We all make mistakes as parents. It’s just part of the deal. But what most new parents don’t realize is that the most far reaching, life-altering mistakes you make are not things like putting a diaper on wrong, poorly baby-proofing your house, or choosing a sippy cup that leaks. No, the biggest mistakes are always the most well-intentioned.
Here are a few regrets that you should have, that should keep you up at night with worry about how you broke your child.
Seven years ago, my wife Anna and I celebrated our honeymoon with a trip to Orlando and a week of fun at the Disney parks there. It was a great trip, and we loved every minute of it.
But there’s just something about going to a Disney park with kids, that makes the whole experience just more magical, in a way that’s hard to appreciate otherwise. Isn’t there?
This parenting thing can be pretty tough in a lot of ways.
Whether it’s the late nights and constant diaper changes of little ones, the day-to-day frustrations of trying to teach a toddler how to be a kind and respectful human being, or dealing with teenagers who simultaneously depend on you for everything but feel they need you for nothing. Parenting is tough.
But one of the toughest aspects, for me, has been how to be gracious with those who don’t stop to think about what they are saying when they comment on my being home with the boys.
In general I think I’m pretty good at it, by which I mean I look for a kind and non-confrontational way to answer a question or respond to a comment. Sometimes the best way is to smile and say nothing. Other times the right words come. And sometimes I stumble over my answer or say the wrong thing.
In my mind, I usually know what I would like to say, hoping that my snarky sarcasm would get the point across. But I don’t say it, because far too often snarky sarcasm looks suspiciously like being a jerk, which is sort of the opposite of being gracious.
To that end — and to get some of this off of my chest — here are some examples of what I would like to say, but don’t, in no particular order…
No one makes change on their own, but small voices together can make big changes.
A clever graphic can explain and spread an idea faster than a hundred well thought out blog posts.
A petition’s worthy cause isn’t newsworthy, but a petition actually working? Oh yes.
Dads’ voices matter, and more and more people and corporations are recognizing that.
Sometimes recognizing good intentions and maintaining respectful dialogue gets better results than demonizing.
More men than you would think are not just unoffended by dumb-dad stereotypes, but invested in them continuing. Mostly to get out of diaper duty.
The greatest advocates that dads can have is moms. Until moms demand better of advertising in how they portray dads, it won’t really change.
The most reluctant to give up their stereotype about dads is . . . also moms. Some seem more interested in protecting the freedom to mock their husbands’ parenting abilities than in helping their husband be a more able, involved parent.
No, seriously, there are actually people out there in the world who are so loyal to their brand of diapers that they will send you hate mail for daring to make a complaint about them. Whodathunkit?
I have a thicker skin than I thought.
This past weekend a friend and I embarked on a father-son overnight tent camping excursion; he with his almost-four-year old and I with my recently-three-year old.
It’s something we’ve talked about doing for a while, and really wanted to do it now, the idea being we could get it in before it got too cold and we’d have to wait for spring or summer. We knew it would be chilly, but I did plenty of winter camping when I was an active Boy Scout. No problem.
Little did we know, Saturday night would see the lowest temperatures around here since last March, dipping down to 22°F during the night.
The phrase “we barely survived,” in retrospect, seems like hyperbole, but it was definitely how we felt at times.
This is what I learned:
I love my son so much.
He’s simply an amazing little boy, who I fall for again, every single day, no matter how much he exhausts me or frustrates me.
He turned two a couple of weeks ago, and I am constantly being reminded that he is no longer a little baby any more.
It’s great seeing him learn new things as he explores his world and gets better and better at communicating. I love watching him grow and push his limits and delight in figuring out how to do something he couldn’t before.
But sometimes I miss the Good Ol’ Days. Back when was still our little baby…
It occurred to me the other day that this past week marked the one year anniversary that my family and I moved across the country from greater Seattle, WA to Lehigh Valley, PA, where my wife had been offered a job. How time flies! We still miss the NW like crazy sometimes, mainly the people there, but we’re thankful that we’ve met so many wonderful people here and can honestly say we’re much more settled now.
What hadn’t really occurred to me was that it was only a few days after we arrived here that, my wife having started her new position, I officially started mine as the day-to-day, full-time, primary caregiver for our son.
And so to celebrate Tucker and my First Anniversary together, I humbly present the . . .