If you choose to be a parent, you might as well come to grips with the fact that you’re choosing the unpopular path. Choosing parenthood in today’s world is probably comparative to choosing to be the band geek that gets made fun of all through middle school. You’re the kid in A Christmas Story with your tongue frozen to a pole.
You don’t believe me? Walk into a few public places and tell me whether they make parenting easier or harder. I promise you that the odds aren’t in your favor.
The other day I was running errands with my two little girls in town. Haylee is almost four. She goes to the bathroom more than anyone I’ve ever met. Avery is 9 months and so does she. They’re also both constantly hungry. I’ve decided that dancing everywhere you go must burn more calories than normal walking. Just ask Haylee. And Avery . . . well . . . she has cheeks to maintain. We wouldn’t want her jaw line to expose itself any time soon.
We live about 20 minutes from the Tri-Cities where we do all of our shopping . . . and most everything else. Ten minutes into the drive Haylee had to go to the bathroom. She assured me that she went before we left like I told her to, but she just had to go again. In response to my irritation was her excitement.
“Don’t worry, Mom! I want to eat at Panda (Express) anyway and they totally have a bathroom! I can go potty and then we can eat!”
“Haylee, you just ate breakfast!”
“No, I didn’t!”
“Yes, you did! I made you eggs!”
“Oh yeah, that’s right. Well, you didn’t make me enough because I’m hungry.”
Right. My mistake. So, into Panda Express we go. Haylee barely makes it.
“You’re lucky I made it, Mom! I almost peed all over my pants and then what would you have done?”
Sometimes I feel it best not to respond. So I don’t. Sometimes I also feel it’s best to just use the bathroom myself while I’m in there because let’s face it, I have four kids. My bladder is no longer one of those awesome water balloons that you can peg someone in the head with and not have it pop. So, I look around. There’s no changing table to strap Avery to. I actually had to have Haylee sit down in the corner of the stall and hold her. I’m sure that was sanitary . . . or not . . . but I guarantee it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever forced onto my children.
This got me thinking about all of the places that have absolutely nothing to accommodate parents. One of my favorite scenarios involves walking into a public restroom that has duct taped the baby changing table shut with a sign that says, “BROKEN. DO NOT USE.” And it’s been like that for 2 years. The majority of high chairs in restaurants are missing their seat belts. Half of the ones in shopping carts are broken. There is not a public place I can think of where nursing a baby is considered “acceptable” and I even get dirty looks for doing it in my own vehicle.
Parenthood is not popular, so no one makes the effort to encourage or support it. You’re not on the football team that makes the university bucket loads of money. You’re the money pit and the liability. You’re carrying the little person in your arms that is going to spill things on the floor. That toddler holding your hand is going to scream and cause a scene . . . and probably pick his nose while the old guy next to you is trying to eat his burger. You’re tolerated and often pitied.
You’ll realize this the second you dare to have more than one child. The comments that come pouring in are enough to make you feel like you’re on a talk show being told the worst news ever.
“You have how many kids!?”
“Are you crazy!? Please tell me you’re done!”
These proclamations of disbelief are spewed out as if the person giving them is genuinely concerned for your mental and emotional health. I mean, obviously no normal person would deliberately have four children.
“What a cute baby! She must be your first!”
“Thank you. And actually she’s my fourth.”
“How old are you exactly!?”
“Shut up! You can’t be more than twenty-one!”
You’re right . . . my mistake. I got pregnant at thirteen and just kept right on going. I mean, why not? I thought having babies was similar to collecting baseball cards.
“Well, you certainly have your hands full!”
Yep, my hands are full. But so is my heart, lady.
What all of those who have developed a distaste for parenthood fail to realize is that the majority of the time the toughest things you do bring you the most blessings. Parenting is difficult on a good day, but I can’t think of anything I’ve done in my life that has ever brought comparable joy. My suffering will pay off.
So the next time you’re feeling like you were just given a wedgie and left to hang on a locker door, remember that the middle school band geek became the famous musician and the kid in A Christmas Story eventually got his tongue off of that pole. You’re the rock star that everyone is about to envy. You’re the Mom (or Dad) who just successfully raised beautiful, well-adjusted, intelligent children. You run the world.