Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Your Dreams, Mom!

I always wanted to be a parent. Scratch that. Let me start over.  I always wanted to be an awesome parent; an "epic parent", if you will. I envisioned myself with a houseful of happy kids. We would spend our days playing games together: kickball, Monopoly, charades. We'd have picturesque picnics and host sleepovers and go on epic family vacations we would remember and talk about for the rest of our lives. I would hang on their every words, never sighing or moaning about how much work it was or how much it cost to raise them. I'd try to be as unconventional as possible (unlike the stifled upbringing I thought I suffered from). I'd let them paint murals on their bedroom walls.  I'd say an emphatic "Yes" when they asked to bring any and every kind of pet home. (You want a Saint Bernard? Of course! An iguana? Why not?  A long-haired Clydesdale horse? How exquisite!) The sky would be the limit for my children.

Like many of you, I'm sure, I was determined to do things exponentially different than all the other parents I knew who were doing it so wrong. When I actually became a parent though, I realized real quick that the kind of parenting that I thought I would accomplish was somewhat of a mystical idea. There is no "Perfect Parenting". All these notions I had of raising perfect little humans flew out the window the very first time my three-year-old told me  "In your dreams, Mommy!" when I asked him to give me a nice smile for the camera for the 453rd time on his birthday.  I couldn't expect a picture-perfect three-year-old just like I couldn't expect perfection in parenting.  This realization was a major emotional bummer for me.

In becoming parents, we find that the disappointments, sleep deprivation, and the the basic demands of--you know--being adults tug at the neat seam of our resolve until we find ourselves saying things to our kids that we swore we'd never say.  We do the things we promised we'd never do.  We get caught up in moments of "Go clean your room!" or "How many times have I told you not to wipe poop on the bathroom walls?!" We hold our heads in our hands in disbelief at the amount of times we realize that we've turned completely into our own mothers! (At that point, either we laugh at ourselves and realize there's nothing wrong with that, or we pick up the phone and call a therapist.  Both are perfectly reasonable responses.) The farther into it I go, the more of a mess of it I make. Parenting is difficult. It's a dirty business (especially in my house in the potty-training phase)! It's a constant source of joy, grace, and yes, moments of real exasperation in my life.  Long gone are the dreams of parenting perfection.  But I'm learning the "reality" of parenthood is so much better than anything I could have dreamed up on my own. And lucky me, I'm just getting started.

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