To my pre-child self:
Well, hello there skinny.
I know that you are wishing that you could lose those three pounds you gained over Christmas, but that’s nothing compared to the weight yo-yo you will enjoy in your child-bearing years.
Find grace for yourself now because you will need it later.
Go buy that cute outfit now. Get dressed up for your husband. In the silence of your home, rest in it, savor it, drink it in and study what quiet sounds like… a storm of screaming, laughing, crying and giggling is just around the corner. Learning to find contentment in your circumstances, will serve you well.
Find grace for your parents.
Parenting is hard.
I know that you think you have all the answers. (You who have not spent one week being in charge of a child let alone raise one to adulthood.) But, until you have experienced three children screaming in the line at the grocery store for yourself, you couldn’t possibly understand.
Stop judging the parenting methods of parents. You aren’t a parent, so assume that you don’t know what you are talking about. Having parents doesn’t actually mean that you know how to parent. In fact, being a parent will just show you how nobody really knows what in the world they are doing. We are all guessing and hoping that something we do is the right thing.
That mom at the grocery store with the screaming kids isn’t lazy or permissive. Her kids might just be tired and hungry. She might be trying to get groceries home before her husband gets off work. Maybe she said “No, you can’t take that candy bar.” And now the child is screaming BECAUSE she’s parenting and not because she isn’t.
(Grocery shopping with kids is the equivalent to having 10 pound weights tied to your ankles while holding a wiggling watermelon in your arms – then try looking at your grocery list and tell me if you actually go home with everything.)
Whatever the trouble, you don’t know her story.
She’s tired. They’re all tired.
Withhold all of your “I’ll Nevers”.
You think now “I’ll never let my child watch T.V. before the age of two” or “I’ll never let my child act like that in public” or “I’ll never let my child eat X, Y or Z”. Just wait, self. What you don’t know now is how deep and wide how gray and fuzzy the lines of parenting can be.
You think that you have all the answers.
Once you become a parent, you will realize how clueless you really are.
Joy, three kids later
Pictured: Me and my husband Kevin in 2007. One year after we were married and two years before we welcomed our first child, Reagan.