The other night,
a typical scene presented itself in my house: The baby was screaming, the big
kids were fighting, dinner was burning, I had a deadline looming, and my
husband was pacing the kitchen with the look of a caged animal.
roared. “Why did we do this to ourselves? Why is this so hard?”
I chuckled as I
shifted the baby to my other shoulder and continued my rounds of the bounce-step-bounce dance known to
parents around the world in a vain attempt to get her to calm down.
learned the secret yet?” I asked him. Bounce-step-bounce.
He just stared at
My husband may
not be in the know, but I am privy to the one vital secret that every parent
with young children needs to know, the one simple trick that helped make me a
better, more patient parent. The trick that kept me sane just this morning — when I tried to
be spontaneous and take the kids to get donuts, but instead my son dumped his
entire milk carton down the wall and we hit the car next to us with a door
flung open too vigorously.
is this great secret?
actually incredibly easy.
it’s called acceptance.
me to illustrate. Say, hypothetically speaking, of course, you realize one
morning that you are out of printer ink and you need some paperwork printed. "No problem," you may think to yourself. "Surely the kids can handle popping into the
store for a literal two minutes while I pick a new one up." Except when you
load them up and walk into the store and in the span of those two minutes they
have actually managed to knock every ink cartridge off of the wall and somehow dislodge a stapler and upset a
display case and alienate every customer in the store, you may be tempted to
burst into tears at the cash register and wonder, "Why? I should be able to run a quick errand without all hell breaking
loose! I must be a terrible mother and my kids are being ruined for life!"
then the rest of your day would be ruined as well as you became lost in that
grumpy, overwhelmed fog that every mother knows so well.
Instead of fighting it, stressing over it or complaining over it, the trick to surviving it is accepting that this is parenting.
say that the aforementioned scenario went down, and instead of despairing and wondering
why things couldn’t just be different, you simply employed my secret trick of
acceptance. Instead of wondering if all hope was lost, you would accept that
this is the way parenting always goes. If you think an errand will be quick, it
won’t be. If you absolutely must get out of the door on time, someone will
inevitably poop his or her pants on the way out. If you are facing a critical
day at work in the morning, you can sure as heck bet that the kids will be up
Instead of fighting it, stressing over it or complaining over it, the trick to
surviving it — with your sanity intact and maybe even a smile on your face — is
accepting that this is parenting.
is not what happens only when our kids are well-behaved or when our day goes
smoothly or when the baby finally sleeps through the night.
is realizing that for the first few months of your baby’s life, you will not be
able to sit down and eat dinner with two hands — and that’s OK, because guess
what? It’s not forever.
is realizing that potty training just might be your worst nightmare — but guess
what? Your son will eventually get the hang of it.
is realizing that yes, grocery shopping seems like one phone call away from the
Social Services because you accidentally ran your kid over with the cart
again — but guess what? Before you know it, that kid will be helping you unload
it’s just me, but so much of the stress of parenting for me has been the
frustration over what I think should
be a simple task. It feels like the
baby should just be able to be happy being held, not also bounced on my hip. It
feels like we should be able to have
a nice, civil dinner conversation without 10,000 forks flying off the table and
800 cups of milk being spilled. But it never, ever goes that way.
So what happened when I finally
learned to stop expecting that things will always go swimmingly or that my kids
will always be perfect angels or that I will be the world’s most Pinteresty of
mothers and accepted that this — this life of messes and tantrums and young kids — is
my imperfect life right now?
suddenly got a whole lot less stressful. Because it’s not always me or my
kids or proof that I’m doing a horrible job.
parenting is just hard.
And that’s OK. Now,
who wants to buy me a new ink cartridge?