Parenthood: Fantasy vs. Reality
Do you remember what you thought having kids would be like, before you had kids?
I have a friend who is really excited to have kids. Eventually. Or tomorrow. To slightly reduce the chances of her hating me forever after I publish this post, we’ll go with “eventually”.
She knows that she isn’t in a position to have a child anytime soon, so I always try to convince her that while she is waiting, she should enjoy this time that her life is still all about her. She does admit that her idea of motherhood is probably glorified and unrealistic. Yesterday, we were sitting outside in the courtyard of the hospital, eating lunch, dangling our legs over the high wall and waiting for public safety to come by as they usually do and yell at us to sit at a table like normal people unless we want to fall and break our necks. ”Here’s how I always picture it, Jules,” she said. ”Going for a walk at the reservoir park, hand-in-hand, pushing one kid in a stroller with another one walking next to it, and all these birds singing and rainbows and puffy clouds in the background.” She sighed. ”It’s just perfect!”
I stared at her. ”Yeah,” I said. ”Sure. Actually it’s just like that. For thirty seconds. And then the baby poops in their diaper and it leaks up the back of their shirt, so you have to change them in the grass and they’re crying because they hate the grass, and ohmygod there’s bees everywhere and what if they sting the baby? What if the baby is allergic to bees?? And you didn’t bring an extra shirt because why would you need an extra shirt for a walk in the park? And why isn’t your husband changing this baby, I mean why do you always have to be the one to change the gross poops? Then the other kid starts crying because she’s hungry, but she doesn’t want any of the 45 different snacks you brought, so you give up on the outing and try to pack everyone into the car, but the stroller won’t fold up for some reason and then you catch your toe in it when it finally does collapse, and then–”
“JULES!” she yelled, laughing so hard she was almost crying. ”Stop it! You are such a little ray of sunshine. Leave me to my fantasies. Besides, my kids will be perfect, and they will definitely never poop.”
I had to laugh at her. ”Okay,” I said, shaking my head, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Later that afternoon, I texted her a picture of Caroline playing with her doll. ”Looks like rainbows and butterflies to me,” she said. ”Sure she’s cute,” I texted back, “but 30 seconds later she started screaming at the top of her lungs and didn’t quit until I managed to get her dinner ready. Just sayin’.” ”In my world she def didn’t do that,” said my friend. ”She danced cutely on a cloud.” I had to laugh. ”In your world, she’s potty trained and sleeps till 9:30 and then brings me breakfast in bed.”
I love being a mom more than anything, but I’ve got to say it’s tougher on a day-to-day basis than I had imagined before I actually had a child. What about you? Is parenthood different from how you imagined it would be?