Parenting is no joke.
Though I’m only 18 months into my parenting journey, I’ve already taken note of ways my behaviour’s impacting my impressionable little son. Like his surprise one Saturday morning upon waking up from a nap, finding me at the kitchen table instead of at my computer desk where I was evidently supposed to be. Or his understanding that I won’t give in to toddler terrorism — all the fussing and whining in the world won’t get me to give you a banana when you’re supposed to eat your dinner.
It’s stressful, knowing your behaviour and decisions will have very real consequences in shaping your child’s future; you spend most days winging it, tackling each new issue as best you can, knowing there’s no standardized textbook to guide you through the steps.
But the problems are far from new — the confusion, the worry, second-guessing your decisions… I wouldn’t be surprised if this was exactly what my parents felt when they raised me.
Your parents were cool, too, until they had mouths to feed!
I remember spending much of 2013 stressed, feeling like a child would be the end of the road. Until then, I’d grown accustomed to doing things however I wanted — dedicating my time to ambitions and accomplishments — that I couldn’t imagine there being room for parenthood in my already-busy life.
Likewise, from what I know of my parents’ history, they lived pretty cool lives in a Toronto awash with disco, funk and soul. I’ve seen the photos of my Dad’s full-out afro, rocking the lambskin coat and Firebird as he cruised around the city. My Mom always had love for music and reading, collecting records and hanging out with friends — many of whom she still sees today! They both knew how to have fun and had plenty of it.
Then came the ’80s — marriage, settling down, three boys. The Firebird became a Chevy Oldsmobile; the afro a bald crown of a man older and wiser*; and the nights danced away at the disco devoured by dishes and diapers. Parenthood took the freedom of their former lives and filled them with responsibilities, without any manuals to show them how it’d play out… they too just had to figure it out a day at a time.
*Dad, you’re lucky you read the blog — I’m playing nice! 😉
Parents are people, too. It just took me three decades to realize it.
We spend much of our teenage lives avoiding becoming like our parents, trying to find our own identities despite the obvious pull of our genetic code. Despite friends’ parents stopping my Dad in stores based purely on resemblance and picking up track like my Mom used to run, I swore I was my own person, due to live a life far different from the ones they had.
But our parents are ordinary people just like us — we too will make mistakes, have victories, and annoy our kids in ways only parents can. I won’t be a perfect parent, my son won’t be a perfect child — but we’re all going to grow together and figure it out.
That’s what parenthood’s all about.
Let’s all be better humans,