There is no one activity undertaken every single day that will guarantee a healthy, non-annoying, responsible child. Image: Thinkstock.
Doing laundry for a baby who crapped all over stuff? Yes, you do it out of love, but that’s not what Mom Love looks like in our dreams.
Annoying promoted Tweet that keeps coming up on my Twitter feed:
Here’s a parenting secret: Every day doesn’t have to count. You get to screw up a lot of them and still ‘win’ at this gig.
Think of the alphabet — 26 letters. Do you use them all, all the time? No, you don’t. (I hate the letter K because every time you think of a word that starts with K, you realize you are wrong. That annoys me. And I’m not even getting started with X, the fakest of letters.)
Seven thousand is a lot more than 26. You should not worry about each one of those many, many days. There is no one activity undertaken every single day that will guarantee a healthy, non-annoying, responsible child.
If you spend 24 hours a day with anyone for 7000 days, you will both be irrevocably damaged. I promise.
Super Awesome Moments of Grandeur don't usually make up more than 10% of anyone's time.
Sure. You should try not to suck as a parent.
You will be terrible some of the time, though. You can mitigate the terrible — mean eyes as opposed to fists, for example. One time, my oldest kid was sobbing, and I patted myself on the back for keeping my cool. I asked him what was wrong, as I wasn’t yelling or anything. That’s when he told me I had “angry” eyes.
I thought, You don’t even know how tough life is for some kids. Next thought? Isn’t it great that the worst thing in your life is a mom whose eyes reveal her frustration!
There are some days of parenting that are magical, full of unicorns and four-leaf clovers and lottery winnings. Those are the moments when I catch myself, just for a second, feeling content and happy and looking around trying to freeze things.
Out of 7000 days, those maybe make up five a year. Multiplied by 18... That’s less than 100 amazing days.
If you have really great hair, maybe you’ll have more such days. If you have hard kids, you’ll still have some of the perfect days. Super Awesome Moments of Grandeur don't usually make up more than 10% of anyone's time.
Maybe you think I’m cynical (I am) and mean (perhaps). I adore being a mom 20 billion times more than I ever expected. The shock of my life has been how much I like my kids — now, not just as people who will be fine as adults who don’t live with me.
Even with my utter delight from so much of this gig, I can’t pretend that most of the time is just drudgery.
Doing laundry for a baby who crapped all over stuff? Yes, you do it out of love, but that’s not what Mom Love looks like in our dreams. Same with making lunches, having awkward conversations, signing bad report cards, separating making-out couch couples, and any of the other tedious but necessary parts of parenting.
If you can make it through a thousand terrible days, when you feel like a failure and maybe have been failing a lot, another 5000 days will be a mix of blah and semi-good. A thousand days of your parenting life will involve beaches and snuggles — and sand in weird cracks and your kid wondering what those red bumps next to your nose are.
Then you’ll have a sliver of joy worthy of four days of virtually no sleep. An hour where all of life seems clear and beautiful. A weekend where the universe is aligned and, no matter what has come before or will come after, you are glad to be a parent.
Less dramatic than some big, scary number, perhaps.
But that’s the truth and it is enough.