Parenting young children can take its toll. Frequent breaks or naps wherever you may land, for even the most “prepared” and dedicated, are often a lifeline - especially for those not used to doing a residency where lost sleep is a mainstay. In those early years, adjusting to such a major life change along with the unique challenges of your particular child (or multiple kids) and situation can be more about survival than parenting. So, when along comes an honest, hilarious tweet that just tells it like it is, we can all be reminded of the humanity - for laughter is often the best medicine. And, there is no more grand a humbler, no more equalizing an experience no matter your age, socioeconomic strata, occupation, ethnicity or particular family make-up than having a baby.
Laughing early and often at the marathon, not sprint of nurturing a newborn from infancy through adolescence into adulthood and every life cycle thereafter is an admirable, worthy way to navigate the most wild of human adventures. Outsourcing the seemingly mundane can be a slippery slope whereby you miss a lot of the good stuff. The glue that keeps you together through hard times. The joy that manifests when digging deep during the rough periods. The foundation that solidifies the lens through which your child sees a rock star, a parent to make proud. These messy, sloppy, often torturous moments may want to be skipped or delegated in their most vulnerable instant, but the rewards and groundwork they position in the long-term help formulate trust, security, resilience, sense of self-worth, reliance and love. These attributes are invaluable.
Scary Mommy, a self-described company offering pregnancy tips and parenting advice for imperfect parents, tweeted the following:
The post, “I practice the reverse cry-it-out method. It’s where my child refuses to sleep and I cry inconsolably,” just cracked me up and resonated so when thinking about practicing in pediatrics. The litany of stories of parents lamenting they hoped to shower and get done for the doctor’s visit, but only managed to brush their teeth while arriving still in their pajamas reflects the reality of this phase. Inside-out clothes, forgotten hospital papers and back-up outfits for public vomiting events created such universal amusement. When stressed and overwhelmed, the value of humor is immeasurable.
The accounts of nightmare stages bond families, parents to their child and to each other. Hiring dream teams to get a child to sleep on a schedule miss the mark and evaporate the ever-important ability to regale the grown child of your parental sacrifice. These are the tales that transcend many generations. Depriving yourself of them by new technological means or alternative efforts limits development for everyone involved.
Calling out the ugly parts of the process by sharing in the difficulties of parenting, especially when performed through a funny approach, is a wonderful coping strategy that your offspring will mimic - boding well for their future. Whitewashing the experience helps no one and escalates the pressure to be perfect. Allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good rarely serves us in the long game. The big picture of an overall healthy family raising a well-adjusted, independent and adaptable adult should always guide your view, especially in those most distressing of moments. The exhausting phases will pass, but how you faced them will fashion your child's outlook - now and later.