An important lie has been preserving our race for many generations; one that all young couples have been telling themselves, hoping only for the best: “when we become parents, our kids will never behave this way”.
Like everyone else, I fell for this lie. I believed it and nurtured it for years. This was only natural in a world where cute baby pictures are present everywhere. Magazines and retailers showcase the best of babyhood with the most adorable kids, the most stunning nurseries, the cutest little outfits, the addictive powdery baby perfumes, and the softest nursery rhymes. With this, all our senses are submerged and programmed to expect only the best of parenthood: a sweet world where babies are adorable creatures that do nothing but sleep and smile.
Anyone who has moved to the other side of the fence, the one known as parenting, is well aware that this sweet powdery version doesn’t exist.
In the real world, no babies are constantly giggling and no parents are lucky enough to spend a whole day kissing the little chubby cheeks of their precious angels. Instead, babies are programmed to keep their parents awake, stressed, wondering if they’re doing the right things, and submerged in the tender perfumes that their babies’ bodies produce (vomit and poop).
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The truth is no books, videos, groups or advice can prepare parents for what is going to happen to them once their babies arrive. Parenting is a self-learned process that each person has to discover one step at a time. With this, most parents, including myself, find themselves fighting a battle that they did not anticipate and were not ready for.
That’s where the problem starts.
Somehow, in the confused, sleep-deprived, anxious minds of the parents, the new enemy ends up being the baby. Parents at this stage live in denial, finding it hard to accept that the little sweet baby that they’ve been waiting for is turning into a much challenging “project”. This can happen at different stages: for some it is immediate, as soon as the sleepless nights kick in, for others it’s when the baby gets sick for the first time, or when the baby starts to move around the house, or even when the housework caused by the baby never ends. For me, it was when my baby turned a little over one and started having an opinion. Up until that point, she was just a sweet chubby smiling face who seemingly learned overnight to build an opinion.
For one full year I thought I was in control of parenthood until I realized I was not, and, like most other parents, I prepared myself to fight a battle to ensure harmony was preserved in my household. I had to keep up with my old assumptions that my kids would never behave like other kids—a silly challenge that was hard to keep up to for a very simple reason: it doesn’t make sense.
Little did I know that I was fighting the wrong enemy.
It took me another pregnancy to understand that point. By then, I had finally found harmonious communication with my daughter and I started worrying about how the second baby would affect the coziness of our little cocoon. My daughter had become more expressive and patient, and dealing with her opinions was not as challenging as it first was. In other words, I had survived the battle and came out of it sanely. My daughter as well.
At that point it hit me: that old slogan I mentioned above that couples tell themselves before having kids was just a lie. All babies and kids will eventually have bad days, stress out their parents and have tantrums. Similarly, all parents learn how to adapt to their new roles and evolve with their kids’ needs—and that is precisely what parenting is about.
With this thought, I had decided to create a new slogan that would fit better with my life as a parent: “I’ll find a way to survive it.” I’ve always had and always will.
Parenting isn’t about the kids or their parents. It’s not about having one side against the other. It’s about the family and the way it functions. Colic, sickness, tantrums, frustrations, anxiety and hesitation are just some of the many faces of parenting. Other faces include laugher, joy, adventures, fun and games. These are the real reasons why so many people risk the potential horror of having kids. This is what has preserved our race for so many generations.
A happy child is one who lives in a harmonious family, one where each individual member gets to express and share his or her own opinions and where parents learn how to fight the right battles—as, in the parenting world, battles never end.
With this revised perspective, the real enemies that we need to fight against are not our kids, but ourselves.
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