OK, I’m trying a little something new here because, of course, Explorations loves to innovate. I just read a new book of parenting essays called Lose the Cape: Never Will I Ever edited by Alexa Bigwarfe and Kerry Rivera. If you’re looking for a quick read about the adventure that is parenting, I think you should check this one out. (Disclaimer: I signed up to receive a complimentary advance copy of the e-book.)
The premise of this one is pretty simple: 32 contributors share stories about the things they promised themselves they would never do…before they had kids. Oh my, how things do change when the tears and the dirt and the sleepless nights and the poop are real rather than imagined.
You might start deviating from your master parenting plan on day one or it might take a bit longer, but there is no doubt, it’s a matter of when, not if. For some, like contributor Karen Johnson, plans started to change with her third child. “My first two children were normal humans,” she writes. That’s definitely one of my favorite lines in the book.
There is a lot of good stuff in this one. As you might expect, food is a recurring topic. Parents are obsessed with food. Ruminations on cheese in a can? Food wars? Merits of boxed macaroni and cheese (and how to properly mix the cheese sauce)? You can find all that and more right here. Apparently, many people have elaborate fantasies about how their kids will eat. Fortunately, I had no such illusions. My childhood eating habits gave me a pretty good idea of what things would really be like. Of course, in the face of my kids’ horrible diets, I console myself with the knowledge that I was a pretty terrible eater that grew up to be a vegetarian that will eat foods other than French fries. Things will work out in the end. That’s my general philosophy.
In addition to the food battles and messy houses, there are also some very insightful contemplations of the definition of strength in the context of work/life balance and parenting. For example, contributor Tessa Shull writes, describing her decision to stay at home with her child, “I was pursuing a path that gave me the opportunity to be with my daughter while still finding other creative ways to pursue career outlets at home.” I think these type of discussions about work and parenting and creativity are ones we need to see more of. To what extent and how can a mom or dad balance the demands of parenting with professional and creative pursuits? What role does money play? How do the pieces of the puzzle fit together?
Of course, reading these essays made me think: What was my parenting Never Will I Ever? It’s actually pretty basic: have kids. I never thought kids would be in my plans. Being the youngest of four children, I had twelve nieces and nephews before I got married. Actually, I had twelve nieces and nephews before I had a real girlfriend. And frankly, kids really grossed me out. I couldn’t deal with the smells and the messiness and the chaos. Everyone told me it’s different when you have your own, but I didn’t believe it. As it turns out, they were kind of right. Other kids still make me a bit queasy, but I’ve reached the level of parenting where my kid can projectile vomit all over me and I don’t even bat an eyelash. In fact, I can usually clean up the aftermath without missing the exciting conclusion of a tight basketball game on TV.
But, in addition to the physical mess, I saw firsthand how much having kids changes your entire life. I came into the parenting game with quite a bit of knowledge acquired by years of subtle osmosis. I knew what to expect. Maybe not in great detail, but the fuzzy outline was there. So, once the major never will I ever hurdle, having kids, was cleared, I was ready to roll. And that’s pretty much what I do, just roll with it. Always keeping my parenting philosophy in mind: Survive and Advance.
So, what was your parenting Never Will I Ever??