It’s been said that you never truly know what love is until you’ve had children. Without a doubt, I’ve found that to be true. However, there is a flip side to that coin. You’ll never truly know what frustration is until you have children.
I’m talking about the frustration that comes from the inexplicable nature of why children do the things that they do. The frustration that stems from a child reaching up to touch a hot stove mere seconds after you’ve told them not to because it will burn them. I’m talking about the frustration that stems from a toddler coloring on the table next to a blank piece of paper. The frustration that creeps into your skull in the form of a headache as an overtired child refuses to lay down and go to sleep despite the fact that they are obviously exhausted. Literally the only thing that you’re trying to do is keep these tiny little versions of yourself alive and relatively happy without destroying everything they come in contact with, yet they seem hell bent on doing everything in their power to thwart your efforts.
Why? Because let’s face it: children are terrible humans.
Let me clarify. I’m not talking about their inherent goodness. I’m not talking about an abundance of malice. They’re just simply terrible at being humans.
How could they be anything but? They’re new at this whole being a person thing. Empathy, impulse control, common sense and logic are all veteran moves. They’re life skills that come from a healthy mix of guidance and life experience. Our frustration comes into play when we attempt to apply what we’ve learned through years of experience to our children’s thoughts and actions.
I’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice before a person becomes an expert at something. The same can probably be said for learning to human. Even then, we still manage to mess it up from time to time. Hell, I’ve been eating for almost 35 years, yet I still manage to bite the inside of my mouth from time to time.
So what can we do as parents? The first is probably stock up on booze and ibuprofen, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The second is to just try and keep things in perspective. We need to remember that while we are the grizzled vets, our children are the wild and reckless rookies on our team. It’s up to us to provide the proper guidance and opportunities for the life experiences required for basic human’ing.
Another thing that we can do for the sake of our sanity is to admit that parenting can be a frustrating process. There is definitely an unspoken pressure to constantly think of the parenting process as nothing but sunshine and rainbows. Some days, parenting will feel like the best decision you have ever made. You’ll experience the purest love that you’ve ever felt. Your child will say or do something that will make you truly feel like you’re doing everything right. Other days, you’ll be so frustrated that you’ll lock yourself in the bathroom and fantasize about becoming the captain of a charter boat in Zihuatanejo.
The positive is that hopefully, the good moments will outshine the bad. After all, they do eventually learn how to human… or at least that’s what I’ve been told.