Tonight, I made vegan chocolate chip cookies with my two young children, who stood on a shared chair at the kitchen counter next to me. Smiles and flour covered everyone. My daughter ate directly out of the brown sugar bin, and no spoon went un-licked.
It was a Pinterest wet dream.
I prepared for the magical moment, by having spa music playing on my iPhone and a tequila and 7-up never far from my fingers.
I knew going in that it was going to be fun, and I knew going in that it was going to be terrible. It was, in fact, both. No one listened to anyone else, both of them fell off said chair a few times and argued over whose feet required more room, Mucinex almost made it into the oil/sugar mix because I’d dared to leave it on the counter and nothing is actually child proof.
I planned ahead to reduce my twitching, which mostly worked. They sullied the entire kitchen, (house, and neighborhood) by making cookies, and had a great time #makingmemories, and I didn’t lose my shit, because I had my zen vibes and drink. This is not my first rodeo. I’ve been a parent for a few years now. I know that most experiences with kids are combination of beautiful and sticky screaming.
It’s come to my attention that we suffering parents of this particular moment in time are not that special. We bemoan our plight in countless essays (META), but our parents and our parents’ parents were in the same boat of loving the kids/not liking parts of parenting.
Certainly trends in women in the workforce and certain aspects of community and image have been affected by the internet/social media, so some things might be different as a mom today versus a mom of yore, but largely I think parenting is, and was, hard.
Our parents were just as put-upon, just as overwhelmed, just as annoyed by us, as we are by our children. They totally had stashes of chocolate and booze for when they needed it. My own particular mom, who was/is exceptional in that role, who I look back on as a beautiful golden unicorn of happiness and strength, chewed ice like she was punishing her teeth. WE DID THAT TO HER. It’s a miracle she can still eat solid foods.
Our parents probably also hid in the bathroom for alone time, like we do. At that time it would have been reading magazines until their feet went numb dangling off the toilet, instead of playing on our phones until our feet go numb, dangling off the toilet, as we do now. One man I knew, in his 50’s, describes his mother, raising four kids in the ‘60s, as always “sitting on her front porch, one hand on her cigarette, one hand on her drink … and one hand on her Redbook magazine.” She was known for taking multiple pills “for her nerves” and everyone knew when to leave her alone and let her sleep it off. THEY DID THAT TO HER.
I don’t know many parents (grandparents now) who talk about how difficult it was to raise young children. That probably means I know really generous people. Also, maybe they don’t want to scare us off from making them some precious grandchildren to make up for all the nightmares of parenting the first time around. Maybe they simply don’t remember the stressful stuff, and look back fondly through the haze of decades passed.
Whatever they gave up to raise us lives somewhere locked deep inside them, too. As we parents now are struggling to figure out if we can be leaders in business and community, artists, spouses AND parents at the same time, they too had dreams that they may or may not have found ways to pursue. Maybe our parents wanted to be supreme court justices, and now just have an NCIS habit they just can’t break. It’s understandable. Raising kids is crazy hard, and Mark Harmon is a silver fox. Anyway, WE DID THAT TO THEM. We couldn’t help it. It’s just how these things work.
I take comfort in the fact that I only remember my parents being lovely, and don’t recall the moments when they surely had her frustrations and disappointments and aggravation with parenting. Hopefully my kids remember the making of the cookies, not my twitching and hollering. That’s all part of this normal relationship, and there’s no reason to hide it, but I don’t want to be remembered as a boozy grouch hiding in my bathroom fort.
I find it comforting that we’re not especially good or bad at this. It’s just hard. Has been, will be, hard. Our parents tried, and we’re trying. Keep on.
Seriously, though, don’t eat these cookies.
Editor’s Note: Neither Sarah, nor Dirty and Thirty condone drinking while parenting. Drink responsibly, like in the locked bathroom while your children run amuck!
Guest Post: Sarah Zimmerman