Why All These Kids?! a few suggestions for surviving parenthood
Except for letters telling me how great the website is or how cute I am (which I of course love!), the subject I get the most emails about is how difficult it is to be a parent. Funny, isn’t it – it’s what grownups want most badly, what they spend the most money on, what they care the most about… and then it’s what they complain about the most! (They’re so silly – what I want most badly is Pizza, what I spend the most money on is nothing, since Handsome never gives me any, and what I care the most about is… well, Pizza. But what I complain the most about? That’s easy! If you can’t guess, I’ll give you a hint: They have pointy ears, a yowling voice, and they climb trees – especially swiftly if they’re being chased by me!).
But I guess I do understand. I’ve written on here before about how I was a very difficult puppy. I was super-hyperactive, and full of energy all the time. And that energy all went into one thing: DESTRUCTION! I destroyed a fence, clothes, plants, newspapers, and – just once – an old record album cover (Oh I still get chills when I think of how mad Handsome was about that one!). And I was constantly biting, pulling, and scratching Handsome. It’s just amazing he even kept me around long enough to grow up.
Really, there were only two reasons he did: First, he had faith that I’d mature eventually. And Second, more importantly, he loved me just as much as I loved him, which was crazy wild over-the-top love. It’s just that I think it was a little easier for him to love me when I was curled up asleep and looked all cute and innocent, than when I was awake misbehaving like the cartoon Tasmanian Devil!
But that only lasted a year or so (okay… maybe two or three). Puppies grow up a lot faster than humans. So what are parents supposed to do when the beings they love the most, who they devote their lives to, just drive them nuts?!
There are thousands of books on this subject, and of course I can’t begin to approach all the information in those. But from what I’ve seen, I can give a few suggestions. Again, this isn’t about how to raise kids – it’s just about how to survive it!
First, you’ve got to do something just for you. It’s great if your kids like doing some of the same things you do, but what is there that you can do without them? Get a massage? Go on a date? Listen to music they can’t stand?! They’ll still be what you care about the most, but you need time that isn’t focused on them. (And it’s part of their necessary development to experience that space with you away, even if they hate it as much as I hate it every time Handsome leaves me alone). Just make sure they’re safe, of course.
Second, vent! If you have a friend you can commiserate with, that’s great, but if not, just find a place you can yell, and scream it out! People always think dogs are barking to tell each other things or scare off intruders, but sometimes we’re just yelling to the sky, “He can drive to buy a Large Pepperoni Special with Extra Cheese, but I can’t, and that’s so unfair!!!”
And third, I really urge you to find a Community of Parents. If you have a group of other parents you hang out with, that’s great. If not, maybe you can find some old friends on Facebook who are in the same place you are. But the other thing you can do is find some websites that serve as online communities. Now of course, you’ve already found one, right here – but AskShirelle is all about your kids; what about a site for parents?
First, and you probably already know some of these, there are local sites that can help you find other parents and exchange information (and venting) with them. Two of my favorites examples are Jen’s List (http://jenslist.com/) and Peachhead (http://www.peachheadfamilies.com/). These are both for parents in Los Angeles, California, but there are probably sites like them where you live (though I think getting the Jen’s List daily newsletter might be good wherever you live!).
Then there are also blogs where parents just gripe about it all. One of my faves, actually created by one of our Pack members, is called (love this!) Sleep Is For Wussy Mamas! (http://www.sleepisforwussymamas.com/Site/Moi.html). Lots of very fun stuff here.
But if I had to pick one best parent site I’ve ever found, it’d be (another great name) Mammakaze! (http://www.mammakaze.com/). It’s not only got funny autobiographical griping, but also lots of links to news stories, other websites, and even songs and video clips.
If you hang out at these sites, or other ones like them from your local area, I’ll bet a lamb chop you’ll feel better within an hour. (And for those who worry that all these are from Los Angeles, and think I’m actually a suntanned, plastic-surgeried, bikinied, bleached-blonde, dark-glasses-wearing movie star… Naah, I just have friends in LA. Besides, dogs can’t tan!)
And after you take some time for yourself, and you vent, and you interact with that community, you’ll probably be able then to go back to those misbehaving, fighting, screaming, lamp-breaking, wall-writing, button-pushing monsters of yours, and feel your love of them with every beat of your heart. At least for a while.
And then, when you find yourself like Jimmy Stewart in that movie when he barks out “You call this a happy family? Why do we have to have all these kids?!”
At which time, you’ll know it’s time to go back to those three steps… again and again and again. It’ll seem like eternity. Until that one day, when those kids are all grown up, and you stand back and wonder, “How did that happen so fast?!”