It always amazes me when people without kids give parenting advice to people with kids.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher, psychologist, uncle, aunt, or stranger… You. Don’t. Have. Kids. You have no idea. Really. The holidays, and reunions, and Sunday dinners just don’t matter. They are not enough experience to make your advice valid in my eyes.
We parents know that (secretly, of course, and only to the other non-parents) you roll your eyes and judge us. We know that you’re the first one who’s packed up, because you know where all of the three things you brought are. And we see you running an Olympic-qualifying race to your car to get away from us. Surprisingly, we don’t blame you. We envy you. You get to go home to your quiet house, and eat, and sleep, and go out again when you want/where you want/with whomever you want (or don’t want). You get to still in the stillness of your recently vacuumed home and look at all of your nice things. Things that are on display so visitors can see them. Things that aren’t just a picture you have to find in your phone that you show to your friends because the actual item is locked up in the closet behind three dead-bolt locks and a pit bull so that no one gets near it and breaks it. The glass votives and breakable figurines. The china teacup collection that contains a cup and saucer from every city or country you’ve ever visited. And since you can actually save money, you have a decent job with lots of vacation time and good benefits, and you’re able to leave the five-mile radius, you travel often.
You don’t know what it’s like to be punched (or kicked-the elbow and heel of a toddler are remarkably similar in the middle of the night) in the kidney while you’re dreaming of a life of peeing alone and sleeping later than 5AM. The life you used to have. The life you’ll never have again because your going to be stupid and do this at least one more time, if not four, and you’ll be broken and old by the time you are able to go out again without, not only your original plan, but three alternate plans. When you didn’t have to schedule everything five weeks in advance, and then only write it in pencil because someone will probably get the chicken pox, have a fever for no reason, throw up on the way to a play date, or just not be willing to leave the house. When you didn’t have to plan (and pack) for World War 3 every time you left the house.
You don’t know what it’s like to pass by all the wonderful foods, drinks, books without pictures, new electronics, and shiny jewelry/purses/etc. at Costco because you’re making your third trip this week for diapers, Lysol, and the pallet of peanut butter and mac and cheese that only they carry.
You don’t know the extreme gymnastics that go on when you bolt from a bed because your potty-training toddler just wet your bed. You put everything you have into the washer, take them back to their own bed, only to find that they moved to yours because there’s is already soaked.
You don’t know what it’s like to scrape dried “poop paintings” off the walls at 3AM. And you can’t tell me to just “make them stop doing that”.
See, it doesn’t work that way. I didn’t have anyone constantly leaning over me telling me what to do, and how to do it, and when/where/why to do it. My kids are, and will be, ok. If I mention something about them to a non-parent, it is probably because I think it’s a funny story (now that I’ve gotten over the pain of it being my reality). I’m not asking for advice.
I’m. Not. Asking. For. Advice.
I would never dream of giving you advice for the project you’ve got at work. I can’t tell you how to improve your golf swing. You see, I don’t golf. How could I possibly know the ins and outs of something I’ve never done?
If you become a parent, I’m here. I’m happy to help in anyway I can. If you want to know where to get good, cheap mattresses in bulk, I’m your girl. If you want to know how we stopped the poop paintings, just ask. If you need directions to Costco, I know all the shortcuts.
Know this: I wouldn’t switch places with you for the world. I love being a mom. I love having these stories to tell. I love being able to say that my ribs are intact, my kidneys are fine, and my walls are clean. I love being able to say that I survived all of it. I love my life, my stories, and my kids. I would do it all over again. (If I could go back in time. We are too far along to start all of this nonsense again, and both Barry and I have taken steps to ensure that we are defective, so it’s invalid at this point in the game.)
All of that love for what I have doesn’t make the green-eyed monster go away. It just makes me grateful for what I have, hopeful for what I will do in the future, and feel even more blessed that, when the day is done and the errands are ended, there are people to come home to. While I may never again know what it’s like to grab my little tiny purse with only phone, wallet, and keys and leave to spontaneously meet a friend and shop til I drop, I do know late-night snuggles, sprinkle and chocolate sauce pancakes, and the joy of giggling faces and holding hands while first steps are taken.
You can have your china and your eating out budget. I’m very happy with my garage sale Tupperware and a peanut butter sandwich.
That is all.