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4 Parenting Things I Thought I'd Know By Now But Totally Don't

Photograph by Twenty20

When I imagined becoming a parent, I assumed I’d be bestowed with some ancient mothering wisdom. Parenting wouldn’t be easy, but surely, it’d feel natural, instinctual.

And some parts do—the sweeping, vast love that’s unconditional and effortless. The warm, mammalian snuggles. The striking ability to pinpoint the exact moment just before they puke. But there are other aspects of parenting where I’m in over my head.

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Here are four things I thought I’d know by now, but totally don’t:

1. How to Cook

I don’t know why I believed that somehow, after delivering my babies, I’d suddenly start delivering 1950’s style casseroles on the regular. I never learned to cook at a level above, say, grilled cheese with a side of sliced apples. And the handful of dishes I do know how to cook, like pasta, enchiladas, and tofu with rice? When I offer them to my children, their faces scrunch up in the same way they might if I were to gently press a dog’s anus to their noses.

2. What Shoe Size My Children Wear

I am likely in jeopardy of getting my parenting license revoked for this one. And for a spell, when my son was a toddler, I totally knew he wore a 5, a 7, a 12! But then I had another kid, and the part of my brain in charge of keeping track of shoe sizes completely combusted. I have absolutely no idea what size shoes my kids currently wear. I could go look right now, but why? The knowledge will immediately roll back out of my head, and besides, their sizes are just going to change again tomorrow.

But corporal punishment is no longer en vogue, and I can’t seem to hop on Facebook without seeing infinite and contradictory research about discipline.

3. How This Who Discipline Thing Works

Growing up, discipline was fairly simple—if I did something naughty, I got sent to my room or spanked. But corporal punishment is no longer en vogue, and I can’t seem to hop on Facebook without seeing infinite and contradictory research about discipline. I read "1-2-3, Magic," and we do time-outs sometimes. But mostly? My discipline toolbox consists of a heaping helping of threats and bribes. I’m really just winging it in this department. Please don’t tell my kids.

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4. My Parenting Style

As a crunchy, creative type, I imagined reading my kids poetry and teaching them the names of all the constellations while we nibbled tofu served on a bed of brown rice with kale sprinkles. As it turns out, my creative energy isn’t as potent as I’d thought, and what I do have gets funneled into creating techniques to trick my five-year-old into getting dressed, creating new ways to cut the toast and apples I’m serving for lunch, and creating ways to not constantly lose my shit. As for poetry, I occasionally read Dr. Seuss books while my progeny pound down free-range pepperoni.

While I’m still trying to figure this whole parenting thing out, I also never could’ve imagined all the new skills I’d procure: like how to fight a fierce light saber battle, toss a football, or memorize the names of all the characters from My Little Pony.

Parenthood is nothing if not full of surprises.

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