An Ode to Parents
They say the time goes so fast. “Don’t wish it away,” they say,“You’ll blink and those same babies will be graduating.”
Oh the rhetoric! But where does that leave you day to day? You’re the one living it. You’re in the five year grind – the trenches. You’re exhausted and disconnected and you live on sandwich crusts and adrenaline from the latest tantrum. You, dearest parents, do not have the kind of perspective to enjoy every moment with a toddler because sometimes, just sometimes, tiny children truly do want to crush you like a play dough pizza.
So, instead of another monologue about the preciousness of it all, we’ve created a shout out to all the parents who spend their days cutting sandwiches just the right way to avoid a meltdown, who find themselves congratulating their little ones on pooping, who question their choices when it comes to leaving their babies but then loathe the idea of staying home for another day to build Lego. This is for all the families who play games they can’t win with their children, who laugh and cry, love and hate, all in the course of the day.
On any given day you’ve got sand in your carpet and biscuit crumbs in every inch of your car. Your clothes are covered in banana but you won’t wash them because you’ve already done nine loads this week. Your phone is always (ALWAYS) stuck on 10% battery because of those YouTube videos of people unwrapping Kinder Surprise Eggs. Every cup of tea you make gets spilled (or completely forgotten about) and every meal ends up on the floor. You clean the walls and the backs of chairs after even a snack and can no longer see out of your glass doors. Because avocado.
You’re blamed for breaking forts and imposing bedtime, for cutting fingernails and brushing hair (the nerve!). You’re the Fun Police. You’re the punching bag when their tiny brains can no longer manage their emotions. You read all of the latest research. You try to respect them and acknowledge them. You give them space but make sure they know you’re close by when they’re ready. You give up on all the psychobabble and scream your head off, torpedoing you into a shame spiral that quickly has you feeling like the worst human on the planet.
Then you go in at night and stare at their little sleeping faces. Your fingers gently grip theirs and for a moment you feel their tiny hands pulse around yours, somehow sensing your comforting presence. In that moment your heart explodes and every worn muscle in your body experiences peace. Everything is perfect. You’re not rushing or scolding or despairing over your wasted potential. In that moment you are a perfect parent and everything will be great.
A few hours later someone throws up in their bed.
So instead of telling you to cherish every moment, we’d like to stand with our hands on our hearts and tell you that this is the hardest it will ever be. Nothing will ever deprive you of sleep and energy and headspace and physical freedom as much as this time in your life. And you know what? Even though every day feels so terribly long, even though you try and try and often feel as though you come up short no matter what you choose, you’re doing an amazing job as parents. To your children, you’re everything. Just look past the fact that they just lost it in the supermarket because you wouldn’t buy marshmallows.
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