My fabulous friend (and also momma of two boys), Christine, did a wonderful blog post about the grass being greener. That, among other things, really had me thinking about parenthood in general.
Yesterday, I posted this on my Facebook page:
“Everyone is the perfect parent until they actually become one. The same goes as you increase children (parents of one always think they know what it’s like to have two and so on…)”
The responses were overwhelming. I really like what my friend, Kim, had to say:
“Self admitted! I was one of them! When I only had Lily she was an angel. So of course, I thought Bruce and I were the perfect parents. Then we were blessed with our little Autumn and our eyes were opened to what parenting is really like! Lily just happens to be a calmer, easy going child. We were spoiled the first time around.”
It was as if Kim had taken the words right out of my mouth. I was that mom with only one child at the grocery store who thought, “Wow, this is SUCH a breeze!” Charlie was easily occupied with the zipper on my wallet, the seat belt clip, and smiling at strangers. I wondered what could possibly make this so difficult.
Then, I met Jack. And well…everything that Charlie made seem easy about parenting, Jack has given us challenges. He’s a climber, explorer, temper-tantrum throwing, occasional non-listener. He is a different child altogether. Our trips to the store now including some schedule maneuvering, packed snacks, and my fair share of them “helping” with loading the groceries on the conveyor belt and pushing the credit card machine buttons. Each outing is planned carefully to ensure that we’ve covered every possible scenario – dirty diapers, hunger, thirst, and the list goes on.
But occasionally, you hit a snag that you never anticipated. I recently took the boys to the park with some friends (one of whom has her own four-year-old AND twins!) For the first forty-five minutes, including the walk there, Jack screamed. Red-faced, sweaty and overall, a bear, Jack finally ceased screaming and began to explore the park. I was exhausted and frankly, hadn’t anticipated such an outburst from him.
My sister-in-law has four kiddos of her own and throughout the school year, she also watches two little ones. Because half of the brood is in school, she has places to be at certain times regardless of the temperaments of the children she has in tow. She has to have eight arms, eyes in the back and sides of her head, and somehow keep every kid happy. It just doesn’t always happen, I’m sure.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the little over three years that I’ve been a mom, it’s that I don’t know everyone, don’t know how their day has been, and just don’t know their circumstance. Perhaps everyone’s having a rough day or she’s been battling a non-listener all day. Maybe she’s tired and stressed and just needs a break! Maybe her kids have driven her to her level of insanity for that day (you know you’ve been there).
The truth is…
You just don’t know.
And neither do I.
Until you’ve walked in her shoes or flip flops or heels, just keep loving your kids the way you do and know that she loves hers too.