When I was a little girl, my family and I were caught in the midst of Hurricane Alicia which killed 21 people and caused over 2 billion dollars in damage. It was terrifying to be sure; but I was a naive kid, so it was also very exciting. The grownups were absolutely horrified, but my cousins and I were thrilled. The electricity went out, so we ate by candlelight. Cool. And, the house was flooding, so we got to walk on the furniture and watch cars float by our front windows. Awesome! When all was said and done, my uncle even bought my cousins and me our very own “I Survived Hurricane Alicia!” tee shirts. I suppose it all came down to perspective. Even the adults, once they felt the relief of actually surviving the deadly storm, could look back on it with a sense of consolation and some sense of gratitude. Parenthood is a lot like an endless string of storms. How you react to them depends a lot on your perspective.
Early one morning when my twins, who’ve blessedly survived lo’ these ten years, were still little, they decided to let Mommy and Daddy sleep late and make their very own bowl of cereal all by themselves. They got the biggest bowl they could find, which happened to be one of Mommy’s mixing bowls, along with the biggest spoons they could find, poured in an entire box of Fruit Loops, doused it with an entire carton of milk (most of it made it into the bowl, yay!), and voila! Believe it or not, these lil’ helpers were actually surprised to find out that Mommy and Daddy weren’t nearly as thrilled by what they had accomplished as they were.
And this, my friends, is what parenthood is. A vast series of shitstorms, both small and large, to be battled and, if not necessarily won, at least survived. These days, most of my storms take place around the company of teenagers. Of which, as of last count, I have four. Parents, be warned: the anxiety and angst that you most currently felt over and about your child isn’t going to end. So, brace yourself, Baby. If it’s not the seemingly endless Gordian knot of potty-training or the endless Battle of Bedtime, it will be a boundless barrage of parent-teacher conferences, coaches who are honest-to-gawd assballs, raging hormones, broken hearts, and bullies.
The good news is that the storms change and you can, Lord willin’, adapt and overcome. Being in the unique position of having bookends that are both pre-school and young adult, I am thankfully able to remember the relative ease of pre-school anxiety at the same time I am able to remind myself that the misery of adolescence is survivable. Unpleasant perhaps, but survivable. If we’re lucky, one day we’ll be able to look back on all that we’ve survived and smile with the satisfaction of knowing we earned our “I survived Parenthood” tee-shirts. Best of luck to you and yours! In fact, God help us all.