My, my…those DINK days of Double Income No Kids…
BrightSide and I were so busy planning our future family, negotiating positions on chores and allowance, discussing how we’d handle our hypothetical children and their hypothetical discipline. We were oh so confident in our philosophical certainties. 100% secure in the knowledge that we had this parent thing on lock.
I’ve already written this post about the intrinsic value of lies in the parent-child dynamic. There’s no way to calculate the actual number of hours this one parenting hack saved me through the toddler years, despite my pre-kid tenet that honesty (without exception) is always the best policy.
Today I thought I’d share a few other DINK ideologies that found themselves shifting under the weight of reality once there were flesh-and-blood kids on the scene.
* I’ll never curse in front of my kid.
I hardly know where to start with this one. I mean, never? For real?! To my credit, I did an excellent job with this while the kids were little. Despite somewhat hawkish oversight by a certain somebody who shall remain nameless, I did indeed manage to hold my tongue around the youngsters. (I believe “shoot!” became a go-to exclamation for a while.)
Well, what do you know, those kids actually went and grew up so the situation’s changed. It’s not like I’m dropping f-bombs on their delightful tween heads, but I don’t beat myself up if something smaller slips once in a while. They’re probably hearing much worse on the bus. Plus there’s something to be said for shock effect. The day I’d had enough and finally told my kid I didn’t appreciate being treated like crap? That one definitely made him sit up and take notice.
* If I provide a variety of fruits and vegetables they’ll eat a well balanced diet.
Ummm, nope. To be fair, having a bowl of fruit on the counter does increase the odds that T-man and Bear will actually consume some kind of fruit as opposed to subsisting solely on, say, the carb-fest in my pantry. But I had some sort of Mary Poppins fantasy in my delusional, DINK brain…it had little birds fluttering through the kitchen, balancing a colorful tray of veggies and dip, with eager hands reaching out for broccoli and carrots and cucumber slices.
Oddly enough, reality looks nothing like this. I’ve learned the hard way that if I buy certain fruits or vegetables they will simply sit and slowly rot until I’m forced to throw them out, muttering glumly about wasting perfectly good food. I can put out three fruits for breakfast – all fruits I’ve witnessed my children eat – and two vanish with mind boggling speed while the third languishes in its bowl, the kids avoiding it like the plague.
* No topic is off limits.
Okay, this one is actually true, but I was definitely not prepared for the anxiety levels I would reach while discussing them. Many of these topics are horrifyingly embarrassing. Horrifyingly embarrassing. And we haven’t even hit our hardcore teen years around here yet. Sheesh.
* I won’t lose myself in parenting.
When I hear prospective parents make this statement now, I simply smile and nod. Who am I to burst their bubble? Babies are a treasure. A joy. A blessing beyond measure. Watching them grow into the people they’re meant to be is a real honor.
Babies also manage to suck every ounce of energy out of you, body and soul. Children do the same thing – different needs, granted, but same result. A constant drain on your reserve 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Little people are exhausting.
It’s impossible to become a parent and not lose yourself for a while. I disappeared into years of feeding schedules and diaper bags, playtime and preschool and outings. It took me a while to get my head back in the game, though I hear some people come out of it quicker. We all lose ourselves in parenting…the trick is coming back into yourself again.
They say you don’t know what you don’t know, and that’s for sure true when it comes to parenting. I know I learn a little more every single day.