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“Has that guy been there the whole time? Just watching us?” I asked my husband, while glancing nervously through the windshield of my Subaru.
We were sitting in a Target parking lot, making out in the front seat of my car like desperate teenagers.
“I don’t know. I didn’t notice him before,” my husband said as we looked sheepishly across the parking space. What have we become?
Parents. That’s what. Sleep-deprived, unkempt, slightly smelly, stressed out, parents.
On those highly prized rare nights when parents have a break from parenting pint-sized tyrants, we revert back to teenagerdom.
Seriously. Consider: What do we do when we’re suddenly without our sweet little monsters? Sleep. Eat popcorn and pie for dinner. Watch loads of television. Wear pajamas all day. Catch up and call friends. Dress up for no reason. Put on make up then wipe half of it off because we look like clowns. Take really, really long showers.
And apparently make out in Target parking lots while waiting to pick up takeout.
This night happened on one of those special “Grandparents’ Nights.” Before our second child was born, my mom had our toddler son while we went to a movie and then decided to pick up dinner on our way home. We had time to kill, but not enough to do much. So here we found ourselves, reverting back to our baser natures.
Parenting is a marathon. An endurance test. Maybe we’ll fall down. Maybe somebody will cheer for us. Maybe someone will throw water at us. Maybe we’ll cry. Maybe we’ll hit that runner’s high. Maybe we’ll do something embarrassing. Maybe we’ll find a buddy to commiserate with. Maybe we’ll inhale a packet of gummies without breaking stride. Maybe we’ll learn something about our grit, our fears, our hopes, our strength. Maybe we’ll learn how to ask for help.
And maybe we’ll make out in Target parking lots in front of strangers in vans.
I mean, the world really is our oyster.
Parenting is joyous. It’s beautiful. It’s messy and frustrating. It’s an unexpected–and sometimes undesirable–course in humility, patience, and honesty. It’s like jumping into a foam pit. It can be tons of fun and we’re pretty sure it’s safe, but damn, it’s exhausting to climb around in.
It’s also a course in hilarity. My toddler told me the other day “Mommy, sometimes I just wake up crabby.” Don’t we all. Sometimes, I imagine being a parent is like being the scribe to the Oracle of Delphi. There’s loads of gibberish, but sometimes startling clarity and insight pours out of these little mouths. Often, it’s of our own creation.
My toddler takes after his sarcastic, mischievous daddy. I think laughter is going to be my coping mechanism for…the rest of my life. Knowing my husband, our toddler isn’t going to grow out of it. #choosetheparentofyourchildwell
As parents, our minds are constantly preoccupied by super important questions like, Can I go to the bathroom right now without an audience? Are the car seats in my back seat empty because I forgot the children somewhere, or because I’m doing something on my own on purpose? Can anyone else see this breast milk stain the size of a softball?
So parents, let’s find what works for us. Figure out how to balance it all. Maybe it’s doing yoga. Maybe it’s cuddling our babies. Maybe it’s hiding in the bathroom from our babies (for a socially acceptable amount of time). Maybe it’s doing silly things as a family. Like gardening. Because gardening with a two-year-old and a nine-month-old is silly and someone is always eating dirt.
Maybe it’s the occasional foray into teenagerdom.
I won’t judge. If I ever happen to be that stranger awkwardly sitting across from you in a Target parking lot, I’ll laugh and give you a thumbs up. Go eat your pie and sleep for 14 hours. Tomorrow it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be cleaning up poo.