If they are newborns or one or three or 6 or 10, enjoy the moment. Because it all changes. You have no idea what’s to come.
You have no idea because, remember before your first was born? You’d read the books. What To Expect When You’re Expecting? Watched the movies—remember Father of The Bride 2? Friends and family with kids would try to warn. You’d reply with, “Yeah, I’m so excited. But I totally get it! I know it’s going to be hard.”
You got nothing.
Because of that thing about knowing versus knowing. Facts become grounded when you experience them. Mommy told you not to touch the candle because it would burn and you then you touched it. Then you knew it burned.
So when you said, with heartfelt conviction wrapped in certitude, “I know it’s going to be hard,” your body oozed serotonin. And for months you juxtaposed all those mild admonitions about how “children change your life” with purchasing cribs and decorating rooms and Pinterest newborn baby boards and that baby shower with all those cute terrycloth-ish little outfits.
Then the big day and then you got home. Then cries and diapers and low amounts of serotonin every day and eventually you realized…
I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT HOW HARD THIS WOULD BE AND NO AMOUNT OF WARNINGS AND WORDS AND OH MY GOD IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL AND REWARDING BUT I HAVE NO LIFE KINDA.
I’m a man so if you’re a mother I’m not trying to equate my fatigue as a father with yours. Not one bit. But I was an active dad and woke up in the middle night and walked them and got up early with them. So I got a glimpse of what mom’s endure. And, whoa.
So if you have children that have not reached the teenage years…
I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT HOW HARD THIS WOULD BE AND NO AMOUNT OF WARNINGS AND WORDS AND OH MY GOD IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL AND REWARDING BUT I HAVE NO LIFE.
Here’s the warning that will completely go in one ear and out the other: Before they are teenagers, no matter the age, they need you. They want you. They take showers and you could tuck them in and read and smell the smell of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and they giggle and ask permission for sweets dot dot dot.
All those children’s books. I heard on NPR last week that Beverly Clearly turned 100. You know, The Mouse And The Motorcycle, etc. Nothing like freshly bathed children tucked happily into their cute bed with reading and hugs and giggles and prayers maybe and it makes you the parent feel wanted and loved and like you’re contributing.
It’s all so innocent. And the love is usually coming your way.
Biology is a hard science. Animals need to survive. And eventually animals (our children included) need to learn to fend for themselves.
They must pull away. That means, in certain mental respects, you suck mom and dad.
And when they become teenagers, chances are, they don’t think they need you. They don’t want you. They take their own showers. Or not. Whenever they want. And you ain’t tucking them in. Nor reading to them. If they are boys you might catch a wiff of hormone targeted bodywash. Through the cracks of their closed bedroom door. After their 20 minute shower. And that smell didn’t come from that classic frilly pink Johnson’s bottle.
It don’t feel as good when the love ain’t comin’ your way.
Oh, the bodywash.
Axe “Snake Peel.”
And, Axe “Gold Temptation.”
I’m guessing that Gold Temptation produces more opportunities than Temptation but I’m not certain.
Then, Axe “Dark Temptation 3.”
Sometimes they get Old Spice.
Old Spice “High Endurance.”
Old Spice “Red Zone Swagger.”
Old Spice “Stronger Swagger.”
I’m guessing that Stronger Swagger produces more swagger than Red Zone Swagger but I’m not certain.
And, of course, Old Spice “Red Zone After Hours.”
You get my point?
Younger children don’t let you sleep, older children don’t let you rest.
Then, say many parents, they grow-up and move out and you worry about them as much as you did than when they were toddlers or teenagers.
No one tells you that part.
And, even when they did tell me, I didn’t hear it.