Parenting is…

Last night I read this post on Slate.  Then I laid in bed thinking about it, foregoing sleep and wondering if  I was responsible for someone’s life choice of  never having kids.  Maybe even one of you, who knows.   A redonkulous thought, I know.  One with absolutely no proof to back it up, yet if I had read the post correctly (which after a glass of wine it was possible to misconstrue a few things) it was plausible to believe that I could be responsible for someone’s life-changing decision to refrain from procreating.  Oh boy <cue mom guilt>.

I wanted to use my space here to tell Ms. Graham that while I understand where she is coming from, I think she is missing something very important.  Parenting is so much more than what you read in a few blog posts full of inappropriate parenting humor and foul language.  Something that you can’t fathom just from reading the words from a few exhausted parents just trying to survive with a sense of humor and a small space on the interwebz.

Parenting Is So Many Things

Motherhood  Fatherhood  Parenting is:

Sleepless nights.

Smelling the vomit before you even enter the bedroom at two o’clock in the morning.

Stepping on Legos and being impaled by Polly Pockets as you venture to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Asking them five hundred times to pick up their dirty socks.

Wiping asses and sucking snot.

Digging an entire roll of toilet paper out of a poop-filled toilet.

Foot stomping, eye-rolling, door-slamming.

A filthy house.

Finding a years supply of Goldfish crackers and Cheerios in your couches and in your car.

Reminders at ten o’clock at night that they need two dozen cupcakes to take to school….tomorrow.

Rarely having a moment to use the crapper by yourself.

A shit filled diaper that overflows onto your white pants.

Trips to the emergency room for stitches, broken limbs, or worse….

Expensive. Painful.  Heartbreaking.

Parenting is not glamorous.  Not even remotely.  Anyone that disagrees with that is full of shit.  It’s frustrating  and anger-inducing. It is stressful and terrible and some days you just want to quit.

But you don’t.

You don’t quit because despite all the shit (pun totally intended), parenting is also:

Morning snuggles on the couch breathing in their delicious aromas.

Seeing them come back up the sidewalk for just one more hug before they head off to school.

Toothless smiles.

Baseball games in the front yard.

That first giggle and the first time you hear ‘mama’ or ‘dada’.

The endless string of I love yous as you tuck them into bed.

A note of thanks on your pillow when you go to bed.

Celebrating victories and comforting broken hearts after a defeat.

The joy in their eyes as they blow out their birthday candles.

The giggles as they tiptoe up behind you in an effort to scare the bejeezus out of you.

The screams of delight on Christmas morning, or the excitement over four shiny quarters under their pillow.

That moment in which they voluntarily help you fold the laundry or pick up their toys.

The clean bill of health from the doctor.

Dance parties in the living room on a snowy day.

Seeing your daughter watch you in the mirror and tell you how beautiful you are and how much she loves you.

Watching a movie with your son and he reaches over and holds your hand.

Valentines found taped to your bedroom door.

Crazy and chaotic and hilarious.

Parenting is love.

A love so deep it hurts.

A love you don’t want to miss out on.


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  1. I read the same article and also thought she missed the point. First, while blogs are for anyone that want to read them, mommy blogs are, in particular, geared towards other parents going through the same thing. So they can commiserate that their life has become filled with poop. And all the love you describe.
    Often times the things that bring you the most joy also give you the most aggravation. Look at the Olympians- a lifetime of sacrifice for a moment on the podium- you hear the trials of what they go through to get there and do they regret it? Hells no. When they talk about what the life of an olympican being easy? No. It’s hard. They aren’t going to sugarcoat it.Same with parenting- you aren’t going to sugarcoat it- but if it is what you want, you will dive in headfirst, because love.
    In the morning when I leave for work, my daughter often comes down and yell out the front door “see you later alligator!” and I yell back “in a while crocodile”. Best start to a morning ever.

  2. Thank you. Beautiful. It made me tear up at it’s honesty.

  3. I’m really glad I read this today. It’s beautiful. I’ll be forwarding it on to someone who may find it useful as she contemplates whether or not she wants to have kids.

  4. Colleen Ray says:

    I love children, but am childless by choice.
    For fifteen years in my younger days, I supported myself by taking care of day care children, because I just couldn’t see paying a fortune to raise my own when others would pay me well to love and care for THEIR children. I spent those years surrounded by hordes of infants and toddlers, enjoying the best of their babyhood, helping shape responsible, caring children, and was still able to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
    I learned early that ultimately, I’ve always been too selfish to raise children of my own (even dogs are too much trouble — that’s why I stick with cats). If your wonderful, always heartfelt blog posts have dissuaded anyone from having children, then you’ve done a great service, because anyone so easily turned aside shouldn’t have had children in the first place.

  5. That couldn’t have been more perfect, especially for me and all the other parents suffering and maintaining life for their families through this never ending winter. Brilliant!!

  6. So beautiful. So true. I need to pin this for when I’m having a poop/puke-filled day – then I can remember that yes, there is lots of great stuff about parenting. :-)

  7. Nailed it Tara. Thank you for writing this – as a mom of three boys, the absolute highlights of my 40 years of living have to do with them – and some of the hardest days of my life have to do with them. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. xo

  8. Oh how I love this. To try and put parenthood in a box of good or bad is impossible. Your words are beautiful because I know you live them. xoxoxo

  9. As a person who never wants to have kids, I don’t understand what this woman was talking about. If her decision to have or not have kids is based on the blogs, then she’s in for a surprise either way. Kids are like anything else in the world: there are good things and bad things about them. If you understand what the good and bad might be, then you can make an informed decision, but to get your info from what comedians say and how even other parents talk (who are having fun telling gross out stories or who are exhausted because the kids are running them ragged that day) is completely unrealistic. I made my decision long before the internet and blogs and without having read Erma Bombeck! Kids are people, and people are wonderful and maddening, beautiful and ugly, sweet and kind and hideous as well. You have to decide if the good outweighs the bad for YOU and go from there. As for me, I have two cats and a boyfriend, and that’s all the poop and destruction I care to clean up after! lol You didn’t make anyone decide anything, either way, but if your writing could convince someone to not have children, then good. They weren’t that committed to the idea in the first place. I hope you continue to enjoy your kids and especially hope you continue to write!

  10. Beautiful post, Tara, very touching!

  11. “You’re killing me, Smalls.” Immagonna drive over and hug your neck. Beautiful words.

  12. I am already a teary mess today, and you just sealed it, mama. I am bawling. You nailed this. Yes, there are some sucky things about being a parent, but there are sucky things about being in contact with any other human being. But, as you so eloquently point out (coming back up the sidewalk for just one more hug – oh, my heart!), there are some pretty awesome things, too. If the words some writer wrote just to have words to write made you decide not to have kids, well, I guess you didn’t really want kids too badly in the first place. You know in heart that you want to be a parent – good, bad, ugly, gross, smooshy, you’ll take it all. Not loving it ALL is okay, though.

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