What I’ve Learned After Three Years Of Parenting (Spoiler Alert: It’s Nothing)

June 26, 2014

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Three years ago today, at 12:23am, I began the journey known as “motherhood” or “constant worry and disturbing smells.”

Waylon took his time coming out; 24 hours of labor and screams my dad could hear in the waiting room. The whole thing started out sweaty and weird and has continued as such. In the first few weeks I thought anal fissures would be my worst hurdle, but now I have a three year old and know better. Whoever coined the phrase “terrible twos” had clearly never met a three year old.

I do like it for the most part. Kids can be very sweet and charming despite their tendency to wipe boogers on your favorite sweater. I especially enjoy their post bath smells. If you have never been high, just smell a clean baby’s head. It is kind of the same thing.

I knew the most about parenting before I was a parent. You know how it is. Lots of theories and opinions. Then when I actually birthed a human, I realized I know nothing and have maintained my ignorance ever since.

Of course experience does teach you a few things. Like how you can measure a mother’s day by what word she utters when stepping on a toy at 6:30 PM. Or how to effectively remove grape juice from white carpet (move couch, make margarita). But when it comes to the fundamentals of parenting, I stay mum. Every kid is different, every parent is different, every day is different. We do the best we can. In the great words of Maya Angelou, “When you know better–do better.” You can write that one down.

Watching your kids get older is hard. I cringe whenever I hear myself say ” please don’t grow up,” because I should be grateful for kids healthy enough to grow. But recently I’ve realized what I really mean when I say “please don’t grow up” is “please don’t forget.” Please don’t forget these small hands and eager eyes. Please don’t forget the tiny house made of paper clips and blue pinwheel garden. Please don’t forget the weight of a toddler nestled on my body, skinny arms wrapped around my neck.

Last night the three of us sat up talking about the night he was born. All cozy on the porch, watching the lightning and lightning bugs light up the sky.

Please don’t let me forget.

Happy birthday to my first, sweet, impossibly impossible baby. You are loved.

***

06.26.11 was a good day. Three years later.

a

22 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned After Three Years Of Parenting (Spoiler Alert: It’s Nothing)

  1. Gesci

    Happy birthday to Waylon, and congratulations to you! (I always think parents deserve a congratulations on their kids’ birthdays, I mean, they’re the ones who’ve been doing the really hard work!)

    Reply
  2. Christine

    “But recently I’ve realized what I really mean when I say ‘please don’t grow up’ is ‘please don’t forget.’ ”

    It’s so true. And it is a fact that 3 year olds are the worst. Insert margarita.

    Reply
  3. Kaly

    ugh, that video. Just when I resolve to put the camera down…I see something like that and I want to just record everything. So beautiful. What do you use for video?

    Reply
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  5. Kellie

    I sent this to my daughter in law…who is the momma to my precious 9 month old grandson… Your “advice” and “parenting truths” were spot on from my perspective. I still don’t know anything and my boys are 17 and 25…

    Reply
  6. Jennifer D

    You write like I think and I love it! My skinny 3yo is currently snoozing next to me on the couch and I definitely know nothing. Just today I thought I should probably purchase some sort of parenting book to help me figure this out, but now I don’t know which book to buy. So I texted my mom and she told me to eat some chocolate and pray. I ate an unholy ton of chocolate and I think I pray nonstop- sometimes out loud (“Please Jesus let us make it through this day!”) and sometimes quietly (“Why did you give me children that hate tv? What do you want me to do with them at this point??? Send me a sign!! Or turn this water into wine please!”). All of that to say, newest follower, and fellow know-nothing parent. :)

    Reply
  7. cynthia

    Aww, such a sweet video, and a sweet boy. I don’t think I know anything either, after just 13 months. Strangely it doesn’t seem so bad knowing I’ll probably feel the same in 2 more years! hahaha
    Happy Bday to you both! :-)

    Reply
  8. Virginia Jones

    I remember cuddles after nap time and the tender quiet moments of my sons 3am feedings; my toddler daughter’s hilarious infatuation with the mirrors at the mall; the sweet little handprints on the sliding glass door that I refused to clean; toothless grins; giggles that made my heart sing….My sweet babies are all almost grown now, and our first grandchild is on the way. My heart aches at the thought that it is all gone, but new life is coming, so we will begin the beautiful adventure of chaos and wonderment once again.

    Reply
  9. Jenny

    My children are now 13 and 8 years old. And although I’ve learned plenty of things, I know nothing. Here are some of my lessons learned.
    1. One day those kids will stop smelling sweet. You will stop feeling high when you kiss the top of that child’s head after a bath, and instead feel rage, because this is the fifth time in two weeks that you’ve had to remind your child that if they don’t smell like shampoo coming out of the shower then you already know they haven’t washed their hair, so lying will only get them in trouble. And they will lie anyway.
    2. They will not only ignore your requests to stay little but will grow up even quicker because of it, I’m sure. While washing the dishes one evening after dinner, I nearly jumped out of my skin after hearing a deep manly voice coming from my basement. I grabbed a weapon (a knife sharpener of all things), as I descended the stairs I heard him speak again and realized it was just my son. Who apparently became a man in the time it took to eat dinner.
    3. Unless you have lists for everything, and you’re mindful enough not to forget them on the kitchen table (for the last 13 years), all the clerks at your local grocery store probably know you by some terrible nickname they’ve all picked out for you. Awesome.
    4. Mail. Unless it’s deemed important enough to view right away, it usually gets forgotten about until the envelope starts to yellow and you figure whenever is inside no longer applies to you before it ends up in recycling. I wonder how many free trips I’ve passed up.
    5. No matter what you do, no matter how good you are, at some point those kids are going to hate you. And not like your three year old meltdown version of hate, like the you should be afraid version of hate. It’s OK. Let them hate you. It usually means you’re doing it right. Odds are, the love they feel hidden under their tough act is enough to keep you safe. If not, then you were doing it wrong.

    Reply
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