We all have something that just bugs us. Sometimes it’s merely an observation that after a little reflection, you can ignore. Other times, it just burrows into your subconsciousness and infiltrates your thoughts as you mop the floor or try to watch an episode of Black-ish; its sole mission to enrage you.
This is one of those latter times.
It burns. That’s almost the literal sensation I feel when I hear someone dismiss the time and energy consumed in raising a child as “easy” or “not as hard as running this house.” It could just be me getting older and therefore less inclined to respect certain opinions. More than likely it’s a woefully uninformed opinion that needs to be changed.
For the life of me I cannot conceive of a situation that absent a child would make it more difficult. Feel free to enlighten me. Without sarcasm, I would love to know.
What moment during your day made you say, “'I'd rather clean up these vomit stains on the carpet than do what I am doing right now.” Are there people you work with throwing tantrums and screaming about how they don’t wanna? Am I just lucky I haven’t encountered the cashier that pooped in his hand and gave it to me in lieu of a receipt?
I once stumbled upon a conversation involving a guy I know just as he made the sweeping proclamation that lazy, unorganized people use raising kids as an excuse for not keeping up with yard work.
My wife at the time, who felt that she had failed me as a domestic partner if every dirty article of clothing in the house hadn’t been laundered before I get home from work—posited the ridiculous theory that perhaps raising kids takes more time and energy than Guy-I-Know realizes.
Guy-I-Know goes on an absolute tirade about how he takes care of this and that and still has plenty of time and pride and testicular fortitude and other things I tuned out because it’s easier to let him speak his piece than it is to question him and start another tangent about who’s the biggest idiot (aka anyone not him he meets in daily life) that ruined his day (made him wait an extra minute and a half to get his order right).
It amazes me. When we were together, I helped my wife as much as I could when I was at home. I saw what transpired when I wasn't hiding out in the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom door must be locked for optimum escapism because I am so damn lovable that my kids believed that knocking was for after you barged in to tell stinky daddy they love him.
Raising kids is tough. You have to feed them age-appropriate food and not just leftover Chinese food. Their clothes and bodies are always getting dirty. As fun as it is to dunk a giddy child in a bubble bath fully clothed, spaghetti stains are impervious to anything less than a professional chemist. I have also learned that Capri Sun and Kool-Aid are not suitable for their hydration needs.
So, I implore you, childless people of the world with your uncluttered cars, uninterrupted coitus, and I don’t know, restful nights just take a moment to do something for me.
Visualize you’ve been on hold for half an hour only for your precocious tyke to end the call because touch screens are stupidly sensitive and your daughter just wanted to say hi to the customer service rep.
Imagine finally timing things just right so that you’ll be on time for anything only for your two month old to spit up on your last clean shirt.
Now picture that something similar to one of those two events will happen everyday. Can you still tell me anything you do all day isn’t a walk in a park if you don’t add kids to the equation?
Speaking of which, the “walk in a park” metaphor falls apart when you have kids. There’s always the threat of somebody trying to kidnap them. My kids are gorgeous; people tell me that all the time. I watch those people. Older kids don’t care if they trample them but if I casually knock one of them over...The same kid that freaks out when I toss her up and down is suddenly a fearless daredevil that needs to climb to the top of the highest slide that is too flimsy or compact for my big beautiful body to follow her.
All that said, I love being a dad. Whether they're smiling at me, rupturing my eardrums with a high pitch squeal of delight, or saying “I love you too,” it melts me like the random snow flutters during a Texas winter.
I just want childless people to understand that parents earn those precious moments with all the work we put into keeping them in one piece.
If you don’t believe it’s hard, try it. Not for a day or a week. Not while you’re on vacation and not as a baby sitter.
Do it for as little as two weeks. Do everything you do and also care for just one child under five. Get back with me then.
For the rest of you with a clue, I commend you and respect your comparable struggles. Until next time dear readers, teach them well and let them lead the way.