Kassidi Stynnett
December 9, 2023

Parenthood is Forever

Much like the stages of life that you’ll never get to experience twice, there are stages of parenthood that you try to hold onto desperately, but they slip through your fingers faster than you can process them. My child is currently experiencing toddlerhood and I’d take the newborn stage any day over a tiny human tuning into my every move. It’s astounding to see them string together full sentences or pronounce words like ‘disgusting’ with ease, when it seems like they were just too young to hold their bottle up to their lips. 

The word toddler should be an example under the word duality in the Oxford dictionary. They want their freedom, but they still want their parents/guardians too. They will kiss you and turn around and have a fit because you ran out of apple juice and had to substitute it with lemonade. They will want to be with you while you use the bathroom, but they’ll need privacy during potty training. They remember everything you ever said, and they do not sleep. While loud, I do admire the tantrums because they are truthful; meanwhile adults have tantrums every day that just manifest in road rage, passive aggressive remarks at work or procrastinating on anything important.

Also, I’m sure adults forget to view life through the lens of a toddler. They run the show, but they don’t truly have a say so in much. Their entire life, at least for the first five years, is a crash course, immersive experience on “how to human”—and to be real, everyone is winging it. Imagine being an infant and going to sleep with warm milk and mom’s heartbeat to waking up strapped in a seat, in a moving car and shoes on your feet. Imagine spending every waking moment with your mother and father [or family] and having to go to daycare at two months old because the government and companies love the idea of kids but wash their hands at the monumental undertaking it is to sustain their well-being, and yours.

We expect toddlers to flow when we can’t even truly flow. The powers that be expect parents to work full-time, boost the economy, pay mortgage prices for childcare while paying mortgage prices for a shoebox to live in, and not lose it. 

I think why parenthood is so glamorized, is because people want the solidarity once that decision is made; additionally, I believe parents, mother’s especially, must dissociate from the reality of the hardships that come about during the transition to a parent:

  1. You will never sleep as well as you did before kids ever again.
  2. There are days, in the early days, where you literally do not shower because there is that much to do.
  3. You start to not care about what you look like when you do get to leave the house.
  4. You lose your identity for a bit because people will only ask about your kid. 
  5. You lose your memory (this is a scientific fact, Google it).
  6. The way you and your partner relate to one another changes, even if you have the best relationship, it WILL shift.
  7. Your friendships change significantly.
  8. You must relearn how to prioritize yourself so you can show-up for your kid and other people in your life.
  9. Your kids illuminate your weaknesses like no other.
  10. You will completely leave your comfort zone and you may never get it back.

Just like toddlerhood is an immersive dumpster fire of love, parenthood is too. You wouldn’t trade it for the world, but you would just for a couple of days on account of some contrived normalcy you used to have in your former life. It’s the best of times and the worst of times; but you must try to be present because you both will never be here again. What you do now shapes their whole life, and it shapes the relationship they will have with you when they grow up and how they will treat/relate to the people they will have in their life. It’s the scariest conundrum you will never solve. You just learn to do your best. 

I’ll end this with the things I’ve made it a point to do since becoming a mother to a toddler, specifically:

  • I apologize if I lose my temper because it happens.
  • I talk to my child like a human, rather than baby talk because I remember being three years old and understanding much more than adults thought I did.
  • I’ve talked to my child about adults who can be inappropriate and how I’m a safe space.
  • I tell him when I need a break and I am teaching him about physical boundaries.
  • I’m teaching him that it is okay to cry, but you must communicate.
  • Again, I apologize if I’m wrong about something and I say what I got wrong.
  • I remind myself that for all of things I’m failing at, he probably thinks the world of.
  • I’m allowing him to be interested in the things he’s interested in and pouring into that early.
  • I tell my child the truth.
  • I allow him to be a kid—kids are loud, unruly, inappropriate, they ALWAYS live in the moment.

Overall, parenthood is forever, but toddlerhood isn’t. Make it a present one for them because I promise you’ll survive if you keep in mind that neither one of you will receive a redo for any of this time; however, they’ll ultimately remember how you made them feel and you will too.