Over the summer Betsy and I took the kids to one of those play water parks. We also invited some friends who are expecting their first child soon. Now, I don’t normally bring toys to these places because there’s nothing worse than twenty toddlers that don’t understand sharing attempting to share. It’s meltdown station. But this park is different, it has a cool waterfall that can keep Atticus entertained for days. So, we made the terrible mistake of bringing a few boats to let the kids float them off the waterfall. The kids took the boats out to the waterfall and were happily playing. Meanwhile, another child began playing with one of the toy boats. Noa saw this and decided it was not okay. She promptly removed the toy from the child and returned it to our blanket. We explained to Noa the importance of sharing and told her to give the boat back to the kid because she wasn’t using it. Yeah, I know, she doesn’t give a shit.
We resumed chatting with our friends and I expressed my anxiety over them having a child. I think I actually told them, “I’m kind of nervous about you having kids because I’m afraid I’m going to judge you.”
Let me explain, I wouldn’t consider myself a super judge-y mom. I don’t care how you had your baby: epidural, no epidural, C-section. You want to breastfeed until your kid is five? Go for it. Banning sugar for the first 10 years? Cool. Only dressing your kid in white onesies for the first year? I might suggest a jacket in the winter.
As a very honest friend once said, ‘I was the best parent, until I had kids.’
And I was. I was going to be the mom that had a newborn that ‘slept through the night.’ The one year old that had never experienced ‘screen time.’ The toddler that didn’t scream over broken cheese. Oh yeah, and then I woke up and realized parenting is hard. Like, sleep deprived, postpartum anxiety, who told me this was a good idea, hard. And the things we are judging other moms about have little influence over the character of their children.
I love being a mom. I know every parent loves their kids, but not every parent loves parenting. But I genuinely like my kids. They’re funny and sweet and typically super rad to be around. I had three in four years that should say enough.
They are formula fed, sugar eating, TV watching, co-sleeping kids.
But I intervene when my kid won’t share. I show up daily to teach them how to be good humans. I read with them and we talk about our feelings. We do ‘family hugs.’ They help us build chicken coops. We go on nature walks and treasure hunts. These are the things that have an influence on the character of my children. (Side note, although it probably doesn’t effect your children, you’re a shitty parent if you won’t change your kids shitty diaper. Your partner dislikes it equally as much as you. It’s the first red flag you’re going to suck at parenting. End rant.)
Back to my concern about my friends having kids. Kids add a whole new dynamic to a friendship. We all have our beliefs and parenting approaches. And not liking someone’s kid can break a friendship. It’s like the friend that marries someone that you don’t really like but they’re happy so you try to support it. Five years later the friendship has fizzled away. Now imagine that felling with someone’s child. If you don’t like your kids being around their kids, it probably won’t last.
Every time one of our close friends announce they are expecting, I think to myself, please don’t be the righteous parent. Just be the parent that intervenes when your kid is being a brat, that doesn’t expect someone else to do the parenting. Show up and your kids will be fine.