It recently occurred to me how insanely naïve I was about being a parent as I was growing up. I am significantly older than my siblings, being about 9 and 12 years older than them. This meant much babysitting as I was growing up, and you could pretty much say I raised them [due to family situations I’m really not going to delve into here].
I always wanted to be a mother, so taking care of my siblings was easy for me. I’m a natural with kids. I have a younger sister and brother, so I got to see the ups and downs or both genders. They had their ornery moments, they had their rebellious moments, and they had their quiet moments…. they still were easily managed by me. Yeah, parenting is easy. It was going to be a cakewalk for me!
My family wasn’t very well off when I was older, and we frequently didn’t have much in the house to eat. I always prided myself on my cooking and baking abilities, and I somehow managed to make whole meals out of what seemed like nothing. I made sure my siblings always had a good meal to eat when I was around. In fact, they would ask for me to make dinner whenever possible. My mother would lie to them and say that I made the food just to get them to eat… and half the time they would take a bite, look at her and say that I didn’t make it. I felt bad for my mother, but she just wasn’t as inventive as I was in the kitchen.
Let’s fast forward to me moving out. I’m living on my own in an apartment complex. There is a family living above me with a 1 ½ year old daughter. She was one of the most adorable little girls ever, and I told them they simply must let me watch her for them sometime and they can go out and enjoy some quality time. I insisted that it would be free, as I want my “baby fix”. Heck, I was in college…. I didn’t need to be getting pregnant from my (non-existent) boyfriend then! A baby fix would be great! They took me up on it a couple of times, both for going out on dates and for just cleaning around the house (or taking a nap). I loved it. We read books. We played with (read: pulled hair, appendages, and poked eyes) my (surprisingly well-behaved) cat (who hid every time she heard that little girl from that point forward), and we baked.
Yes, we baked. I would hold this little girl in one arm, hand her a spoon, and we would bake. I made pies, cookies, whatever. Yes, a toddler in one arm, and freshly baked goods in the other. The mother would be so surprised when she picked her daughter up and was sent home with fresh (from scratch) baked goods.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was thinking ahead to all the things I’d be doing. On my days off from work, I could clean, bake things with my son, and just have fun. It would be great. I just didn’t understand those people that had children and had (overly) messy houses, or claimed they couldn’t get a meal made. Those parents must just be lazy! I managed to cook, clean, play games, relax, etc. with both of my siblings and with that little girl I would watch. Yes, they must just be lazy.
Oh boy, was I ever in for it. I seriously thought that these people just made excuses because they didn’t want to make dinner, they didn’t feel like cleaning, or any other number of things.
Then I had Bobble. Bobble is now 18 months old, and I am definitely hit hard with reality. I get absolutely nothing done. I blink an eye and he’s throwing things off of a shelf. I pick those up to turn around and see he dumped all the cat food on the floor, threw something in their water bowl, and is now throwing all of my cookbooks on the floor. I get those organized to find him having flipped a table, standing on a couch (or table), chewing a cat’s tail, you name it. I can’t even get my mind around how other parents manage to go to the bathroom, much less clean or make a dinner.
I’ve tried to cook since having Bobble. Let me rephrase. I’ve tried to cook since Bobble became mobile. I think I got as far as setting out a couple of the ingredients. Yep. That’s it. I didn’t even get dinner PREP WORK done, much less make anything. I look back on my earlier experiences with caring for children and I realize that it wasn’t me being awesome with children (although caring for children does come naturally to me), it was luck. I was lucky my siblings were obedient (for the most part…. and it was because they were scared of me), and I was lucky that neighbor girl was just such a sweet, calm, helpful little girl. She didn’t try and fling a spatula of batter across the room, she just wanted to watch me and stir if I said she could stir. Bobble will fling food whenever possible, shove his hand in whatever might seem interesting (lately, that’s been the toilet water), and if we try to get him to do something he simply MUST do the opposite. I honestly do not have any idea how my husband manages to make meals with Bobble home. I am very impressed, and very thankful.
I also tip my hat to all you other parents. For those of you with those helpful, obedient toddlers: LUCKY YOU! For all you with toddlers like Bobble: I understand, and I won’t call you lazy!
I still have no idea where this craziness that Bobble has is from. I remember crying (as a toddler) when my mother wouldn’t let me help fold the laundry because it would take too long. I was a super well-behaved child. I just wanted to be helpful and be with my mom. I’m assuming my mother just got lucky. I’m also assuming that Bobble behaves this way because my husband was a crazy child. Of course, I’m assuming my husband was a crazy child… but it certainly wasn’t me!
So there you have it: my complete misconception of how parenting would be. What sort of things did find out you were completely wrong about after becoming a parent?