Expecting belly buttons and receiving rat tails
There are many things that people do not tell you before you become a parent. They might tell you the first few lines of the story, but they leave out the protagonist and subplot entirely. I, however, believe in telling full truths when I tell stories, so I will spare you no details. For example, you may hear that when you have a baby their umbilical cord will fall off. What you don’t hear is that this cord will shrivel up and rot on their body. Every time you go to change their diaper you will scream in terror because you are certain there is a dead rat’s tail decaying on their stomach. It will stink. it will pus. It will carry on like this until one day you notice the tail is missing. It has broken off and beneath it lies the beginning of a normal belly button. You will rejoice in the beauty of its absence until you go to bed and realize you have been wearing the stub of decayed flesh on your shirt all day long. You will instinctively rip the cord from the fibers of your sweater and immediately flush it down the toilet. Because it is the only sane thing to do. I know as your mother it is my job to love every part of you, but I REALLY didn’t like those belly button tails.
The biggest thing that people don’t tell you about being a parent is that children ruin everything. Now, when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.
Children will find a way to devastate every celebration, every special occasion, and every outing that you can imagine. Do you need some proof?
Halloween is supposed to be one of the most kid centric holidays in the United States. But here is what our Halloweens look like at our house. Every year.
Swimming lessons sound fun to you? Try to get this face to swim.
Maybe your children will enjoy outdoor sports more?
Until it is time to go and then they feel like this:
Camping is the all time family activity, right?
Maybe they are just indoor people, and you should try dancing instead:
You’ll want to stop going places because they ruin everything, so you might opt to have friends come over instead. Except your house looks like this because your kids ruined it.
Starting to understand my use of the word “everything”?
Last weekend we piled you girls plus Robie into the car so we could drive for 1.5 hours to a cabin for the night so you could:
-Fight the entire way there
-Pee your pants while trying to squat outside
-Scream about not getting the bunk you wanted
-Fight the entire time there
-Run on the ice after I told you not to and split your chin open
-Cry about losing at checkers
-Throw a fit while snowshoeing and refuse to keep walking
-Fight all the way back
I think the absolute hardest part of parenting is overcoming the expectations that come along with parenthood. I don’t know if it is nostalgia over my own childhood (combined with selective memory), too many hallmark commercials, or a very limited exposure to small children before I had two of my own, but I really thought parenting was going to be a lot of fun. I’ve had to deal with that expectation, and the disappointment of the reality quite often.
I guess this is the part where I have to act like a good parent and say some parts of parenting are fun, rewarding, and even blissful. And sure, there are a few of those moments. That is why we keep doing it. If it weren’t for those seldom moments you would be in a lot of trouble and you would have to learn how to cook really fast. Even with those moments, as significant as they are, you will still find a way to ruin the day by the time the sun sets.
I’m battling my own disappointment at the moment over misguided expectations. I expected because I’m a fairly active person that my body would remain in a decent condition and I could choose the type of lifestyle I had. If I wanted to train for a half marathon (which I don’t want to ever do again) I could. If I wanted to try backpacking, I could. And suddenly I can’t. I feel like nobody told me about this part. I feel like I was robbed of something I felt entitled to, much like the illusion of parenting.
The thing that has helped me the most with parenting is to lose the expectations. To stop thinking that I’m going to have these great experiences and to realize that you’re going to pee your pants at the worst time no matter what holiday or occasion it is. Once I stopped having these expectations of parenting I stared enjoying it a lot more. It still has just as many challenges and obstacles but I don’t face that constant let down feeling. Instead, I feel that much more fortunate when we have those moments where giggling and glee collide.
I’m trying to teach myself a moral with this over wordy story, girls. I’m trying to convince myself that I need to lose the expectations of what my life is supposed to be like right now, and accept it for what it is in this moment. Even if that isn’t what I want it to always be. Because if I do, maybe I’ll be that much happier when things go right. Even if that happiness is actually caused by Vicodin. (There will definitely be some giggling and glee then!) And who knows, maybe the surgeon will rip off the “dead rat’s tail” that is my knee right now, and find a perfect belly button underneath it. I hope so. Or I’m flushing all of it down the toilet.
P.S. These are the outfits I want you to wear when I’m experiencing my Vicodin happiness.