Wednesday, February 17, 2010

No one ever told me about how much parenthood can blow.

I love being a mom. Really. The thought of being a childless me is seriously difficult. Not only because I love my two kids passionately, but also, because I think I was designed by God to be a great mom. I've gone through years of college and graduate school classes on child psychology, development, education, and all that. I've helped raise the children of two families while being their nanny, and helped hundreds of other families though my work as a child care teacher and early childhood public school teacher. (Which also means I've made a thousand and more mistakes on other people's kids before I had my own... thanks for that chance!)
So really, if anyone out there would have a good understanding of what being a parent would probably be like, I would think that person would be me.
But then, my husband and I had our children. We began to understand all those references to the idea of not having the energy for even a quickie. How the thought of going out together can seem a lofty goal, filled with the endless task of securing safe and fun people to take care of the kids while we were out, while balancing the limited budget available to pay for that care AND provide some sort of recreational activity for ourselves.
So I read a lot of books while I'm here at home. Not to the detriment of my little peoples, but during my down times at night, I read.
I found an amazing book, "Sleep is for the Weak" edited by Rita Arens. A compilation of the best work from a bunch of great mommy bloggers, the book shines a light on what REALLY happens to you when you become a mother. (Love and kisses and long, reliable bouts of sleep deprivation included.)

I wanted to share a favorite segment written by Rita Arens. Found as an intro to chapter 9, it's called, "Personal Growth Blows." How true. Here it is, I hope you like it too.
"When my daughter was born, my father-in-law, patriarch of eight children, told me, 'The hardest part about being a parent is having to give up what you really want to do.' I thought he meant going to bars, staying up late, and eating cereal for dinner.
As my daughter got older, I realized what he meant was bigger than that. He meant having to give up, put off, or squeeze into the wee hours my writing. He meant having to take jobs that could provide health insurance. He meant choosing between private school and staying in our beautiful, old house in the city or living in the suburbs with a great, free school district. He meant missing the fireworks on the Fourth of July because the baby was sleeping. He meant not having time to work on my marriage right when it needed the work.
He meant learning to use my free time for things that needed to be done, not things I wanted to do.
I didn't get pregnant until I was twenty-nine. I know many women, some of them contributors to this book, who are having babies well into their late thirties and beyond. We spent years indulging our own preferences only to have to learn in the course of twenty-four hours, some of which may have been spent screaming in pain, how to put another human being's needs and development first. I'm not going to lie to you, it's hard. Really hard.
There is a bright side, though - growth. Becoming a parent teaches you who you are and helps you to correct character flaws you didn't even realize you had. Teaching a little person how the world works inserts "please" back into your language, forces you to call your mother more often, and insists you confront personal demons before they are passed along. Personal growth hurts, but you emerge a better human being."

So true, so well written. Thanks for letting me share.

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