In Retrospect, All I Had Were Pretend Parenting Problems

454322839I’ve got a mess of kids over the age of five and if there is one thing I could do, I wish I could go back and tell myself not to worry so much. To just chill out a bit, enjoy my kids and whatever mess they were making at the time, realize that every time they cried or had a weird rash or ate a penny they found on the floor or stuck something up their nose or had some mystery bruise or refused to eat anything but Goldfish crackers for a week that they would be fine. Totally fine. More than fine.

Well, for now. Because as we all know, little kids little problems and big kids, big problems, and no one has called me from jail. Yet.

I wasn’t what I would call a super worrisome mom. I didn’t lose sleep that many nights over what my kids were or weren’t doing, but I did spend numerous hours pouring over parenting books and later – doing web searches for whatever worrying behavior my kids were exhibiting at the time. One thing that I needed to be told when I was a young mom, and this is probably one of the only real parenting truths I know, and it is something that NONE of the parenting books tell you is that:

Being a parent is the fucking scariest thing on earth, but no matter how scary it can be, your kids will be fine.

I’m not talking about kids with severe medical problems, or kids who are in hospital, because as a parent who has never experienced that I really have NO idea what that is like. But for the rest of you? Your kids will be fine. It will all be fine.

Don’t get me wrong. I spent many a night fretting over kids with fevers and kids refusing to nap and kids not eating and kids with amazingly creepy looking diapers. I asked other moms and my own mom tons of questions trying to discern what was NORMAL and what was an actual real parenting problem. Because that’s the thing with parenting, we have so many pretend parenting problems when it comes down to it, but no parent every realizes at the time that that’s what they are. It all seems amazingly life or death when it’s three in the morning and your toddler wakes up sobbing inconsolebly because they are cutting a tooth.

I just want you to remember this, that your kid will be fine.

Another universal truth of parenting is this, besides it being the fucking scariest thing on earth, it really all does go by so fast.

I wish I had worried less and enjoyed it more.

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  • Maria Guido

    At least when your kids are older you don’t have to worry about them choking all the time. That’s my pretend parenting problem that drives me bananas.

    • jsterling93

      Me too. My son is starting to eat foods that are little thicker or chunkier than purees and I am terrified of him choking.

    • Lackadaisical

      But that’s just it, I worried about it but my kids never did choke. It is scary at the time but after you realize it was all alright and they were fine.

    • Emil

      I asked my aunt when I get to stop worrying about choking she said “you never stop worrying” arhh! not helpful! seriously I need an age. I have a four year old and I still cut up grapes. Someone needs to tell me when to stop.

    • pixie

      I still cut up hot dogs the way my dad did for me as a toddler so I wouldn’t choke on them. It just became the way I liked to eat them. ;)

    • pineapplegrasss

      stop cutting up grapes for your 4yo :)

  • Beth

    Oh, Eve, now you’ve got me crying at work …. My girls are just on the edge of this. Their baby and toddler years are gone; they are six and eight. And I was like that, too. I worried, worried, worried. And when I wasn’t worrying, I was cleaning like a motherfucker. Why on earth was I cleaning so much? They messed it up again, every day, and instead of enjoying watching them make those messes – and maybe even making messes with them – I grouchily cleaned it all up again. I miss babies and toddlers, too. They’re never coming back, and I didn’t appreciate them when they were here.

    • Eve Vawter

      I 10000% know what you mean. I appreciated mine, and I bet you did too, but it’s so true that you look back at the worrying and cleaning and stressing and wish you would have spent it just being with them. Hugs to you

  • pineapplegrasss

    Eve, I just have to say that I love the way you described mommying here. I could feel myself going through the motions with my own children.
    ‘the way they clung to me when we went into the pool, promising to never let them go when I sunk us in past our shoulders’ and
    ‘waltzing them around my living room when it was dark and quiet, watching their eyelids close as I attempted a lullaby in a hushed voice’
    absolutely beautiful, you’ve got me crying at work too.

    • Eve Vawter


    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      This was really beautifully written and eloquent. Almost teary…but resisting.

      I tell my kids all the time that I have a time/age “freeze ray;” I just haven’t used it yet. But I really wish it was true! *sigh*

    • Carinn Jade

      THIS. And THAT (everything Eve wrote).

  • G.E. Phillips

    I’m so scared of blinking and Face being like, 13, and he won’t have trouble saying “R” words, he won’t have that baby laugh, and the worst–that he won’t want me to snuggle with him all the time. I miss him already, and he’s not even there yet.

  • G.E. Phillips

    I’m so scared of blinking and Face being, like, 13, and he won’t have trouble saying “R” words, he won’t have that baby laugh, and worst of all, he won’t want me to snuggle with him all the time anymore. I miss him already, and he’s not even there yet.

    • Pumplestilskin

      This is my life right now. My 11 year old, all of mine really (11,9 and 8) are still snugglers, luckily and I eat. it. up. because it seems like a week ago they were soft, smooshy, fluffy, sweet smelling babies who fit in the crook of my arm and would drift off to sleep. Now they are all long limbed and scrawny with hard edges, too heavy to hold for any length of time (well, not the 8 year old, she’s tiny), the 11 year old smells funny and my son (the 9 year old) will only let me kiss him before bedtime. My 8 year old is a young 8 I like to say. She gets along better with 6 year olds than girls in her grade. I kind of like that, Her small size, she is similar in size to 6 year olds also, and younger behavior make me feel like I have a couple of extra years with her

    • LiteBrite

      I feel the same way. C says so many crazy things that come out of that weird six-year-old logic, he has this cute, babyish giggle, and this utter goofiness that I love, and I know it won’t last. Suddenly he’s going to be 14 and the only words I’m going to get out of him are “That’s lame, Mom.”

      And he’s moving out of the snuggle stage. Even last winter he would curl up in my lap while we watched TV together, but now he’s like, “Yeah, it’s not comfortable sitting on your lap. I’m gonna sit over here.” (Sniff….)

    • G.E. Phillips

      Oh no. It sounds like I’ve got maybe two more years. My ovaries are crying right now.

    • Sara

      If it helps at all, right after Marine basic training my big bro cuddled with my mom and all of his sisters (me included) to watch movies with us. We run away, but we always come back to snuggle with Mom!

  • LiteBrite

    I love this, but it makes me cry. My son is six. SIX. When the hell did that happen? It seems like just yesterday I was jumping for joy because he rolled over by himself for the first time. Now he’s learning basic addition and subtraction, and I’m like “Huh?” (His spelling is atrocious though. “Getting” is not spelled “Giding” kid.)

    When he was a baby I couldn’t wait until he was older, more independent, and now I look back on those days of rocking him to sleep and I wish I had enjoyed it more and not been so eager for him to get bigger. But I will say that I’m making an effort to appreciate the hell out of this kid now, because ages 5-6 have been my absolute favorite so far, and they’re going by way too fast.

  • Bethany Ramos

    This post makes me really happy and is so reassuring. I’m always worrying about whether or not I’m doing a good job because I just want my kids to like me when I’m older. I know you can’t guarantee anything, but I just want us to be friends as adults. :-) I’m also really, really enjoying my son as he becomes a toddler and gets to express himself, and I don’t want him to grow up!!!

  • Carinn Jade

    This was so beautiful Eve! I try to remind myself of this as often as possible. A friend of mine is having the same exact awful sleep problems as my daughter right now and she looked at me eagerly like “so what are you doing?” and I said “nothing.” Sure I don’t like being kicked in the face or headbutted in my sleep, but I am relishing the little padding of their feet through the hallway, the way she taps on my shoulder with one hand while sucking her thumb with the other. Somehow I have more perspective with my 2nd even though she’s just two years younger than my first but I’m trying to soak it all in. Thanks for the perfect reminder.

    • pineapplegrasss

      I think I need to take more of a ‘relax mom’ sleep position with my little guy.. I just don’t know how.. I’m just so tired! I really need him to just lay down and go to SLEEP. I honestly don’t mind him coming into my bed in the middle of the night, I like hugging and cuddling, and he saves the kicking for dad, or else I just sleep through it.. its the beginning part of the night that’s been so hard.