddler so that she can lay with you…and the baby…oh yes, that’s exactly what I wanted after 2 hours of sleep. Basically being awoken at any time may result in additional hair loss (I mean you’re already going bald from hormones, lack of sleep, and eating all things listed as no-nos in Canada’s food guide) so what’s a few more strands?
Texting ETA message to your spouse for the 100th time: A classic. Who hasn’t sent a frantic text to their spouse asking when they plan to grace us with their presence? And spouses beware, you better not be a minute later than said ETA. If you are, prepare to be greeted by a bridge troll who hasn’t fed in a long time.
Enjoying public washroom use…at home: Who doesn’t like an audience when they “enjoy” a private moment? Who doesn’t like to have the toilet contents closely inspected while you’re still seated? Who doesn’t like having a shower with their toddler who is crying because the water is “in (her) eyeeeesssssss” (even though they begged / cried to join you in the shower). Relaxation city awaits.
Managing tantrums. These delightful moments lurk in the deep recesses, waiting for the most inopportune moment to spring forth. Whether at a friend’s house for dinner and your daughter menacingly threatens to hit you with her water bottle (I told you, toddler violence is real) or at music class or Ikea, a tantrum awaits you.
And when it happens, you will feel…bad. You will feel so bad and mad and ragey (yes, that’s a word) that you’ll do anything to make it stop. Then you’ll come home and read about how to handle tantrums and realize you did it all wrong…and then you’ll do it all wrong again the next time, even though you “know better”. I’ve been told this phase will pass…in a few years. I’m waiting, fuzzy peaches and wine in hand, for that to happen.
Stepping on a GD piece of Lego. This is a blanket statement for stepping on all toys. Tripping over toys is its own category: Tripping over daughter’s stroller for the 5th time. Each are deserving of their own slice of the pie as they both cause varying levels of frustration. The stepping on elicits pain and many questions: “why did I buy you that farm set?” and “why do toy makers make doll-sized cups of hot chocolate?” and “why the f*** are these blocks out again? I just put them away.”
Tripping on the other hand, doesn’t elicit pain, it scares you. You’re scared because you didn’t see the stroller. Scared because you forgot about it being in the same spot for the 5th time. Scared because you’re holding your baby. Scared because you feel like you’re always in the dark. Scared about your eyesight. And then it makes you mad. Mostly at yourself for not moving the hazard the first time.
Parenting tests your mettle. It makes you gritty. It forces you to be better. It’s also the best job in the world because the payout is huge – hugs, kisses and “I love yous” from your favourite people on the planet.
That’s right, it ain’t all bad (even though the pie chart begs to differ). What the pie chart doesn’t capture is the love because that sh** is happening 24/7 (even when you scream into pillows or whip a container of mints down the stairs…yes, I’ve done this). I know there are many out there who don’t get to have kids, even though they desperately want them; this breaks my heart. So I don’t want to end this post without acknowledging the fact that being a parent, even though desperately hard at times, is wonderful (and pretty darn funny).
Thank you to my momma friends who helped to fill in the gaps and give me some fun headings. You are my rocks.
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