There is a universal unspoken truth about parents. We are all just barely keeping it together. And “It” is “our shit.”
Our lives are governed by unreliable, unstable, wholly-reliant third-parties that are learning to be people.
We are buried by the minute-by-minute decisions and the overwhelming responsibility of guiding them to be – at worst – decent human beings.
We are conflicted about if our choices put them – or keep them – on the right path to being successful, well-adjusted, healthy adults.
[And sometimes this manifests with us breaking down at the grocery store because we can’t decided the acceptable percentage of fat in ground turkey meat. Not that I’ve done that before…]
We obsess over which TV shows are good for them to watch while we cook dinner in the other room. And then second-guess if we got too-much or too-little fat in the turkey meat. And do the kids like their pasta al dente? Will they eat it if it’s too soft? Did they get the flu shot?
Plus, we can’t (but sometimes do) forget homework, play-dates, school events, class fundraisers, sports, youth groups.
And behavior. Are the kids playing well together? Or do they tease and taunt and terrorize each other the second you turn your back?
On top of that full-time job, we juggle our own personal and professional aspirations here, too. Work, hobbies, friends, travel.
And cleaning, cooking, shopping for clothes, deciding on Halloween costumes, decorating for the holidays, trying to find the pencil sharpener…the list goes on.
Then we have our own health and wellness – sleep, diet, exercise.
Maybe we want to watch a TV show or two. Maybe we don’t want to fall asleep sitting upright on the couch while watching.
Parents are like web browsers with 100 tabs open at once.
Our shared reality is that we are all fighting the fight. We are all juggling countless decisions – some big, some small – that compound on each other.
And somehow, even though we are all living the same ridiculousness, we do everything we can to project to everyone how easy our life is.
Honestly, some days, it’s easy…and some days, we’re “Travelling Shitstorm, party of five!”
The trick is to laugh through the ridiculousness. And when you see other parents deep in the muck in public – screaming baby, stinky diaper, kids running off in different directions, didn’t bring the right snacks – go easy on them, because that could be you dealing with that mess.
And it probably will be.