There are a lot of parenting misconceptions out there. Those parenting books don’t tell you the truth about what it’s really like to parent a living, breathing child. I think they write about parenting in theory. One of the biggest misconception is that children are supposed to meat some kind of quality standard, like a piece of USDA regulated meat. It’s not true. They are people, not products. If I hear one more new mom tell me what an asshole her toddler is I just might throw up. Look, I have compassion. I really do. I totally thought that my toddlers were both assholes of epic proportions and then they got a little older.
Thinking your toddler is an asshole is the same thing as thinking you are in love when you are 15. You really believe you are but you only think you are because you don’t know what they hell you are talking about. You haven’t experienced the real thing yet. The same way in high school you think everything is so important but really it is the most inconsequential shit that will ever happen to you.
Besides, takes one to know one, right? If you really want to know what an asshole is try having a conversation with an eye rolling tween. There is nothing (as of yet) that is more egregious in parenthood than having a full-grown person talk back to you, roll their eyes and walk away.
The worst part is that my “tween” might look like a big girl but she still has this tiny baby voice and still wants hugs and cuddles but when she’s done with you, she’s done with you. It’s all eye rolls and stomping and looks that say without words, “ You are the stupidest person alive!”, we really should renaming the “tween” years, the “cat” years.
I remember the toddler years. I remember being told, “ I hate you mommy” (I have a feeling that one might be making a come back.) I remember full on tantrums in the middle of the grocery store. I remember wanting to cry because my 2 and 4-year-olds were breaking me and crushing my soul. I had no sleep, the sleep I was getting was filled with kicks to the face and head butts and all day long I was to dance monkey dance. I was the walking dead. I remember their favorite word was, “NO!” The saving grace for them was that they were so damn cute and I just forgave them of all the terrible shit they did to me. And believe me, terrible twos is a myth it’s the threes and fours that you really have to watch out for.
But even with all of that, I remember the random hugs and kisses and all the, “I love you mommy” for no reason at all. I remember the nightly game of, “I love you more.” I remember tiny arms reaching for me like I was salvation and soft cuddles that made my heart explode. I remember all of that. I never forget that.
My theory is this, kids are born so ugly that they are cute and we have so much love for them that it almost kills us. The thought of losing them is crushing and losing one can nearly kill you, at the very least makes you wish you were dead. Then they become toddlers and they do become little terrorist assholes but they are now so cute and have those cute voices and say the sweetest things that we forgive them all their transgressions.
As they enter preschool and elementary school, we love them so much it is almost unbearable to let them leave us for the day. The letting go is awful. We sulk and cry and then we enjoy every moment we get with them after school, watching them blossom into amazing, smart, funny little people. Sure there is whining, interrupting, sibling squabbling and for some reason they never want to go to bed and use more toilet paper than is humanly possible but overall they are awesome.
Then they hit the tween years and they become eye rolling, gum popping, Justice wearing, whining, 1-D loving part-time strangers. Some days they are your baby and the others, they are some sort of wildebeest in designer clothing. One minute they want to tell you everything and the next, they eye roll you to mind your own damn business. Still, I enjoy the moments when we have real conversations and I love that she is at an age where she wants to dress and be like me. Not like an adult but actually coordinate with her mom. It makes my heart all squishy. If only she knew this power she has over me. Shhh, let’s keep that under wraps.
Then, they become teens. Hormones are out of control and they quite frankly are nowhere as cute as they were in the early years. Bad skin, awkwardness and bad attitudes prevail. You are basically financing them but are not entitled to any interaction (that costs extra, my friends). It’s like trying to get the girlfriend experience from a hooker, all that extra money but still, no fucking kissing on the lips. None of it’s real. They hate you and, truth be told, you don’t particularly like them either. You still love them but they are not your favorite people.
Then sometime around senior year, they turn back into normal human beings. They’ve finally got the hang of those damn hormones and they’ve probably had a crisis or two enough to know that you are not going anywhere but now, they are leaving you. My theory is that the only reason moms and dads don’t drop dead on the spot the minute their “babies” go away to college is because of all the growing pains we experience when they are tweens and teens. The pain is necessary to lessen he blow when they have to leave us.
This is my theory and I’m sticking to it and every time my tween rolls her eyes at me, I feign irritation but inside, I’m thanking her for making it easier to let her go in the end. For now, I will take every single kiss, cuddle and eye roll and cherish it because one day she might be across the world and I’ll be longing for the days when I could see her face and when she say, “ I love you,” I’ll always know that I love her more.