Kids are a joy. Being a parent is a privilege and an honor. A whole new world opens up to you when children come on the scene. Your priorities change, suddenly staying out late sounds like a waste of time. Your perspective changes, you begin to think things like grimaces, hiccups, and toothless grins are the cutest thing in the world! Your vocabulary enters a whole other dimension completely. No longer do you say things like, "good night" or "use the restroom." Suddenly you are saying things like "nighty nighty" and "make tinkle." It's not just you though, everyone around you begins to act differently when you are accompanied by your offspring. Without warning people are saying all kinds of things to you. It seems everywhere you go people, friends, strangers are offering unsolicited advice and voicing unwelcome opinions. For instance, I hear the following ALL THE TIME. If you have more than 3 kids, you have heard it too.
I did get one warning early on.
* "Are all of them yours?"
I always resist the urge to say, "You know it was the strangest thing, I got to the store today and all these random kids started piling into my cart. Then I realized, they all look suspiciously alike." One day I might just go ahead and say it!
Then there is this
* "You do know what causes that, right?"
Hey, if your mom didn't take the time to sit down and explain to you where babies come from, that's not on me. Your are going to have to find somebody else to tell you what caused this!
Or when somebody says
* "you sure have your hands full!"
I say "You sure have a lot of wrinkles! Oh sorry, were we not pointing out the obvious?" Ok, I don't say that... out loud.
Somehow, with a child or two in your midst, you are suddenly attracting some mighty strange people.
* I always felt sorry for the elderly woman that would walk up to my 4 month old baby and ask, "where are your socks? Don't you know you are going to get sick?" Obviously she was a little crazy thinking my baby was going to answer her. I always thought it was the saddest thing.
I did get one warning early on.
* My mother said to me, 1,999 times growing up, "just wait until you have kids of your own." I wish she had told me just one more time. I really think I could have better mentally prepared for the day that I had kids of my own. It's helpful though that she often erupts into uncontrollable laughter when she's around us.
* In the same way, if one more little old lady had patted my arm and said, "enjoy it while it lasts, it goes by so fast," despite the fact that every trip to the grocery store felt like 3 years of my life, I really think I could have stopped and enjoyed my 3 year old pulling every cereal box off the shelf and into our cart, while my 2 year old cried hysterically because I had not agreed to buy diego gummies, and my 9 month old threw veggie puffs, screamed for more and threw those too. If just one more little old lady had taken the time to warn me, I just know I would have enjoyed it while it lasted.
I had slightly older friends too, ones that already had kids in school. There were two different types of these people.
* The ones that consoled, on a regular basis, "just wait, it gets easier." I never felt comforted by their ability to look into my future and see that life would indeed become easier for me.
* The other group of slightly less well meaning older friends would exclaim with a sigh, "just wait, it gets much harder!" At least these friends had the guts to be honest with me, but I always felt like this just minimized the current mental break down I was in the midst of having. After all, their life was much harder!
* To the stranger who said to me, "I think somebody needs a nap!"
"I do, I really do. It's unclear though, are you offering to watch my kids while I take one or are you just pointing it out?"
This well intentioned nugget
"Don't be so hard on them, they are just kids after all," always gives me mixed feelings. It is almost always said by a sweet gentleman at church. For a few seconds I think I can relax, after all we are not being judged. Then I remembered, wait yes we are!
I consider striking a deal with him. "Ok, you get up in front of the congregation and make an announcement that, 'today we will allow the Brooks to take it easy, their kids will be, just for today, allowed to act like kids!' And I will happily stop being so hard on them."
I have only heard this one a couple of times,
* "when we had kids they were expected to be seen and not heard"
But honestly, if I am gripping the sides of my chair - knuckles bright white, speaking through gritted teeth, eyes large and bulging - very nearly out of my head, and my children have managed a four way fight over a pregnancy magazine at the doctors office, the only helpful words that you could possibly say to me are, "I will adopt every single one of them right now!"
There are many well meaning people out there, wanting to give a word of advice. There are also flat out mean people, wanting to make a stink. Sometimes I take it to heart, other times I blow it off. Often it is just said at an inopportune time. I am learning to make a mental note and sift through it later. There are a few treasures I'd do well to learn from. For all the rest I will just hit delete!
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