Parenting is MORE, so much more than just producing a child and then giving birth. Oh sure, that makes you a “mother” or a “father” by definition, but it doesn’t make you a mom or a dad.
Parenting is hard.
Parenting is being awakened in the night to clean up vomit- vomit that couldn’t possibly have made it onto the tile floor but is, instead, on every piece of fabric in the entire room including the rugs and curtains and the lampshade and the basket of clean clothing which then means that you will be doing more laundry than you ever imagined could exist in the world while nursing your sick child back to health.
Parenting is having multiple children want to tell you their stories at the same time while trying to compete for your attention by grabbing your arm and talking over everyone else as loudly as possible while they attempt to tell a story but they have to keep starting over again from the beginning because they keep getting interrupted by the other children and you have to pretend that you are keenly interested in all of their stories at the same time by making eye contact at least every 2 seconds with each of them even though you may have fallen into a temporary coma. (Note: they take FOREVER to tell a story that could easily be summed up with one sentence but is drawn out over a ten minute period and usually they make no sense. They also insert random fill words like “um” and “soooo” at least 1,317 times. Get used to it.)
It is you being forced to watch their favorite movie seventeen times in one day because it is their favorite movie. It is having the stupid songs from the silly movie stuck in your head for days and possibly weeks. It is you eventually knowing the dialogue of said movie without even trying.
It will also include the bonus of sleeping with children who got scared for no apparent reason whatsoever and crawled into your bed in the middle of the night and you being too tired to walk them back to their own room- children who may have been kangaroos in another life because they kick you repeatedly all night just for sport, and they wake rested and enthused while you have to resist the urge to throat punch them into orbit.
It is endless carpools where you arrive an hour early because you got bad information from your 3rd grader so you just have to sit there and wait because driving home would be useless because you’d have to turn around and go back to get them as soon as you got there, and boring soccer games where you have to pay actual money to get onto the field to watch your child sit on the bench the entire night.
It is year after year of show and tell and birthday parties and cupcakes for the class and sleepovers with screaming girls or shrieking boys that want to leap and roll and spill things and paint things and then bungee jump off the roof. You will be required to have the scheduling skills of a certified activities director because you’ll be coordinating everything from school trips, piano lessons, dental visits, after school rehearsals, teacher conferences, AND you must get your kids field trip T-Shirt payments in on time because if you don’t, your child will be the ONLY one not wearing this T-Shirt and all life as you know it will end and your child will not succeed in life.
Parenting is picking them up from school with a note from the nurse that they have lice while you pray for the rapture to happen. It then means days and days and weeks of treating them for lice, treating their friends for lice, treating friends of their friends for lice because you are now known as the “lice whisperer”, and then burning all hats, princess crowns, clippy things, tie backs, hair bands, and anything that looks suspicious in a ritualistic ceremony that I truly believe tells the lice that they are no longer welcome in our home. Lice means head checking every human being that comes within fourteen feet of any of your family members and looking at your children’s friends with great suspicion. Lice also means endless laundry and the hum of the clothes dryer nonstop for 17 days. This also means your electric bill will skyrocket. Usually this happens around Christmas-time when you can least afford it.
Being a parent is a revolving door of pets. Pets that poop. It is bird cages, fishtanks, poop, hamster houses, litter boxes, lots and lots of poop, and the empty promises that they will clean up the poop. I’m just going to tell you right now that these are lies. Blatant, unapologetic lies. They do not clean up the poop. They will go to great lengths to “hide” the poop so that YOU will find it and have to clean it up. They will deny that they saw the poop even though they have gently placed a clean hand towel right over the top of said poop so someone else will find it.
Then there will be bazillions of haircuts, the “no you can’t dye your hair purple” debate, shopping for just the right pants, buying underwear 47 times so you can find “just the right fit and fabric”, trying to find a prom dress that will make you want to become Amish (there is no such thing as a “modest” prom dress), vacuuming cheeze-it’s and socks out of your sofa, bath time EVERY SINGLE NIGHT (and when you have multiple kids you have to actually write down who showered “when” because they will try to fool you and you honestly will lose track).
It is hours of helping with homework every day which will make you feel like you are a complete moron, soccer practices and basketball games, and science projects that you aren’t prepared for and “I need a gift for so and so by tomorrow” which justifies your “gift closet”, and saving every little handprint pumpkin, and snowflake Christmas gift, and searching for the missing mask – shoe- backpack- the night before Halloween.
It is trying to remember to stay up late enough to put money under their pillow every time they lose a tooth. It is trying to remember when “picture day” is happening.
It is prayers each night, feeding them every night (because they always want dinner), teaching them to swim, ride a bike, tie their shoes, button their shirts, and have manners. It’s worrying every time they cross the street or go to a party and demanding them to “tell your father” because you are at your wits end with the drama. There is lots and lots of whining and noises that you can’t quite identify. There will be endless bickering and the use of “shut up” in almost every sentence.
It is teaching them to drive a car. (This, and other scenarios that involve teaching teenagers any skill in life, should be incorporated into any government form of torture to make spies talk because they wouldn’t last 10 minutes.)
The list is endless.
It is thankless, it is exhausting, and it is a lifetime, every single day, even when you don’t feel like it commitment. Being a parent means more than just saying you love your child. That is meaningless lip service.
Being a parent means actually “being there” and putting in the hours. If you can’t do that, then please don’t show up to share the big moments like special events and holidays. It isn’t fair to those of us who do all the work.