Jackson turned 5 last week. Somedays it’s hard to believe he is not the skinny, sleepless baby that we brought home from the hospital. Other days it’s hard to believe we have survived 5 years as parents! As I was cleaning today, I was reflecting on how much life has changed since little Yoder Toter arrived! Here’s 5 things he has taught me- and you probably learned some of the same things when you brought home your first little bubby.
- You are selfish. Life-altering information, here, folks! It takes the first 5 or 10 times of that little baby screaming in the middle of the night for you to think, “Ummmm, I REALLY like my beauty sleep.” Or I really like to sit through a meal. Or I REALLY like to pee alone. That little baby doesn’t really care what you like though, and it’s time you learn to give up some of your own preferences in order to care for that sweet bundle. Now that we have three little ones, I think this gets even uglier than ever- “I may never sit through an entire meal agaaaiiinnn” has plagued my mind a few times. It hard giving it up. It’s hard serving others before yourself. Daily battle. Enough said.
- Everything you “knew” about parenting has now become null and void. Brian and I knew absolutely everything about kids- until we had them! Now we laugh heartily at the fact that we thought that once we spanked our kids once they would OBEY US FOREVER! Isn’t that how that works? Um, negative ghost writer. Parenting is a day-to-day struggle and I don’t believe the ones who think they have it all figured out. Some babies don’t sleep through the night for a year + (*cough*cough*Jackson) no matter what you do. Some will test you every day no matter how many warnings, time outs, threatening life on the street, etc. This is not an easy game.
- You don’t want (unsolicited) advice All those baby shower games where you give advice to the mom…can we please just throw them away? Unless the advice is- sleep when you can, read when you can, pee when you can… Oh, no one writes that? I’m sounding so harsh here, but I don’t care if you slept with your baby while feeding them organic granola and and then took away the sippy cups at 2…. All kids are different. We’ve done things a little different with the younger two. You know the temperament of your child a little better with each one. Now, I’m not saying I don’t want advice in general. If I call you and ask you what you would do in x situation, please please please give advice. I just think as a society we all need to stop the “I think you should do….” for moms. It just adds more guilt, stress, and overall worry that somehow she is doing something “wrong.”
- You didn’t appreciate your mom (and dad) enough Ahhh, this is so true. If your mom woke up every morning and got you breakfast (or at least had food in the house for you), carted your behind to every practice, recital, and school day; heck, even changed your diaper for 18 months- 4 years you should stop what you are doing and call her and THANK HER PROFUSELY. Dad, too. This isn’t easy work, folks. Days are long. Whether mom worked full-time and then came home to cook you dinner and do the laundry, or mom stayed home and cleaned up Play-Doh crumbs and wiped your boogers all day… They did it out of love for you. I know my parents made a lot of sacrifices and worked hard so I could have a good life, but I really did not get this at all until I had kids. And honestly, I maybe didn’t get it fully until we had three (because they had three and it is like the crazy looney bin around here most days).
- You really didn’t understand unconditional love Not. at. all. There have been times in my life before children where someone had a grown child that was wayward, law-breaking, even took advantage of them or did drugs in their own house. I could not understand how that parent did not just throw them out on the street and claim “Good riddance.” The logic in my head said that the only lesson was the hard lesson. This may be true in many regards. But as mothers (and some fathers), the love we have for our children is deep. So deep. I’ve only had this gig for five years but I can see how we desire to never “give up” on our kids.
I have no clue what the next 20 years will be like with our brood, but I’m thankful to be a mom and I’m learning a little more each day – unsolicited advice and all!
What is the biggest lesson your kids have taught you? How have you dealt with being selfish- or dealt with well meaning strangers giving you advice?