I have been a mother now for 5 years, and if I was to be honest, it has not been anything like I expected. It isn’t a bad thing. Although, it is true there have been moments of parental desperation when I wished for a time machine, or called out loud to director Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Goblin King to “come and take this child far away from me.” Overall, it is exactly these parenting moments, the ones that leave you wondering, that stand out in my parenting memories. For me, the realness of being a parent comes from these moments of hilarious imperfections, because let’s face it, parenting has a learning curve for us parents just as much as it does for the children we are teaching.
“Parents learn a lot from their children about coping with life.” – Muriel Spark
Parenting comes with a delicate balance of moments that includes questioning what have I done/said, and questioning what has the child done/said. Here are a 5 of my favourites, from a never ending list:
- Missing nipples
One of my first what the f*@# parenting moments occurred within days of becoming a mother. My first son was born at 28 weeks, and 1 day gestation. I remember admiring my 2.7 pound baby, and feeling a whole range of emotions from love to failure. As I looked at him, categorizing his perfections, I noticed that he had no nipples and I absurdly thought to myself that I failed to help him grow nipples! Amid all of the stress, and activity that comes with a premature birth, it was that absurd thought that I locked on to: I failed to help him grow nipples. So, unknown to me, my own what f*@# parenting moments had begun.
- Sleeping in the crib
Okay, the bad parenting rule involves letting the baby sleep in the parent’s bed right? It doesn’t say anything about the parent sleeping in the crib!
So, the set up included: first time mother, premature baby, husband away, baby with chronic ear infections, baby needs constant comfort, no sleep for days, point of complete exhaustion. Desperate to comfort us both without collapsing, I try the only option left. I climb in the crib with the baby. It is cramped, but he finally falls asleep comforted by my closeness, and can I doze too.
I still shake my head when I remember this, a parenting moment so clearly driven by parental desperation. What was I thinking?
- My son’s first taste of peanut butter
My son was at the stage where he was crawling around, and getting into things. Of course, we get mouse in the house. I carefully purchased non-toxic sticky mouse traps while fretting over the whole situation. After garnishing them with a small blob of peanut butter I took the time to hide the traps in places that I believed would be well hidden. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In a moment that can only be described as a “what the f*@# parenting moment,” I found my son kneeling on the floor with his hands stuck to the non-toxic glue. I could see his little eyes over the top of the trap as he looked at me. All the hair on my head stood on end because he was industriously licking the peanut butter off the trap. The trap was new, and thank goodness he didn’t have a peanut allergy!
- “Momma can you show me how to pee standing up?”
Potty-training, sitting down, was easy. However, this particular day caught me so off guard that I’m sure shock registered on my face before I could mask it. I feel positive he waited for dad to leave the house before asking me, “Momma can you show me how to pee standing up?” No amount of coaxing would get him to wait, and ask dad. So, I braced for it and gave him the best instruction I could, however the mechanics of peeing while standing are not my specialty. Standing or sitting, I imagine he will always use toilet paper after he goes pee, a lingering result of asking your mom to teach you to pee standing up.
- Girl in his room
They are just over 2 years old, and I am babysitting my son’s best friend. They go running down the hall to his room. I don’t follow instantly because his room is baby proof; what trouble can they get into? It is less than a minute later when I push the door open to his room. I know that this is not the last time I will enter his room to be surprised by what I find him doing with friends, but I didn’t think these shocks started at 2! The two of them had found the diaper cream, and finger painted each other from head-to-toe, as well as the floor and the wall in a span of seconds! W.T.F?
“Some things don’t last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down on the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there.” – Sarah Dessen
I have learned that part of being a parent includes parenting moments that leave you wondering. It may be hard to find humour in them when they are happening, and it may be hard at the time to think you will find your way through them at all, but we do, and we do it with it a story that we have learned from, grown from, and hopefully found the humour in. These are some of the best parenting moments, and surely some of the funniest memories. Enjoy them, and enjoy being a real parent.
By Shari Marshall – 2016