Parenting is a tricky beast. I've only been at this gig for five years, but every time I think I have a handle on it, something unexpected happens and completely knocks me off my parenting pedestal. It’s rather humbling. My sister-in-law calls this the “I've got this” moment. That moment when you think you've mastered a parenting skill or successfully taught your child something useful. Without fail, immediately after you have claimed yourself victorious, the world will come crumbling down around you. It has happened to me enough times that I have become wary of calling any parenting endeavor a success, but when I‘m stupid enough to ever think “I've got this,” I’m always surprised to find myself flat on my back at square one wondering what happened. I've found that the only way to survive this vicious cycle of successes and failures we call parenting is to find the humor in it. To ensure I never get too caught up in my parenting victory dance, I present to you my favorite moments where I had the pleasure of eating humble (parenting) pie.
1. If you haven’t heard about it yet, the rumors are true. Eventually, your child will sleep through the night. Really. When my oldest turned one, it happened to me. It happened again when my youngest was about 11 months old. From time to time, they catch a cold or get some new teeth and I have to get up again. These things happen. But at some point, sleeping through the night became the rule, not the exception. Slowly the zombie looking back in the mirror every morning faded into a girl I once knew. For just a moment I took my sleeping for granted. And that night, at exactly midnight, we woke up to the sound of the stereo blaring in the living room. We were panicked that there was an intruder and rushed out to make sure everything was ok. Apparently, my son had accidentally set the alarm on the stereo. Naturally, he slept through the entire thing.
2. Coffee. It makes my world go ‘round. I was preparing to return to reality after a long stay-cation over the holidays. I knew my husband’s first day back to work would be rough for everyone so I prepped the coffee the night before so all I had to do was (bribe one of the children to) push the button. The next morning I poured my first glorious cup, effortlessly. I turned around to tend to something (I have no idea what could have been more important than coffee) and my 18 month old reached up to the kitchen counter and exploded my coffee everywhere. I didn’t even know he could reach that high! So much for being prepared.
3. It was liberating when my son started feeding himself. I could do the dishes, or make myself a cup of coffee while he happily shoveled oatmeal into his own mouth. Ah, the taste of freedom. One morning I caught him eating his breakfast with his hands, practically bathing himself in oatmeal. I scolded him and told him he needed to eat with his spoon. He scooped up a big spoonful, plopped the oatmeal into his palm and licked it off. I guess technically he used his spoon.
4. Those of you who have a boy know that diaper changes can be touch and go. You have to be lightning fast because you never know when your son’s going to go “old faithful” on you and treat you to your first shower in days. When my oldest was just a few months old, he got me TWICE in one morning. Being the amateur that I was, I assumed that there was a one in a million chance that lightning would strike more than TWICE in one day. I foolishly headed out for a little shopping with my bestie and when I was changing him in the car he got me a THIRD time. I wept a little for my car upholstery and then soldiered on. The real pièce de résistance was when we returned home and he peed into a basket of clean, folded laundry, three feet from the changing table. You’ve got to admit, the kid has style.
5. After 2 ½ weeks of bribing my son to do the deed on the potty, he got down from his seat at the breakfast table and completed his business without any prompting from me. I was jazzed. I thought I could officially call my son potty trained. I knew there would be accidents from time to time going forward, but I thought it had finally clicked for him. I awarded him his prize for using the potty and got him ready for preschool. Once both boys were ready, I took a few minutes to put myself together and gulp down my coffee as I basked in my potty training success. And then it happened. Five minutes before we needed to walk out the door number two #2 arrived. In his pants.
In the end, I’m a little wiser and a little more cautious. I know that the moment I start to strut towards the parenting pedestal, I’ll find my humble pie waiting for me.