Parenthood is one of the most fulfilling things a person could ever experience. You bring a human being into the world, shelter them, take care of them, shape the people they are going to be, and be a huge influence in the way they experience the world around them.
However, parenthood is not all fine and dandy all the time.
Your parents, who have gone through the whole shebang with you, will tell you that sleepless nights will be inevitable, and that raising kids will cost a small fortune at the very least. Yet everybody says that it will be worth it, that there is no joy in the world like looking into your child’s eyes and seeing the unconditional love you offer reflected back to you.
Some sales pitch that was!
For some strange reason, everybody forgets about the hard time they had raising their kids whenever they talk about parenthood with other people. Our parents especially! Urging us to procreate for their own selfish dreams of playing grandma and grandpa to the little monsters who will be your future children; okay maybe they’re not monsters.
Whatever, they totally are, just a little bit. I wish I had come in more prepared to be a parent but there is no amount of research or practice that can prepare you to deal with a mini version of the rascal you used to be growing up. Still, I wish somebody had taken pity on the fool that I was, thinking I could handle raising an actual person, and given me a heads up on the events to come.
Since I would like to think I am a nice enough person, here are some of the things nobody told me about parenthood that you, if you can, should prepare for. You have been forewarned.
BEING A PARENT IS A FULL-TIME JOB
Going into parenthood, none of us will really look at parenting as a job. We will (naively!) think that we can separate our work lives and parenthood.
But one of the things that nobody tells you about parenthood is that as a parent you are basically on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Those crazy hours surgeons have? – They ain’t got nothin’ on you.
Just when you think you have gotten off from work, one of your kids will suddenly need something for school the next day and you will again find yourself rushing to the nearest store to find whatever god-awful thing they will need you to pick up, but didn’t tell you about this morning when you were carpooling them to school.
Morning, noon and night, somebody will need something from you and you will have to give in because they’re your children, and you really do love them.
The worst part, this is not even a job you can resign from. Great.
YOU WILL BECOME A MOBILE ATM
No, ATM does not stand for a cutesy nickname your children will give you out of appreciation for all the sleepless nights you endured for them. ATM will mean whatever it usually means in the real world, an Automated Teller Machine. Your kids will be asking you to cough up cash to buy all sorts of things, that even you will start wondering if you really do dispense cash at the push of a button.
You will hear these sentences “Daaaaaad, can you buy me (insert silly little toy that your child will be bored of in approximately two weeks)?” and “Mooom, moooooom, pleeeaaase, mooooom” more often than you would like and more often than you thought possible.
The concept of money and finances does not occur naturally to your children, it probably didn’t occur naturally to you either, but hey, adulthood happens. This is why they won’t understand that you can be strapped for cash sometimes or just don’t think a purchase is worth it in the long run. Try and try as you might to explain to them why it’s impractical to buy the flimsy little toy that has one too many choking hazards for your liking, all your child will hear is “Not right now, try asking me again in about another second”.
Don’t lose hope though, taking the time to educate your children about the importance of handling finances will probably make them more equipped at handling their own financial concerns in the future. Or so I’ve heard.
YOU WILL THINK YOUR CHILDREN ARE THE WORST AND THAT’S OKAY
Let me just give it to your straight:
That bit about unconditional love and how you will naturally fall into the role of a loving parent all day and every day is just a myth. That’s right, I said it. You will not be in the mood to be loving to your children all the time and that is alright.
Honestly, do you remember how much of a doo-doo head you were as a child? Well, your children are going to be twice as difficult as you were and you will run out of patience and snap at them. It happens, we move on. You, for the most part anyway, are not a bad parent.
I remember finally understanding my parents and really knowing their personalities when I was in my mid-twenties and I remember realizing that my parents are people too. They both have their own personality quirks and their own hang ups and they probably could’ve done a better job. But you know what – they tried their best and loved me the best way they knew how, even if it was indeed imperfect.
It’s going to be the same with us and our children.
We’re going to come into this relationship as parent and child, not really knowing what the hell we are doing. Our long standing issues with ourselves, which have nothing to do with our children, can sometimes get in the way of being loving, but just like me, our children will grow up and realize how much their nutty and imperfect parents tried their best to raise them in a home that made them feel safe and loved.
This makes it easy for me to believe that although I am imperfect I will be an alright parent. Or, what I tell myself at night when I’ve had a really bad day as an adult. Whatever works for you.