Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Open Letter to People Without Kids
I am writing this because I used to be the worst. My personality is such that I can't stand having information that may benefit someone else and understanding that keeping it to myself MAY just be the most benefit to that person. I come by it honestly, from a long line of advice-givers.
But here's the thing, no matter how much you have babysat, how many parenting books you've read, how many child development degrees you have, you don't understand. It's not your fault. You can't understand; it's impossible. Forgive us for forgetting that you're often just trying to help. But please don't be hurt when we dismiss your well-meaning advice by saying that, "you have no idea what it's like." It's just reality. You don't have to be a parent to figure out that rear facing car seats are safer for toddlers or starting solids before 4 months can be harmful to health. What you DON'T get is that you're not the one in the car to hear your 1 YO screaming after being strapped in for 3+ hrs on the road because he can't see anything. It's not your neck going into spasm while driving because you tried to reach too far back into his seat to hand him ANOTHER pacifier.
I really was the worst. I have wanted kids since I was like 2, and it did take my husband WAY too long to agree to start our family (ok, only 5 years, so not WAY too long). I read parenting books, listened to parenting sermons before kids were even on the horizon. I babysat, nannied, taught school, even ran my own in-home daycare for 1.5 yrs. I loved it. I knew everything- no really, I did. Only I didn't.
My kids went home by 5 every day. I didn't breastfeed any of them. None of them kept me from sleeping. And that is HUGE. At least for me, when something comes between me and sleep, we are going to have to seriously analyze priorities- only true love will trump sleep. When one 5 year-old little boy got a big gash on his head, I called his mom. That was no longer my problem to deal with. I gave advice to one mom (to be fair, this time, she did ask me) of a 7 MO very spirited little girl to let her cry at nap time when she wouldn't sleep. Problem was, it wasn't MY heart inside that little girl, it was her mom's. It was hard for me to hear her cry, sure, but my heart wasn't inside that baby, slowly breaking (or so it seemed). I could not believe why my family members didn't just "sp@nk that girl more". LOL I had no clue. Neither of my boys have the will and spirit that she has, even to this day, and she has turned out pretty darn well so far!
If you want to help, we would love that! You have incredible influence over children, even if you didn't bear them, AND you have an incredible ability to lift parents' burdens as well.
1- First of all, let me sleep. If you will get up with my child or let me take a nap, you will be the greatest thing that has ever happened to us. We may even start asking you for advice!
2- Take our kids. We will most likely want them back at some point, but all 3 of us win when you take them to do fun things or just to watch for awhile.
3- Know that parenting is harder and more wonderful than you can imagine. Losing sleep (hmm, maybe I have found an idol in my life, lol), discipline, letting them go as they get older, making hard decisions, and seeing them hurt are the hardest things. If you are going to give advice, just try to steer clear of these areas unless we ask out right (and we probably won't, and don't take it personally.) :)
4- When we talk about difficulties, don't try to fix. Just nod and listen.
We love you, and we realize that you can't help that you don't understand. If God chooses to give you children one day, you WILL get it, and you will feel guilty for rolling your eyes so much (maybe that's just me). If He doesn't, you will still have opportunities to invest in the lives of children around you. Take those opportunities!
(Disclaimer: None of these letters are to ANYONE in particular in my life. These are just thoughts I have in general!)
PS- If you wake our kids up, your life WILL be in danger.