Parenting Fantasy Vs. Reality

Everyone knows that the best parents out there are those who have no children.  I was an amazing mom before I had kids.  I was going to do this, that, and the other thing, but nothing makes you abandon that shit faster than when you are up all night with a sick baby or come home from work exhausted.  The last thing you want to do is be a parent, so you let Mickey Mouse take over.  You feed your kids Spaghetti O’s for the 5th night in a row because you just can’t deal with the fight (oh you are well past being surprised at the part where you actually bought a case of Spaghetti O’s in the first place).  Imagine my surprise when I realized that having kids is absolutely NOTHING like the fantasy I had in my head.  Some parts might have a glimmer of that dream I envisioned like when my 2-year-old tells me he loves me in his sweet little voice and melts my heart.  Or when my 4-year-old says laugh out loud, hilarious things and I think how wonderful it is that I successfully cloned myself.

However, my fantasy of parenthood was shattered when my 1st son was born.  Immediately.  Having felt like I’d been hit by a truck and then thrust into never sleeping again can make a person come back to reality fairly quickly.  However, I still have those fantasy visions or viewpoints as each stage moves along, but sometimes I wonder how I could have ever been so naïve.  I mean shit, what twenty something, not a care in the world girl, wouldn’t dream about the adorable little cherubs I would have one day.  They would dress like Gap models and spend countless hours playing house in the basement while I had coffee dates with my friends.  Instead, my kids look like extras from “Oliver” and they have played by themselves exactly ZERO times in the basement while I drink my luke warm, borderline cold coffee, alone.  Not exactly how I thought this would go.  Sometimes the fantasy is a lot more fun to believe, but for those of us on reality island the difference may look a little something like this:

Grocery Shopping Fantasy

My children would sit side by side in the grocery cart, possibly holding hands, as we stroll down every aisle looking at all the marvelous things we will buy.  We would talk about what colour all the fruits and veggies are while strangers comment, not only on how smart my kids are, but how every well behaved too!  Naturally I feel like that compliment is all about me as I am the reason they are so smart and polite.  Every shopping trip will be a new lesson on healthy foods-today we are learning all about amino acids!  Each child will be allowed one “treat” at the end of shopping, which will obviously be an organic, gluten, GMO free, bag of mini carrots.  Delicious!  The trip will end with my kids helping mommy pack the groceries and wave bye bye and blow kisses at all the adoring grandmas in the checkout line.

Reality

My children will begrudgingly sit side by side in the cart and continuously push and shove each other to see who can make the other one cry first.  I storm through as many aisles as I can get through before having to resort to handing out snacks like my kids are collecting candy in a parade.  As I am making it rain cookies, I get a collection of food, mostly snacks and cheese, and make my way to the checkout. The 2-year-old starts trying to crawl out of the cart as I realize I forgot to get yogurt tubes and bread.  I don’t really care and will have to do without.  I can hear my children screaming at each other and yelling at strangers, but I’ve come too far to turn back now.   I load the groceries while my kids throw all the checkout gum and chocolate on the floor.  Before paying for my overpriced collection of Bear Paws and wilted lettuce, I apologize to everyone in the checkout for my kids spitting bubbles at them.

Meal Time Fantasy

Every night my children, husband, and I sit down to a lovely meal of super healthy meals with seasonal vegetables as the focal point.  Naturally these vegetables would be from my own garden/backyard greenhouse.  I also pay for what should be a new family vehicle on grain fed, hormone free beef that I am certain is what is served when the queen comes to town.  We spend the meal discussing our day and when I ask my 4-year-old what he did in preschool that day he tells us in detail all of the activities he did and what he learned.  I am always so amazed at how well he is learning to read and write at such a young age.  Look out Doogie Howser…there will be a new 16-year-old doctor in town (LOL…but really I’m serious).  My children always finish everything on their plates and have taken a real liking to salads.  I am also very impressed with how patient they are while I prepare all my meals.  They sit waiting patiently making homemade placemats.

Reality

When we walk in the door at the end of the day my kids immediately demand milk and crackers.  I have tried explaining that dinner will be prepared shortly, but this is like explaining to me how our tankless water heater works…I do not care.  While I try my best to make two completely different meals, I find it difficult with a 2-year-old hanging on my leg demanding I help him put together a 3 piece Thomas the Train puzzle or he will self combust.  When I finally have the sad adult supper of boiled eggs and figs and the child supper of Kraft Dinner and chicken nuggets with strategically placed veggies hidden inside so I don’t feel completely worthless, the 3 of us (me and the kids) start eating as my husband is enjoying his life stuck in traffic.  I spend most of the meal trying to prevent the 2-year-old from shoving food up his nose and asking my 4-year-old about what he did at preschool to which I get my most favourite response of “played”.  At the end of the meal my kids have complained about everything that has ever happened to them and I die inside when I see that most of meal I “slaved” over is littered under the table.  I then tell them that they need to eat as there are children starving in Africa who have bugs in their eyes because they don’t have the strength to close them.

Playtime Fantasy

Days with my children would be spent singing songs, making crafts, doing educational puzzles, and exploring nature.  We would operate on a stitch routine of healthy meals and snacks, nap time, outdoor time, and structured play time.  They would watch very little television and have limited screen time.  30 minutes max and it would only be educational programming or university level calculus on the I-pad.  I mean they will be busy with their organic vegetable garden and building their own playhouse out of things they find on our nature walks.  My kids will be each other’s best friends and I will tell them often how wonderful it was of me to provide them with a bestie for life.  My kids will play so well together that I will often find them cuddling and giggling while taking turns with their toys.  We will also go on so many outings and adventures…every day will be something different and fun!

Reality

Days with my children will be spent looking at the clock until it’s naptime and then again until it’s bedtime.  I will try and get them to make crafts (no glitter, no glue, no markers…other than that go crazy) and play with the mountain of toys that they have and do not appreciate.  Again I’ll throw in the cliché about African children wishing they had a Paw Patrol lookout station, but all they have is rocks.  Then my 4-year-old will produce a stash of rocks he has been collecting for months and keeping under his bed.  Point taken.  I need to have a shower so I put on the tv to babysit my children so I stop looking like a homeless person and I could care less what they watch.  The only show I can’t stand is Caillou (or as I call him the “animated douche canoe”), but other than that, if it’s a cartoon and you stare at it mindlessly so I can stop smelling like I have been in a lagoon for a week, it’s all good.  I will spend the better part of the day wondering why I wanted my older child to have a “cage match partner for life” because that is literally what they are.  They throw their toys at each other and cry endlessly wanting what they can’t have.  I think about taking them out of the house, but then my 2-year-old lays on the floor crying about pudding being too warm and I think better of it.  Maybe next year will be the year we make it to the museum.  I wonder what tomorrow will be like and then I remember that everyday is exactly the same.