Raising Richmond: Parenting confessions (2013 edition)

I first shared my parenting confessions with the Internet back in early 2010, fresh off my son’s first birthday. Three years later, I’ve got quite a few more beans to spill.

Back when this gig was a two-person effort, the lovely (and greatly missed) Patience Salgado and I shared our top-five parenting confessions. We did so in the hopes that our honesty would inspire other moms and dads to let the “perfect parent” facade come down a bit. Which did happen. But I also like to think that it helped established Raising Richmond as a place where local parents could engage in (or at least observe and be encouraged by) some much-needed realtalk. And in the spirit of staying true to our “put it all out there” mission, I figured it was high time I update my list.

That original piece ran just after our son JR turned one, so I was still very much a n00b when it came to parenting. While every single one of the confessions I shared then still still holds true today, I definitely have some vaguely dirty laundry to add to the line now that my kid’s hit the ripe old age of four-and-a-half.1 Go ahead, take a gander, and feel free to share your own parental confessions in the comments.2

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1. I could not possibly care less about his favorite thing on Earth.

JR, like many little kids his age, is obsessed with (in love with, consumed by) Ninjago. Now in case you aren’t familiar with this craze, I imagine you probably want me to explain to you what Ninjago is. The thing is, I couldn’t tell ya.

OK, that’s not exactly true. I know it’s a line of LEGO (that has its own TV show or something?) that my son will not stop talking about. Ever. EVVVVVVVER. And he doesn’t want to talk to you about Ninjago; he wants to talk at you. So every day, multiple times a day, he engages in soliloquies about which ninja is best and how he wants to be the red ninja and did you know Kai has a sword of fire and OH MY GAWD JUST STOP TALKING, CHILD.

It’s gotten to the point where should he bring up anything Ninjago-related in my presence, my eyes roll back in my head, and I release a gurgly bellow of disgust from my innermost being. I realize it probably hurts his feelings when I do this, but…I…I just can’t anymore. He’s broken me. I am broken.

2. I shout.

I don’t ever shout unkind things at my child,3 but I definitely do shout at him. And then (and THEN!) I have the audacity to get mad when he gives it right back to me. Do you know what makes you look more ridiculous than engaging in a shouting match with a preschooler? Nothing.

Needless to say, it’s not my favorite thing about myself. I’m working on it.

3. I smell his head. Like a lot.

Even though JR’s scent continues to move more into the realm of “stinky boy” as he gets older, I still bury my face in his hair every chance I get. He smells like maple syrup and sweat and green beans–a combination that doesn’t sound at all appealing but so, so is.

4. I worry what our similarities mean for his future.

Research suggests that depression is more common in people whose biological family members also have it. JR and I are cut from the same cloth physically and emotionally,4 so the possibility that he’ll struggle with depression and anxiety, just like I do, simply because we share genetic material…well, sadness, anxiety, and crushing guilt don’t even begin to describe how that plays out in my mind.

5. I loathe putting him to bed…but I don’t want anyone else to do it.

When my husband puts JR to bed, it’s a pretty seamless process. But when I put him to bed? Oh, the drama! Oh, the gnashing of teeth! The rending of garments! And yet, despite the fact that I find the whole scenario quite infuriating–especially if it’s the giant cherry on a shit sundae of a day–I still want to be the last person my son talks to before he goes to bed at night.

6. I often choose my convenience over his independence.

My son is more than capable of walking longer distances, putting on his own shoes, dressing himself, and brushing his own teeth, but you’ll still find me butting in to move the process along, just so I can get where I want or need to5 be faster. I realize that I’m basically screwing myself over with this approach–taking away his chance to practice these skills isn’t going to make him any better at them–but my tendency to just be concerned with what’s happening right now in this moment trumps all reason. Also: have you ever experienced the agony that is waiting for a four-year-old to climb out of the car? Sloths move faster than that. Dial-up Internet. Glaciers.

And, OK, if I’m being, totally honest, my tendency to mother him a bit more than needed–specifically when it comes to things like helping him get dressed or carrying him to the car–can be attributed to this next confession…

7. I hate that he’s getting older.

Hate. Hate. Always have, always will.

I know every new skill, every milestone should be celebrated–and they are in the appropriately enthusiastic and often rowdy fashion. But, for me, the pride of those moments will always come with a little side dish of sadness. Because every time we say hello to a new, more grown up version of JR, we have to say goodbye to part of him that made him our baby–our little guy who needs us and craves our time and attention. So I still want to carry all 42 pounds of him to the car or up to bed. I still want to see the last bit of chub on his arms and legs as I help him into his pajamas. And I will as long as he’s cool with it.

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  1. Of course I realize I have much more ground to cover on the road of parenting, but those first few years of life are jam-packed with so much stuff: walking, talking, potty training, helping your child not kill himself–the list goes on. 
  2. And all you Judgey JoAnnas can SAVE IT. 
  3. I usually end up shouting whatever I’ve been saying to him over and over again (and he’s been ignoring) for the last 10 minutes. 
  4. Save for a few delightful traits he inherited from his dad, such as his lovely blue eyes and a weird habit of tucking his socks into the cushions of the couch. 
  5. Like to work or to a doctor’s appointment or to my bed so I can watch Buffy. 

Photo by: two stout monks

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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