Sh*t My Kid Taught Me
It’s more than sleep schedules and changing diapers.
Oh, parenthood. You messy, complex thing you. Nothing has ever been, or will ever be, as frustrating as trying to pin you down. But I keep trying to. Some days I feel like I get it right, and others I find myself eyeing an emotional breakdown like it’s a perfectly chilled bottle of rosé.
Days creep by, while also refusing to slow down and let me savor the sweetness of my daughter’s formative years. Chaos abounds while we stumble through her favorite activities. She wants color, glitter, and tea parties; I want a nap, a steady income and a hot meal that isn’t Mac n’ Cheese.
Before I became who I am now, I loved my quiet mornings and felt content within my singularity. I had a penchant for changing boyfriends/towns at the drop of a hat, and loved starting over. My motto was: If it doesn’t fit in my car, I don’t need it.
But ALL of me changed when I became a parent. It changed so quickly, in fact, that I’m still recovering from the whiplash.
Suddenly I wasn’t me, and I had to learn the intricacies of this new, perfect little bundle while also trying to rediscover the stranger staring back at me in the mirror every morning.
In the midst of all of this chaos and uncertainty, there are some truths/realizations that have settled nicely into my day to day.
My kid taught me not to sweat the small stuff.
At any given moment, my house is a certified disaster zone. Hurricane Toddler moves faster than this mom’s hands can clean…and I think I’m finally OK with that. In fact, I’ve come to love the sight of little footprints on the freshly mopped floors, and the finger paint rainbows on the furniture.
Her meals don’t look like the dreamy, influencer-mom squares I see on my personal Insagram feed. Sometimes she wants chocolate ice cream for breakfast…and yes, sometimes I cave.
And I don’t sweat it.
Because now I know that picking my battles as a parent is absolutely crucial to happiness and mom-survival.
My kid taught me to stop feeling bad for cancelled/delayed plans.
Shit happens. And it can happen in an instant.
Whether it’s a tantrum that pushes our schedule back, or deciding that we’re just too damn tired to go anywhere. I know my inner circle will understand if, for any reason, I just can’t make it.
If someone doesn’t offer understanding, that’s not your problem. Take it as an opportunity to assess the relationships in your life, and move on from relationships that aren’t growing with you.
Which brings me to this next gem of a lesson…
My kid taught me that I can’t keep up with my single/child free friends and family…and I don’t want to.
Going out without first needing to jump through a million childcare hoops, or worrying about being able to even afford a sitter AND some fun, is definitely a luxury.
I miss this aspect of pre-parenthood life sometimes. BUT- I freaking love being a parent.
So, while friends may be traveling, or singing along with their favorite band at the hottest new music venue, I’m singing with her. Together, we’re dancing around the living room in tutus not made for my adult hips (but dammit, I’m gonna try). Getting the chance to explore the world through her eyes is priceless.
My kid taught me how to live in the moment.
Among the toys sprawled across the living room floor, tangled up like sparkly stickers in my hair, is a me that is deeply entrenched in the moment.
At any given moment, I’m not sure where my phone is (though I’ve learned to always check at the bottom of the toy box before assuming it’s gone forever). And no…I probably don’t know what day it is, or when I showered last.
With each day, it’s becomes painfully obvious that all I need, or want, is to watch the way she dances around the living room. The world can keep spinning; I’m busy.
Obviously the list goes on. I learn every single day, and I’m lucky enough to have a partner beside me on this crazy ride called parenthood.
More than anything, I really hope I never stop trying to be the person my daughter thinks I am. Maybe somewhere along the way I’ll be able to say I learned more about myself after losing who I thought I was than I did during all those years alone.
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Coming from the perspective of a dad to a boy who just turned one, this piece is so good. Straight from the heart. The part about the chocolate ice cream for breakfast... and the caving.... LOL A quick but good glimpse into some of the joys and challenges of sharing life with a little person. Very nice article.