Monday, September 8, 2014

An Open Apology to Parents from My Pre-Kid Self

Today a beautiful thing happened in my life. It was something that made me feel excited, giddy, and just plain glad to be alive.

I went grocery shopping by myself.

Let me say that again:


As in, I was alone. As in, there was no toddler with me. As in, there was no one precariously grabbing glass jars off of shelves. There was no one asking me 500,000 questions while I'm just trying to get in, get what I need, and get out. No one was stripping off their socks and shoes and leaving them strewn about the store aisles. No one demanded a box of snacks or cookies and then screamed when I told them no. I got a latte before I started. I read the peanut butter labels and figured out the difference between "Natural" Jif and "Simply" Jif, and I actually got everything I needed on the first time through the store. I took my time shopping and still finished in less time than usual.

It was grocery shopping as it was meant to be: shopping for groceries. Nothing more, nothing less...and it was divine. And I am not a person who generally enjoys food shopping. The whole meal-planning, list-making, shopping, loading/unloading, putting-away, cooking thing usually makes me want to vomit. So for me to say that I enjoyed this shopping trip should really tell you something. 

Now, lest you read these words and think I am exaggerating, let me be very clear: I am in no way being sarcastic about how wonderful this experience was for me. This is where the apology comes in. You see, in my 30 years on this earth prior to having a child of my own, I secretly (and often unknowingly) judged parents who said things like this. Some part of me assumed these parents were exaggerating or embellishing to make a good story. I mean, who thinks grocery shopping is a vacation? It really can't be that hard to go to the store with your children, right? And if it is that hard, doesn't that probably mean that you're doing something wrong?

To my shame, I silently judged these poor parents and thought that there was no way their sentiments could be as valid as they proported. I was WRONG. Dead wrong. To whoever you were: I am sorry! It was out of sheer ignorance that I thought you were embellishing or playing the martyr. I know better now.

This is one of the beauties of parenting: it has made me so much less judgmental about other children and parents. In my pre-kid days I didn't realize just how much subconcious judging I did. On some level I thought parents should be able to control their children (HA!), that a child's disobedience was just poor parenting (HAAA!), and that somehow as an outsider I had a better perspective than the parent did and could probably offer them some good advice (BAAAAHAHAHAHA!).

I am not proud of those things and am so thankful for the pruning that is beginning in my heart to trim off some of those prideful thoughts. Do you need to plop your kid in front of the TV so you can get just a few precious moments of silence? More power to you. Is your kid 4 years old and not potty trained? It will happen - she'll do it when she's ready. Do you sometimes have to bribe your child to do simple tasks? Go for it. Do you sometimes placate your demanding child because you simply cannot take one more second of that peircing high pitched whine? You go, girl. No one - NO ONE - knows better what is best for the child than his/her parent or caretaker. And sometimes, what is best for the child is actually is what is best for the parent, or the older sibling, or the family as a whole. And unless you are this child's parent, you simply do not know all of the factors contributing to the 1 gazillion choices you must make for each child every single day. I'm so glad I know this now.

Being a parent is maturing me, broadening my horizons, showing me how to better love those around me, and causing me to just plain GROW UP. Some days I think I am raising my daughter, and then other days I realize that it is really she who is raising me. Thank you for showing me the way, Sweet Girl. I'm deeply grateful for this life-changing journey, this grand adventure, because I still have so much further to go.

What about you? How has your perspective changed since becoming a parent? Are there things you do now that you swore you'd never do?

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