We were sitting in a restaurant waiting for our pizza, when a young baby cried out for a milk source. Her teenage big sister gave her a bottle, while the mother was helping the other kids get their food. She did that thing where you look around to make sure you’re not bothering any bystanders (even though when I do that, I don’t really care if it’s bothering anyone, I just like to look concerned about others to cover my bases. There. My secret’s out). She glanced at our family. I smiled and nodded. She saw my two kids and gave me a look that said, “Oh good, you understand.” That was sweet, but it wasn’t a big deal.
I had kids before all my best friends did, so for a small while I was the oddball with a baby. Yet they were so cool and natural and gave me the very best parenting advice. So I don’t discriminate people without kids. In fact, people that already had kids are the ones that gave me the huffy, “Oh you’ll learn,” or the ever irritating, “It’s a blessing,” remarks. Can I get a slice of humble pie to go with a cup of face punch, please? Only buffoons made parenting sound more like rainbows than reality. It’s not awful, but parents shouldn’t be afraid to share reality, like for instance it takes work and isn’t “natural” for all of us. But yes, I have learned a little, and yes, it is a blessing.
Parenting was something I never thought about before having kids. It’s like riding a scary ride at an amusement park. People that haven’t ridden the ride in a while might recall it differently, the ride has changed a little bit. Remember when dads used to be scary? Remember life before the internet? Remember the only person that worked out was Richard Simmons? Times have changed. People on the ride are screaming. They’re just trying to go with the flow of raising children. People in line waiting for the ride are watching the screamers, but hearing Old Man Rivers talk about it. Bottom line: Parenting is confusing to everyone.
Before I was actually on the ride screaming, I was in line. My whole childhood involved babysitting, nursery duty, and helping with children’s ministry. Basically, I thought by being in line and watching the ride happen before my very eyes made me somewhat of an expert. Until I was an older teenager. Colicky babies and toddlers throwing fits didn’t seem very much fun. Coincidentally, My homework picked up, I got a small job, and had to graduate high school. My babysitting days were over. But hey, I was still an “expert” because of the time I put in, right? I quit thinking about ever having kids and went to college. In college becoming a mother was the last thing on my mind. That all changed when my boyfriend decided he was ready to put a ring on his girlfriend’s finger.
Happily married nine years later (as of this month!) she sits typing away on a keyboard with frazzled hair, crooked glasses, and an oily face with a sugarfree white chocolate mocha nearby. She is the truly the happiest she’s ever been, but is fully living the family life. She’s no expert, but she’s doing pretty good. What would married, family life Kasi tell the younger, with no kids Kasi? What should I have done differently? I would probably say this:
Here’s the thing, shorty. Make an effort to take care of yourself physically. Not that you will become a hambeast in the future, but really. Start studying nutrition so you don’t think eating a chimichanga and a Mountain Dew is a decent lunch when you’re 16. Fried potatoes do not count as an equal to leafy green vegetables. Say it with me: Vegetables. Educate yourself in this area, your family will benefit. Learn your finances. It’s terribly unfair for you that Dave Ramsey isn’t a big deal yet, but get wise about saving money and how to handle a budget. Finances can help or hurt a family.
When it comes to marriage, you will have a husband that brings you a sugarfree white chocolate mocha after you fight in the morning, look at your frazzled face, and give you a hug. When it comes to your children, she will have your smile. He will have your eyes. Don’t forget in every stage of your life (both before and after having kids), faith is relevant. Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will happen, a promise for the unknown. And know you always have the choice to choose a better perspective! Even if you do stay the same height for the next nine years.
Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.