There are lots of things that suck about being a parent. Diapers come to mind right away, and not sleeping, and having to clean vomit off of carpet at two o’clock in the morning. Also, making lunches every day. That one totally sucks. And eye rolls. Eye rolls suck. Especially when they’re directed at you.
But I’m finding that what sucks the most, for me, anyway, is coming to terms with the fact that, in parenting, there are no do-overs.
It seems to me that every week I read another article about things we should be doing to make our children healthier, smarter, more active, better readers and less obese. And every time, I seem to be just behind the curve.
Remember, years ago, when the pediatricians all announced that children under the age of two shouldn’t watch television? At all? My son was already three, and had been watching TV pretty much since birth. Hello, ADHD!
And remember the plastics scare a few years back, when everyone was checking their Tupperware and their baby bottles for 3s, 6s, and those awful, endocrine-disrupting 7s? My daughter was already well on her way to BPA-induced early puberty by the time I switched to all glass containers and water bottles.
When I was first starting out in this parenting business, there was just so much unsolicited advice and so many books and so many experts telling me to do this or do that, it seemed overwhelming. I distinctly remember making the decision to just tune it all out, and to go with my gut.
There were some things I did right – we never let our kids sleep in our bed, but some of my friends have twelve year-olds still hogging the mattress every night – and there are some things that, I guess, managed to break through the noise. For example, I remember a teacher of a mommy and me class telling me, when my daughter was six months old, to make it a habit of talking to your kids at the same time every day, because they’ll stick with it out of, well, habit. I did that, and eleven years later, my daughter and I still have great, deep conversations at bedtime.
But at the same time, now that my kids are older, I’m finding myself wishing for do-overs almost daily. I didn’t read enough to my son when he was little, and now I can’t ever get him to pick up a book. Do-over!
I didn’t introduce my kids to different kinds of foods when they were toddlers, and now they only eat pasta, pizza and hamburgers. Do-over!
I didn’t set limits on TV watching when they started kindergarten, and now it’s a TV free-for-all in my house after school. Do-over!
If only I could go back in time and force my younger self to take all of the advice that I ignored back then, I could save my children from being ruined forever. Sigh.
But this is life, right? We make mistakes, we move on, and we do the best we can. Our children, no doubt, will at some point blame us for all of their problems, and all we’ll be able to do is apologize for our many, many errors in judgment.
They’ll shake their heads at us and wonder HOW we could have let them watch so much television (mom, I can’t believe I have attention problems because of you!), or WHY we never forced them to eat Brussels sprouts (mom, I’m it’s all your fault that I have a carbohydrate addiction!). But we’ll just sit back, and wait for them to have kids of their own.