This post is a guest post I did for the blog Our Life in 3D. This post is different than my usual posts, but I think you will enjoy it. I am linking here to the actual post because that post was put together really well with pictures included. If you would rather read the text, that is below.
The Learning Curve
Before you decide whether you should bother to read this or not, let me tell you something very important about myself. I have four children and they are all under 8 years of age. This will prove to be a helpful tidbit when I start to babble or I reference cartoon characters as if they were sitting right next to me. I recognize that for some people the thought of having more than one child in the one room at a time sounds like a death sentence, but for me I find a way to manage my life’s chaos. The funny thing is that when we had the first three children, people were so happy for us. Once we got to four fourth, the tone in their voices changed from excitement to that of panic. It is true that people will make comments to us about how crazy our life must be or how we really need to stop having children. It is also true that life can be crazy, but I would rather be crazy than bored. Parenting does not work like any of the books tell you that it does. There are very few overarching principles that everyone can count on as a parent. There are several things, however, that you can only learn properly through parenting.
Sleep is a privilege, not a right – This one you find out very early when your baby decides to wake up at any old time of the night and then stare at you. That routine is cute for a few minutes, but starts to lose its novelty after the first night. The ironic part of this is that your children hold all the cards as it relates to your sleep. If they feel like sleeping, you sleep. If they feel like waking up at 5:00 a.m., so do you. (like it or not) Don’t even bother trying to make the room darker in order to get them to sleep longer. The extra blankets you hang on the blinds just break the blinds and the kids wake up earlier because they make noise when they fall.
Everything you say your kids will never do, your kids will definitely do. I remember our first hotel stay with child number one when we mad a fun little stay overnight on our way to visit my parents. We took our baby to a restaurant and got evil glares from an older couple across from us. I know what they were thinking, but our baby was not one of those. Ok, well, this night he didn’t want to sit still and he didn’t want to be quiet. This was the same hotel stay that my wife walked out of the room and left the car seat on the bed with our child in it. This would be funny, except I had just checked us out of the room and had returned the room key. Did I mention we now have four kids?
Privacy doesn’t exist, so bathroom doors need to be locked at all times. – Doors don’t mean a thing to my kids. If the door is closed, they just open it up. If you don’t want them to come in, you better lock the door. Even with a lock, don’t be surprised when they bang on the door like a scene from a horror film. They even make scary sounds when they are out there, so it works out well. The irony of this is that they don’t close the door to use the bathroom.
Exercise is included, batteries are not. – I remember having the conversation with my doctor who told me I needed to exercise more. I told him I was constantly chasing my kids around and so I was getting a substantial workout. He told me that it didn’t count! I beg to differ. There are days that I sit down for only a few seconds at a time because the kids always need something. Of course, if you do sit down for longer than a few minutes you realize that you are actually quite tired and start to fade away.
Meals are about more than food, thankfully since parents don’t eat – Meals are a tremendous opportunity for communication and getting material for your blog. Meal times are so much work for me, but they are also some of the best times we have during the day. There are times when I don’t sit down until the kids are done and my food is cold. During the entire meal we are talking about things that happened during the day or things we are looking forward to. In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that my kids make such a mess that I often tell me kids, “don’t touch me” after they eat. The truth can be painful.
Kids will get sick when you are the busiest, but when you are sick they will be the healthiest they have ever been. – The weeks that I have the most to do are the weeks that one of my kids, or a few of my kids, get sick and are up at night. Then when I am sick, they are healthy and ready to charge and conquer all the nations of the world. Sickness will happen, so you will need to dig deep and figure out how to make it through the day. Hopefully, your spouse is well when you are sick. That is not a guarantee.
Secrets are actually suggestions. – The moment I say to one of my kids, “don’t tell your brother” they will head out the door and tell their brother. If you want to keep a secret from someone, do not tell your child. I know the temptation is there because they will be excited, but don’t tell them. Resist at all costs!
Baby drool is sterile- I bet you didn’t know that! People without children will run away because they seem to believe that baby drool will remove their flesh on contact. I have seen people nearly throw a child to the ground when they drooled. As a parent, you just learn to roll with it and, unfortunately, in it. Our kids did a lot of spitting up as well and it was not unusual for me to have stuff on any shirt I was wearing.
Kids bounce off things – I think people often look at me funny when one of my kids takes a spill and I just stand there and say, “you’re fine, get up.” The thing is, I know they are fine. People who don’t have kids just need to let the parent deal with it, unless there is an obvious injury. Most of the time kids will just bounce off things and move on.
There are many pressures inherent with life, but none as fulfilling as parenting. I look at pictures of my kids and lament at how fast they are growing, wondering how I could ever live without them. They make me stop and notice things I would never notice. They also give me excuses to do things that normally only kids can do. There is nothing quite as terrorizing and meaningful as parenting.
You will notice I only wrote nine lessons here. If you are like me, this bothers you because you want there to be a nice even 10. This is where the reader comes in. I only have four kids; some people have far more experience than that. I give the end of this post to you to finish. What are some lessons you have learned as a parent? If you don’t have kids, what are some lessons you think you have learned from watching people who do have children? That way we can learn from other people and hopefully do an even greater parenting job.