Dear Parent of Young Children,
You are amazing – an ordinary person taking on an extraordinary role. There’s not much that can adequately prepare you for the change of everything that is thrust on you when a small person enters your world. You find yourself facing scenarios that you could not have imagined pre-kiddo. Like, that time when you went to a friend’s house for dinner and found it difficult to concentrate on conversation, because something distinctly smelt like poo. Everyone was chatting, and all you could do was nod and smile while your head was trying to Sherlock the birthplace of the malodour. You were hoping like heck it wasn’t you. Perhaps it was the dog? Oh, please Jesus, let it be the dog. But it wasn’t the dog. Your very own human puppy had left a schmeer on your pants, and was found happily eating his dinner and depositing his payload on a lovely and expensive, fabric-covered dining chair.
Or that time you woke up from a nap to discover that your five-year old had hacked his coif with a pair of paper-only kid scissors. You were tempted to garb your mini Lloyd Christmas in a shirt that said, “I did this ↑ to myself” but you didn’t because it would’ve been cruel (obvs) and also, future therapy sessions… so you sucked it up, and began to learn the difficult lesson that your tiny humans have an independent will, make their own decisions, and not everything they do is direct reflection on you.
And you most certainly will never forget that ill-fated trip to Fred Meyer two days before Christmas. You dropped your little love at the playland to at least alleviate some of the stress of holiday shopping, and headed off into the mass of humanity to complete your task. That’s until you got to aisle three and your heart sunk as the Christmas music stopped and you heard, “Would the parent of <insert name here> please return to the Playland”. That was bad enough, but on the way to the childcare, your blood positively froze as you began to hear the name of every.single.child subsequently called out for their parents also to return. It transpired that your resourceful wee lad had thought the carpeted corner of the room would make a fine urinal and the whole place had to be shut down for an hour while sanitising measures took place. And as you took the walk of shame with your stinky bundle past the other parents in line, you made a decision about the sort of person you are going to be – not the person giving you daggers because your kid ruined their child-free shopping experience (because clearly you had spent months training your child to find creative and inconvenient places to pee), but the person who gives you a knowing smile, because they know, it’s probably their turn next, and we’re all in this together.
No-one ever tells you that you will scroll through Insta pics of child-free people posting pics of themselves at spendy day spas with captions like, “Taking a much-needed self-care moment.” And it burns, because the only self-care moment you can hope for right now is five minutes in the loo without several knocks on the door and at least one piece of artwork being slid under the door for your critique. But they also never tell you of the restorative powers of a small body leaning in for a cuddle while a tiny arm hooks around your neck.
People will tell you things like, “It’s totally fine changing a nappy when it’s your own kid.” But then you discover, it’s not fine. You discover a deep hate for poo outside the watery confines of the toilet, and your reaction if some gets on your skin is just like you’ve been smeared with Ebola. But then you slowly begin to learn that doing the things you don’t like on a regular basis builds character in the way that nothing else could.
So, fellow comrades in the trenches, take heart. You are not alone on this crazy, exhausting, incredible and humbling journey. I have no doubt that Jesus cheers you on as you undertake this most important of roles. You are loved, you are seen, and you are doing a great job.