When you’re in the midst of all those sleepless nights and food wars, it can seem like you’ll never get out. Guest editor AfroDaddy delivers some truth bombs.
I was pushing both my children in their double stroller up the road. The pavement needed some work, so pushing the 18-month-old and three-year-old in that wide, cumbersome contraption was literally and figuratively an uphill battle.
I must have looked especially forlorn or frustrated or haggard (probably all three), because when the kind-looking older gentleman approached me, he immediately said, “Rough morning?”
“Yup, these two have been keeping me on my toes since 5.30.”
“Ah, well. I know how it goes – my two are teenagers now. Ja, they’re almost out of school.”
“Oh. So you can answer this: does it get any easier?”
I knew, deep in the back of my exhausted brain, that I shouldn’t have asked him that. I know what some older people can be like – always trying to make their lives seem so much harder than it actually was, either to impress us or scare us.
So I knew I probably wasn’t going to get the answer I was hoping for, but at that moment, while functioning on a few hours’ broken sleep and having dealt with one too many hours of toddler conversations, I was desperate for some light at the end of the tunnel.
Unfortunately, and predictably, he said, “Not at all. It just gets harder and more complicated. Good luck.” And with a wry smile he carried on with his day.
I wish that I could now say, a few years down the line, that he was wrong. I wish I could say that as your kids grow and develop your life will become easier and more manageable. I would be lying if I did. Wait! Before you become as disheartened as I was, that old guy was only half right, because he left out a very important fact:
It might get tougher, but so do you.
That’s pretty amazing, right? Being a parent can have the remarkable effect of making you better than you thought you could be, faster than you thought you would. And you don’t have to be a parent for too long to know that what I’m saying is absolutely true. Even after the first month of parenthood, things that you struggled with at first start becoming second nature.
For example, let’s talk about the number one issue parents complain about: sleep. Before kids, the idea of consistently functioning on four hours of broken sleep for months or years on end would have seemed like impossible torture to me. Now I’m like, “Four WHOLE hours? How extravagant!”
You just find that you have more resources than you knew you had, and that you were far tougher than you knew. I think many of us have been told that true success comes from looking forward and never looking back, but after a few years of parenting, I have to disagree. I think when we get a little scared of what’s ahead, the best thing we can do is look back and see how far we’ve come and how strong we had to be to get here.
So if, one day, a young parent asks you, “Does it get any easier?” don’t say what that old guy said to me. Tell the truth, rather: “No, it doesn’t. You just get better.”
Terence Mentor, aka AfroDaddy, is the father of two boys, one adopted, and blogs at www.afrodaddyonline.com.