Parents Are People, Too (aka A Good Ol’ Fashioned Guilt Trip)

Every so often I check my site stats to see which blogs are being read and shared and what search terms lead people to my blog. (I think a lot of lonely young men attempting to buy their own batsmoke leave my page disappointed.) I can see at a glance which blogs are the most popular and which blogs you are sharing with friends.

Most of my blogs are about parenting and all of the wonderful things that go along with that like cleaning the house, cooking dinner and trying to explain why I don’t have a penis. Those blogs are, by far, the most popular. I also write about movies I like or do not like and I suppose eventually I will write about books again and there will be a lot of blogs about The Bar and live music. Those blogs do not get read as often or shared as much but I will continue writing them. I write for me but I also write for you and I think you need the blogs about music and movies and drinking as much as I do.

Becoming a parent changes everything. It’s a cliche because it’s true. Humans, in general, are self centered. That’s not mean or a negative outlook on humanity, it’s just common sense. All of your most basic instincts are cleverly designed to protect you. Until you have a child. Between your biological urge to protect your child and society pressuring you to do so and do so better than anyone else, it is very easy to forget that you still have needs of your own. When taking a shower becomes a task you have to schedule, finding time to nurture your talents and explore hobbies can seem like a luxury.

Some time after Goldy and Beauty were born, but before my divorce, I discovered that I was boring. I didn’t do anything worth talking about and I didn’t have anyone to tell even if I did do something noteworthy. It would be easy to blame my ex-husband because he did instigate my isolation but it wasn’t intentional and I let it happen even though I know better. Lucky for me, he still had friends and one of his friends was still into girls (that is a whole different blog for another day) and he brought over my future best friend, H-Bomb.

It’s amazing what one person listening can do for your self esteem. My Ex had forgotten who I was before I became overwhelmed with parenting and house work. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though, I stopped reminding him. I suddenly understood all possible meanings of the phrase, “I need to find myself,” which I had always thought was complete hocum. How do you lose yourself? Now I know how very easy it is to lose track of yourself. Hint: You will not find yourself at the bottom of a pile of laundry.

No matter how deep the pile, you will not find yourself at the bottom.

Having someone to listen again made me want something to talk about. I didn’t want all of my fun stories to be about the past. I wanted to read books that weren’t by Mercer Mayer and go places that weren’t family friendly. I wanted to put on lipstick, not chapstick and paint my own nails, not my daughters’. I wanted my own life.

If any of this sounds familiar or you are nodding your head then you are the one I’m writing for. You need support. You need a friend to listen. And you need to know that it is okay to be a parent and your own person. It’s not only okay to have a life outside of your children, it is necessary to be a good a parent. You cannot be your best self if you are only focused on your children. You need a hobby. You need a night out. You need a shower. No really, you need a shower.

I often hear new moms say, “I don’t even have time for a shower!” I feel your pain, I do. Put the baby down and go take a quick shower. Yes, he might cry and you might feel guilty but when you are done you are going to feel so good.  Babies sense your stress and discomfort. They also sense your peace and happiness. Be at peace, be happy. It will be easier to get him to latch on or fall asleep if you are not a sweaty ball of nerves. This gets harder as the kids get older. Cages are frowned upon so you will need a good support system, but you not only deserve it, you need it.

 

We went out last weekend on Little S’ birthday. Without him. We spent all day with the kids and then took him to Grandma’s house after dinner. We have karaoke every Saturday at The Bar and our karaoke jockey was having a birthday party. We’ve only owned The New Bar for 6 months so it is important to be present, to meet people, to interact. We also had friends playing in bands on the other side of town. The Barkeep helped set up one of our friends, an old local music connection of mine,  on the bill at the last minute, so we wanted to see the show. I met a fellow at The Bar that night that asked about my kids. When I told him it was my youngest baby’s first birthday he told me I should be at home. Now, you might agree, but I want you to flip the phrase around in your head awhile and ask yourself why I needed to be home with a sleeping baby on a Saturday night when I had so many other options and a trusted babysitter. In case he wakes up and wonders why his Mommy went out on his birthday? This is your first baby, isn’t it?

People might make you feel guilty about pursuing your own interests. You might make yourself feel guilty. Consider this, it is our job to model the behavior we want to see in our children. We cannot raise well rounded people if we feel like half the person we used to be. We cannot encourage them to cultivate their talents and nurture their ideas if we are ignoring our own. We can’t teach them to explore hobbies if we don’t have any of our own. Humans have an actual need to share and enjoy themselves.Why do you think Sims have a social meter and an aspirations meter? They are based on us! (And now you know one of my hobbies…) Our children need us to remember that we are all people, too. Our children deserve to be raised by well rounded individuals.

If none of this convinces you then I have one last thought, a question actually. Think of your child’s favorite activity. Goldy likes writing. Beauty likes fashion. Sharkboy likes constructing. The jury is still out on Little S, he seems to enjoy dancing and eating. What does your child enjoy? Do you do your best to encourage that hobby, take her to lessons, buy the necessary tools and praise liberally? Do you want him to give it up for anyone, ever? Or do you want him to continue building on that interest and learning new ones as he grows?

At the core of everything we want for our children is the same basic premise. We want them to be happy. Set a good example for your children and remember, your parents wanted you to be happy. Don’t let them down.

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Sharkboy’s Potty Training Chronicles – Part 2 – Who Has A What

Today Sharkboy followed me to the bathroom so he could potty, too. We go this way a lot. I have to pee so he joins me and I nearly pee my pants while helping him get his down.

We have had a lot of talks about who is a girl and who is a boy because he had trouble with pronouns. Goldy is a she, Daddy is a he, etc.  We have never discussed the difference in our anatomy, though. It’s just never come up. Until today.

Me: Are you going to pee? You’ve been sitting there awhile.

Sharkboy: Yes. It’s in my peepee.

Me: You feel the urine in your penis? (I don’t care what he calls it but I like to use the correct terms sometimes so he knows what they are.)

SB: Yesss. There is pee in my peepee. Is there pee in your peepee?

Me: No, I’m done, see, I’m wiping.

SB: You don’t have any pee in your penis?

Me: I don’t have a penis.

His face went through a series of expressions from skepticism to confusion to concern in a matter of a few seconds. Meanwhile, I am pulling up my pants before he decides to check and washing my hands.

SB: Where is your penis?

Me: Girls don’t have penises. We have…

SB: Peepees?

Me: We have vaginas? Not really though. I mean we do, but we don’t pee with our vaginas. We have vulvas, I guess.

This is my best friend H-Bomb’s fault. I raised two perfectly healthy, self aware daughters using the term vagina to describe female genitals for potty training but all it took was one harmless, honest question to throw me off. She texted one night to ask me the correct term and I wasn’t quite sure. Obviously.

SB: Where is your penis.

Me: I don’t have a penis. I have a vulva.

SB: Noooo! Silly goose!

Me: No really. Boys have a penis and girls have a… I guess it’s a vulva. Or a vagina. It’s complicated.

SB: Where is your penis?

Me: I don’t have a penis, I’m a girl. You have a penis. Daddy has a penis. Brudder has a penis. You are all boys. (It was at this point I realized that even though he joins us in the bathroom sometimes he has never seen the difference between boys and girls. A penis is slightly more obvious than… whatever girls have. He used to watch me change his brother’s diaper but he has never really seen a naked girl. I mean, he’s two.)

SB: Brudder is a boy. He has a penis.

Me: Yes!

SB: You have a complicate.

Me: I have a what?

SB: You don’t have a volvo, you have a complicate.

And that, Naptime friends, is how Sharkboy discovered the real difference between boys and girls at the young age of two. Boys have a penis and girls are complicated.

Click here for Part One