A Letter to My Pre-Parenting Self: "You're Kind of an A-Hole"Lauren Hartmann
Dear Pre-Parenthood Lauren,
You’re kind of an a-hole. That may sound a bit harsh, but I can explain, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be in agreement with me soon enough.
Think with me if you will about those times you’ve silently judged other pregnant moms. Not just any pregnant mom, but the ones who actually dared to go out in public while looking a hot mess in hoodies and yoga pants and hair that hadn’t been brushed in who knows how long? Sure, it’s not a very cute look, but guess what? That just might be you one day. Maybe not during your first pregnancy when you have little responsibility and a 9 to 5 job to get ready for every day, but the second time around… when you have a super needy toddler attached to your hip? Yeah. That’s totally happening… minus the hoodie and yoga pants (only because you don’t own them). But you’ll definitely look like a hot and tired mess (Makeup? What’s that?). Pregnancy with a toddler to chase after is no joke. You’ll probably feel pretty accomplished if you remember to put on clean underwear most days, so you may want to get that judgment in check. Just sayin’.
Remember those times you complained about those parents whose children screamed on your flight? Remember how inconsiderate you thought it was? Yeah… let’s fast forward a bit. You have a 20-month-old sitting on your lap on a flight to California — a flight that you so carefully orchestrated to coincide with naps and bed time and that has now been delayed for three hours. When you finally board that flight, that 20-month-old will proceed to scream and cry for the entire 2.5 hours that you are stuck there. And there won’t be a thing you can do about it, because sometimes, no amount of snacks or toys in the world are enough to comfort a crying baby. It will feel like purgatory. You will be mortified and you will totally get the side-eye from some of the other passengers. It will make you feel like a crappy, terrible mother, when in reality it’s just a crappy, terrible situation. You may want to consider giving those fellow passengers who are traveling with children a bit of grace, because trust me: They’d rather be flying alone too.
Now let’s talk about grocery stores and how you threw some pretty heavy shade to those parents whose children were melting down in the cereal aisle? Remember how you thought to yourself, “I’d never let my kid behave that way! Why don’t they just leave and come back when their kid can behave themselves?” Well, just a few days ago, during your weekly grocery run, your 2-year-old went nut-so and screamed in the middle of the store. You came prepared. You came during the time of day when your child was supposed to be happiest, and you brought snacks and distractions, but they were no use. Your toddler wanted you to “fix it Mama!!!” Fix what? You weren’t entirely sure, and despite asking at least 15 times, you never found out. She just kept repeating herself and when you said, “What do you want me to fix? I don’t know what you want.” she just kept responding with, “You know Mama! You know!” But you didn’t know and you were totally out of groceries, so you had to just push through despite the embarrassing stares of onlookers. Does that give you a bit of perspective?
What about that mom who yelled at their child on public transit the other day? You were shocked and appalled. How could she talk to her child that way? Well, a day will come when you too may have a similar breakdown. Perhaps it won’t be on public transit, but it will come nonetheless. It won’t be your first resort, but after telling your toddler to stop climbing on the couch 18,000 times or having one too many healthy meal attempts thrown on the floor, or one too many drawings on your walls… maybe a culmination of all these things in a single day… one of these days you might yell too. Or maybe you might not yell, but at the very least you’ll probably break down in a heap of tears because you are so incredibly exhausted and overwhelmed. You never know what happened in that mom’s day. Maybe her dad died and her son had 100 tantrums about the same thing and she was pregnant and exhausted… and only after that did she reach her breaking point and yell. She may have felt really awful later once she regained composure and had a heart to heart and apologized to her child. You’ll never know. But know that there is a little more humbling than having to apologize to a 2-year-old for behaving badly as an adult, and this is a humility you will definitely experience, so think it over.
Raising children is no joke pre-parenthood Lauren. It will take you places you never thought you would go and make you eat your words. Your kids probably won’t want to eat those healthy, organic meals that you have painstakingly prepared for them. You swore you’d never have picky eaters, but at some point you’ll probably feed them mac and cheese or raisins or whatever other random food they’ll agree to eat, simply because you are tired of the struggle. It will be a humbling moment. There will be days that you’ll have to remind yourself why you had kids and days when you’ll just want to yell or cry… or both. Your children will likely embarrass you on countless occasions in public, and people will probably think of you as that parent sometimes. It’s kind of an inevitability.
You will love parenting though. It will be the most rewarding experience of your life, and you will adore your children and love them beyond anything you can possibly even imagine. I promise that it will all be worth it.But… in the mean time… maybe you should try to practice a little more grace and understanding with the other parents around you and maybe stop acting like such an a-hole. Some of them are probably struggling, and I guarantee you’ll be there too one day.
Think it over.
Your Future Parenting Self