Today I took J, my 14 month old to a local high school at the request of a friend’s daughter who had to do a presentation in her child development class. I sat at the front of the class with her on my lap while our friend talked about some of the developmental milestones of a 14 month old. I don’t know who was more intimidated to have 15 high school freshman and sophomores staring at us – me or sweet little J (or the girl making the presentation, who was very nervous)! When she was done with her presentation, the teacher asked me several questions about J, about my life as a parent, and even about my labor with both girls! It’s amazing how the process of becoming a mother makes one comfortable talking openly about a not so glamorous event resulting in a human being emerging from your hoo-ha (sorry, couldn’t think of a better word).
Anyway, during all of this I found myself thinking about one thing – how can I get across to these hormone raging teenagers that having a baby, a sweet and cute little baby to cuddle and play with, is NOT something that is cool to do any time soon! I know that some young girls have this fantasy that having a baby will make them happy, complete them, be all fun and love, and thanks to MTV’s Teen Mom (which I REFUSE to watch and support in any way) get them attention! Oh, how I wish they could spend a day with me. One of those days that I never got my teeth brushed, my children ate nothing but cheerios all day, there are dirty diapers spread across the whole house, and I am crying by bedtime because I’m stretched so thin, so tired, feeling like a failure because I yelled at my 4-year-old on multiple occasions. The funny thing about babies is that they grow into toddlers before you can say “toddler”. I always tell people that the first year of a child’s life is the easy part. I can handle sleepless nights and poopy diapers and teething. It’s when they start to become little people with their own opinion about how the world works that you suddenly realize that your role has changed from keeping them warm and fed to raising a whole and happy individual. The HUGE responsibility of parenting sets in and seems almost daunting at times. Your cute little baby will be 3 before you know it and you must think about instilling self-confidence, teaching morals, praying about all of the things you hope they don’t do as teenagers (among a thousand other things).
Parenting is so hard. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. Maybe the desire to be an excellent parent makes the stress more intense, because we are all so far from perfect in all realms of life and parenting is no exception. Having children not only taxes us as parents individually but it affects marriages and relationships too. The strongest of relationships are challenged when raising children – and I’m not talking babies, like I said before – easy part! You never think your relationship will change when you have kids – it always does, in one way or another.
Would I do it differently, of course not! I love my girls. Most of the time I love being a mom (I will do a post on that subject later). But my heart hurts for teenagers and young women who feel that a baby will make them feel complete and happy. One must be complete and happy to make a good parent. Having a baby is not about YOU it is about creating and raising a healthy person into an adult and setting them out into the world. I am 31, I’ve lived a lot, had a lot of fun and freedom, done a lot of work on myself, grown up (mostly after 24) and I still feel like I’m not qualified for this job.
So there’s my rant! 🙂
In the end, none of the high school kids seemed super interested in the presentation and I just hope that my repetition of “it’s exhausting” got across to any of them who want to be future Teen Mom stars!