Being a Parent
By Diana, age 18, Romania
Here's how it goes. You meet someone, get married, and have a kid (maybe more). That's only logical, right? And more importantly, it's what people around you seem to expect once you reach a certain age. However, what these same people fail to tell you is what to do or expect once you've accomplished those goals. Suppose you settle down, start a family ... what now?
Well, normally, what you read in books or see in romance movies is that raising a child is the biggest joy in one's life. Nonetheless, there aren't many willing to tell you just what it is you're signing yourself up for. Because if you're imagining playing dress-up on a baby girl or just reading bed-time stories ... well, let's just say you are sorely mistaken. Of course, your point of view on the entire commitment just might be what triggers a lifetime of joy or torture. Trust me, I learned that first-hand when my baby brother was born.
What most people expect when deciding to start a family is so very much different from what they actually get. Because you may feel proud that you have a life growing inside of you, you might be anxious to hold your baby out for inspection in front of your friends, saying, "See? I gave birth to him!" (as in I-hope-you-realize-what-an-effort-that-was!!) And yes, he or she will be cuddly and cute, a bundle of skin and bones, too fragile to be handled carelessly. But you have yet to experience how undeniably forceful she will be in her demands for food and attention. So, while a child is indeed a blessing in a darn good disguise, it's what you have to go through to get your proof of having been a responsible parent that really matters.
The laughter, the bubbly face, the toothless grins ... it all starts that way. Well, until the baby gets hungry, that is. Because the moment his stomach rumbles and you are not there in a second, you'll get the wailing of a lifetime. The child is in need of your assistance, and if he has to alert the entire neighborhood just to make sure you hear him, then so be it. Besides, you decided to have him, so now you gotta take care of him. Period.
Suppose you manage to calm her down (and, of course, the only way to do that is to ensure that all her demands are answered). You have managed to rip her attention off you, get her to play with her toys, and you are now tip-toeing out of the room, closing the door and releasing a breath you hadn't realized you were holding. You made it! With a quick mental "yippee!" you dash to your chores, eager to finish and hopefully get a break afterwards with a nice cup of tea in front of the TV.
Alas, it is not meant to be. Minutes later, satisfied with reaching your goals, you make your way to the couch, sink into its plushy comfiness, and instantly spring back up, looking around madly for the source of the screeching sounds invading your house. Heart pounding wildly, you eventually think to look towards the baby's room. Sure enough, there he is, red in the face, puffy-eyed, screaming his lungs out at the realization of being alone. Such, at least, is the life of a mother. Because while the father gets his breaks by either going to the supermarket or work, you as a mother are stuck taking care of the kid. Why? Simple. You're his mother. Why should the father be forced to look after him when you were practically born for the job?
Another thing that you might not realize is just how much alike your child and a sponge really are. The only difference between the two is what they are able to absorb. Therefore, don't just stare open-mouthed when the child decides to use some of the words that unconsciously slipped from you in a moment of pure rage. Instead, make sure that you're always thinking clearly around her and that nothing harmful is said. Because, like it or not, what a child is going to remember is more than likely what you don't want her to, rather than the lessons of life you're trying to teach her.
One thing that seems to have become in fashion lately is the lack of time. You're always in a hurry, no one understands just how many things you gotta do, and obviously no one lifts a finger to help you. Thus, the logical reaction. You get mad, bored, annoyed, and whenever your child cries for attention, you'd much rather do the bare minimum to reduce the wails and then get back to your own business. In a way, I suppose it's only natural. After all, what you see around you does little to discourage you from this. But should you decide to go to a park just with your kid, without a phone, or iPod, or a book, and actually pay attention to the screeching children who practically demand junk food and the latest most violent cartoons, you'll come to realize just how much like them your child has become. The reason for that? Well, it's quite simple actually. It's your lack of attention that has made him this way. Because, if you look around, you'll find busy parents who would do anything to make their child shut up and get some rest. And if the price for an hour's worth of sleep is chocolate, French fries, and fizzy drinks, they consider it a blessing in disguise. Naturally, so do you. But in the long run, you'll soon become aware of just how different your child is from the way you wanted him to be. You'll get a cold, indifferent boy or girl who will only turn to you when need demands it, because that's the routine you yourself have set. You'll be lucky to get a second glance when you ask for help or for them to listen to you. But more importantly, your child will become a stranger to you.
So, the next time you're summoned for food or attention, try and tap into your long lost childhood, and spend the time you would have taken to complain to actually find something entertaining for the both of you, something to strengthen the bond that his or her birth created. You don't need fancy toys or the latest cartoons, not even the best imagination in the world. What you do need, however, is a true desire to spend time with your child because, in the end, that's what he was looking for after all.