At one point or another, we all have the need to vent and feel validated, especially when it comes to motherhood. Being a parent is freaking hard, and it’s nice to know there are other people out there who understand how you’re feeling when you’re at your worst. It can lift you up when you find out that they’ve made the same mistakes and had the same victories as you. That’s why articles like, “How To Tell I Just Had A Baby” and “When You Love, But Don’t Like, Your Toddler” exist: to validate you that life as a parent can be messy, frustrating, and exhausting and that’s okay.
But what happens when all we tend to see are the articles focusing on the cruddy parts of having kids? What do the people who haven’t started their families yet think when they hear so many jokes and complaining about their children? Memes like this one:
are meant to be funny, but in the “if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry” kind of way. And all of this talk of little sleep, losing freedom, and toddler meltdowns are exactly why I bawled my eyes out when I first found out I was pregnant with my oldest. Though funny, all of these articles and jokes are not encouraging to people thinking of procreating.
So, taking a break from the self-pity, I’d like to remind myself, and anyone else needing to remember, why being a parent is in fact the best thing to have ever happened to me. Here are my 10 favorite things about parenthood, in no particular order:
- You become someone’s unconditional best friend/hero. The little humans you create will bond to you like no one else. You are the first person they will look for when scared and the only person who can heal their bruises with a simple kiss. As the kids get older, you become the person they seek out for advice, no matter how far they move from home. You’ll be their original and ultimate best friend.
- You’ve created a mini you! How awesome is it that you can look into your kid’s eyes and see your spouse because they share the same color and shape? How sweet is it to have the same smile as your mother, so when she has to pass on from this earth, you’ll still see her whenever you look in the mirror? Being a parent is the best because you are trusted with a special little person who reminds you of all the good things about yourself and your significant other.
- The bonding and love. Having kids is the best because you get little moments that bond you to them stronger than you ever thought possible. Moments like when you’re feeding your baby and he looks up into your eyes and plays with your hair and you just know he loves you, even though he can’t say it yet. Or like when your toddler’s little hand reaches for yours just because your touch comforts her. Parenthood is filled with these amazing moments that add up to create an incredible bond you won’t find elsewhere.
- That crazy, hyperactive toddler will be your playmate, whether you want one or not! It’s hard to get bored when your kid needs so much attention. If you let yourself enjoy the moment, sometimes playing with Oobleck and coloring for hours can be fun! They definitely keep you young.
- The baby coos, smiles, and giggles! The other night, my four-month-old woke me up for his usual middle of the night feeding. But this time, for whatever reason, he woke up and decided to start babbling, instead of crying. It was a great way to wake up for something that I usually have to drag my butt out of bed for, and his little voice is something I’ll always cherish. It’s incredible watching your little mini-me grow, develop and learn. And those giggles and smiles make all the hard parts of parenting worth it.
- You get to use them as an excuse to get out of things you don’t want to do. Sorry I couldn’t come to your cat’s funeral. Billy had a dentist appointment that took forever! Sorry I’m late—kids take forever to load up in the car and then Billy forgot his shoes. Darn, I have to leave this (awkward) family luncheon because it’s time for Billy’s nap! When are we giving Billy a little sibling? Umm…oh no, Billy’s over there eating the crayons, I need to go stop him, excuse me.
- Holidays become more fun. Holidays were a blast as a kid. But you grew up. Santa was just your not-so-sneaky dad. The Tooth fairy became a little creepy (I mean, she collects human teeth!). And Halloween trick-or-treating was no longer acceptable as a high school teenager. But once you start having kids, you get to do it all over again for them! You pick and choose which holiday traditions you want to continue and it’s a blast watching your kids get excited for the Easter Bunny and make Valentines for their classmates.
- You get to live vicariously through them. Now, don’t go crazy or anything, because it’s still their life, not yours. But sometimes, you have the chance to give your children opportunities you never had. Maybe when you were a kid and wanted to take dance lessons, your parents couldn’t afford it. But now, you are financially able to pay for your own children to pursue that. Maybe you never got to travel on family vacations growing up, but now you can take your own kids to Hawaii! This is your chance to enjoy certain things about life that you’ve missed, but in a way where you get to see your children learn, explore, and excel!
- You have someone who forgives your shortcomings and reminds you to do the same for others. Looking through the eyes of a child is a marvelous thing. They typically are so trusting, so forgiving, and so quick to make friends. In motherhood, it’s inevitable that you will have moments of freak-outs and your voice will go a bit too high. You may even scare your child unintentionally. But it’s amazing how quickly that child forgives and hugs it out, because she loves you unconditionally.
- You become a better you. Those little buggers watch everything you say and do. They learn from your example and rely on you for everything. So you find yourself making sure to watch your language, and you quit smoking, even though it’s incredibly hard. You figure out how to explain and teach things you’ve never stopped to think about because your kid keeps asking, “Why?” You sacrifice things you used to love doing, getting to eat your dinners while it’s still hot, and lazy Sundays because you care more about the little ones you’re responsible for. Kids help you become a better version of yourself.
To all my friends and readers who are thinking of having children, try not to put too much stock in those complaining articles and memes. One day, you’ll fully understand why parents need to laugh about potty training accidents and lack of privacy. Anything worth doing will be hard, so of course something as important as being a parent will be one of the biggest challenges you will face. But it’s also one of the best!