The Ups and Downs

The Best Parenting Advice. . .

While I was pregnant with my first, I was told by many, many people that, “Children are the greatest joy.” I was also told repeatedly that, “Life would never be the same.” Or even, “Say goodbye to your freedom.” Let’s just say that the moment that strip turns positive, suddenly all sorts of mixed advice comes from everywhere and everyone.

All of this random and conflicting advice was so hard to understand at the time. How could my kids be the best thing ever, but also destroy parts of my very being and life? It didn’t make sense then, but it definitely does now.

You know Forest Gump? Well, I’ve never seen it. But, I do know that Mr. Gump believes, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” Just like the contradicting advice that I got while I was pregnant, every morning I wake up as a Mom, I’m not sure what my day is going to be like. Some days, it seems like I am raising cherubs sent straight from Heaven; other days, I wonder what evil creature took possession over my child’s body the night before. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” has never made more sense until becoming parent.

Cleaning up spilled orange juice for the third time in a row, listening to my children scream at each other over toys, waking up to change sheets in the middle of the night for various bodily excrements, feeling so isolated from regular human society while I pick up toys and wipe snot all day long — the worst of times.

Listening to my children say, “I love you, too, Mommy,” watching my babies fall asleep while I rock them and sing songs in my arms, licking the brownie batter off of the spoon together, squeezing their chunky, dimpled bums, hearing their excited laughter when we talk about visiting grandma’s house, trick-or-treating in their sibling-coordinated costumes — the best of times.

I think I stopped hating myself so much when I realized that it was okay to sincerely loathe this parenting thing one minute and then fall back in love with it the very next minute. It’s absolutely impossible to explain this emotional whiplash to an expectant mother, but for all those who tried, thank you. Now that I’m a few years in, I know that all of the ups and downs are normal and to-be-expected. I believe that is what everyone was trying to teach me when they gave their advice to me as a wide-eyed newbie. It’s okay to love it. It’s okay to hate it. It’s okay to miss parts of who you were before kids. It’s okay to long for graduation day. It’s also okay to cry at night because of how fast your children are growing up.

My advice? You’re doing okay  Your kids are okay. It’s all okay.


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