Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I apologize for you to people who don't have kids, & I hate myself for it.

Dear Em,
I was the best parent I would ever be before I had children. I had firm beliefs about the "right" parental tactics I would use. I just knew that MY children would be well behaved, especially in public. MY children would always say please & thank you & would NEVER throw tantrums (gasp). I looked at rowdy children & just new that my supreme parenting skills would allow my children to rise above it.

I laugh at my pre-child self now. I want to invite her over for a drink (or four) & gently break it to her that she is a complete idiot. How do you explain that the child you hated to sit in front on an airplane because they actively kicked your seat will one day be your own child? How do you explain, that while not ideal, a tantrum is typical behavior for a young child that is overtired? How do you explain that deciding to skip a nap so that you can partake in a fun activity almost guarantees that the next day will be a cranky disaster? How do you explain that although parents work with their children, many young children struggle to sit quietly through a two hour dinner? How do you explain that a child acts much differently outside of their environment than they do when they're in their own environments & on their own schedules? How do you explain that every child is different- in a good way? How do explain that there are some days that you shove every parenting notion you ever had aside & feel happy that you have kept your child alive for the day? I sound like a total ahole when I say this, but sometimes you just can't understand until you've experienced it.

Maybe it's knowing how judgy my pre-parent self was or maybe it's my own insecurities, but sometimes I feel uncomfortable around people who don't have children. I watch them watching you running around with the energy of a lifetime supply of Energizer Batteries & I feel like they're judging. I see their wide, overwhelmed eyes, & I wonder if they think our lives are crazy. I listen to their harmless comments about how active you are, & I wonder if they're asking themselves who would ever want this kind of life. I watch them chastise you for something you have done because they're trying to help, but I wonder what right they have to tell you what's right & wrong. I know that the judgments are possibly all in my head, but it still stresses me out...& so I apologize.

"I'm so sorry we can't eat our meal/ride in the car/take a walk in peaceful calmness." 

"I'm so sorry my child is running around us in circles." 

"I'm so sorry we can't have a five minute uninterrupted conversation." 

"I'm so sorry my child can't sit quietly in your toy-free house & is touching your very breakable things."

"I'm sorry my child didn't embrace you with open arms but instead acted shy."

"I'm sorry my child didn't do what you asked her to do the first time you asked it."

"I'm sorry my child doesn't consider this grassy field a park & is disappointed in the lack of a playground."

"I'm sorry my child won't eat this."

"I'm sorry my child is crying because she missed her nap yesterday."

"I'm sorry my child is whining."

"I'm sorry my child is not quiet."

"I'm sorry my child does not want to sit and watch this adult television show."

"I swear, she is much better behaved at home where she is comfortable & knows the rules & has toys to play with."
I find myself apologizing & explaining way more than I ever would with people who have children. The thing is, I hate myself for apologizing. You are a four year old- an amazing & bright & loving & rambunctious four year old. You don't always sit quietly, & you often forget your manners. When you're overtired, you cry a lot, & you're in no way perfect. But you're FOUR...& when is the last time you met a perfect person anyways.

So, you'll have to forgive me, Em. You'll have to forgive me for apologizing instead of smiling & being a little more proud of you & the less judgy parent that you have made me. You'll have to forgive me for focusing on your rowdiness instead of celebrating the times you do use your manners. You'll have to excuse me for getting flustered when we're asked why our child is acting like this, instead of proudly saying "because this is how children act." 

You see, I'm learning right along with you. I'm pretty sure, together, we'll get it. 
I love you so,


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