When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided I would keep working. My job as a writer/editor enabled me to work from home, and, while it didn’t pay a lot, it did provide decent insurance coverage for my family. My husband, then an independent contractor, also worked from home. Our ability to work where we wanted and flexible schedules, in theory, gave us the perfect scenario for keeping our jobs while raising our children.
Before my baby was born, I arranged, what I thought at the time, was a pretty sweet setup. I would work from home four days a week and come in to the office for one. I could be at home with my child and still work. On those days I had to be in the office, my husband could take care of the baby. What kick-ass parents we would be. Killing it in the workforce and as parents.
I love my children unconditionally. I imagine most parents and other caregivers would agree our children could do very little to lose our affection. They will test us, absolutely, but, we will remain steadfast in our devotion.
Our children earned our love the moment they entered our lives. They owe us nothing. They need not prove a single thing. We chose them. Whether by birth, adoption, or act of faith or circumstance. We asked for them, and they answered. We owe them our love.
Thanksgiving is nigh, and that means lots of articles, essays, poems and prose on all of our blessings. I am, of course, grateful for my two beautiful children. I could write a whole post about how wonderful they are, and most parents would nod in agreement. We can like and share the precious moments and everyday gifts, gushing about our little angels.
But, what about the things us parents are really thankful for. You know, the stuff that probably won’t make the greeting card aisle. I thought those things are worth celebrating.
My youngest is 19 months old and still breastfeeds. I know writing the word “still” might seem both absurd and shocking depending on who you ask. This is what is working right now, so for me, this is normal. Like with most things related to my second child, I have much firmer, I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude regarding the parenting of my children.
My oldest was weaned very gradually, starting from the time he was about a year old until he was off my breast by 20 months. It was a gentle process that utilized the support of those closest to me. And, while, my son was/is a high needs child, having no other children to care for at the time meant I could focus my energy on assuring his needs were met beyond our nursing relationship.
My youngest son has different needs. In many ways, he is less demanding than my oldest. He was never the type of round-the-clock feeder. He also easily adapted to his role as the second child and the divided attention that is part of the deal.
I wanted to start this post with a clip from “Sex And The City.” Unfortunately, my countless searches on YouTube never yielded the needed results. Instead, bear with my summation of a particular scene, which until recently, I had know idea how on point it was on parenting.
In this scene, baby-obsessed Charlotte is visiting an unintentionally pregnant, and not-exactly-enthused-by-impending-motherhood Miranda at her apartment. Well-meaning Charlotte begins to lecture her friend on parenting, even suggesting a good spot for the crib. She proceeds to ask Miranda what type of mom she plans to be. To which Miranda has the perfect response?
Once you reach a certain age, you need to adhere to an accepted level of adulting. Sure, it would be totally fun to sit home in a robe all day drinking White Russians, but we can’t all be “The Dude.”
Society expects something of us grownups, and we can’t get away with the stuff we did in college and our 20s.
There is however, one exception. Parenting. Yes, having children entitles you to a hall pass for screwing your responsibilities. While most folks would not get away with these bad habits, somehow, those of us with spawn are not judged (or at least not as much).
*Parts of this story were exaggerated for dramatic effect.
Anyone who has ever cared for a preschool-aged child knows the feeling of dread that comes over when said child needs to use the bathroom and there isn’t one in sight. Three-year-olds don’t understand the concept of waiting for anything, let alone a toilet, so you plan accordingly. You make sure they go before you leave the house. You bring extra clothes, just in case. You scout out the bathroom situation of every park, rec center and play space.
No matter how well you prepare, inevitably you will face potential potty pitfalls. Such was the situation I found myself in while attending the New York Renaissance Faire.