Posted on | December 5, 2013 | No Comments
Sometime when I wasn’t looking, or maybe I was, my son turned a corner. He slipped right past baby and into toddler and then seamlessly, breathlessly, and unexpectedly into preschooler. And along with the stinkier feet (SERIOUSLY?! How do they smell so bad??) and the full and complete sentences and the crazy and amazing imagination, he carried me headlong into a world where parenting is nothing like it has been for the past four years.
For a while, parenting was about keeping him safe, clean, and fed. Full stop. Change diaper, give bath, give bottle or food or hugs and tuck in at night. That was it. If I could avoid dropping him on his head and could manage to keep his bottom rash-free then I was doing a bang up job at this whole parenting thing. Sure it was hard… sleepless nights, so many “needs” that I couldn’t interpret because all the cries sounded alike. But it was PHYSICALLY hard. It was a chore of endurance, a labor of who can outlast the other… who needs less sleep… who can function longer without clean hair.
Then, unbeknownst to me, it slowly evolved. The physical tortures of babyhood gave way to the new physical tortures of toddlerdom. The accidental head butts, the kicks, the full speed ahead barreling runs at your midsection…. it was still 90% physical… still 90% exhausting on my nowhere near toddler body. Just when I thought I was toughening up, just when I believed I was getting the hang of the bruises and cuts and muscle aches, everything changed. Parenting went from being 90% physical to 90% mental and let me tell you something… there is nothing more exhausting than an emotional and mental battle with a four year old.
Things you would normally say “Gross” to, you have to nod and smile and explain. Things that make you want to giggle have to be stone-faced. Things that make you want to scream or cry or throw up your hands and say “I QUIT” must be met with a calm smile and a calm “no.” Then you throw in the whole fact that I have a boy with a penis… something I know little about… and you have me at a complete and total disadvantage when it comes to answering questions, dealing with drama, and properly explaining … well… anything.
The “mentally challenging” portion of parenthood, as my sister so aptly put it, has begun in our house. And I am not all that sure I’m up to the challenge. I can no longer laugh at fart and poop jokes because then my child takes them to school and I get the stern look from this or that teacher or parent. I probably need to stop saying “Boobs” and “booty” since my kid now yells those out like curse words. The “I hate you” and “I don’t want you to be my mom” statements now have to be calmly responded to with an “Okay.” or an “I still love you, though” even though every ounce of me wants to scream “FINE THEN GO AHEAD AND STARVE!” like the Beast in the Disney classic.
The physical part of parenting got easier, even as my child grew bigger and stronger. This mental part? I’m no longer sure I’m all that up for the challenge.