When you're a young parent... and by young, I mean new to parenting, not that I'm writing this post specifically to the 14 year old moms out there, even though you guys can totes read this but shouldn't you be studying? Anyway, when you're a rookie parent you are constantly trying to find the lines, where you're supposed to be, where the kid is supposed to be. Every other parent, every parenting book and article and blog hits you square in the uterus. You lie awake at night, questioning every decision.
And everybody else is figuring out parenting, too, and they have developed rabid convictions that may or may not outlast the toddler years. "Oh, sure," they say, "pierce your daughters ears. Now, I didn't, because I'm not into infant mutilation, but you know, whatever." You lose your fingernails over an articles about children who become serial killers, most likely because of an exclusively chicken nuggets and applesauce diet for six months of their third year. After some time, you get pretty used to your kids and you figure out what will most likely keep them quiet in public and relatively happy, and you take and toss parenting advice as you gain confidence in your own intuition.
It's just when you reach this level of comfort and maturity that you start hearing a sinister new voice. "Man, you sure are stressed out a lot." "Most moms play with their kids outside." "Do you have a baby in your tummy?" Your terror rises as you realize the voices are coming from inside the house.
These children, who you have voluntarily brought into your home, clothed and fed, have now turned on you with a wary eye. "Other kids," they say snootily, "have Doritos for their snack." "Other kids have fruit leather." There's no use trying to reason with them, but I try. "Look," I say, pointing to their cheery neon packages of petroleum based fruit-extract-flavored gummy snacks, "these are your favorite, and they're only 4 dollars for a box of 25,000!" They are skeptical.
"When you yelled at me," they say, "it made me feel like you were angry that I poured the whole container of cat litter in the vent." I try to put on my psychologist voice. "I wasn't yelling," I explain, thinking of how to word it so it sounds the best when they repeat it to a social worker, "I was just talking loudly because it seemed like no one could hear me."
Today Brynn found a 30-second timer and followed me around, timing my tasks. All of the sudden I was overcome with the inefficiency of my peanut butter sandwich making process. "How fast are you going?" they ask, while I'm speeding down the freeway. "The speed limit is 65, mom, how fast are you going? Do you want another ticket, mom?"
The scariest part of it is, their discernment is dead-on, most of the time. I live with tiny prophets in Spiderman undies, so nowhere is safe. I'm either gonna have to clean up my act or get better at lying. And they ask me why I'm stressed....