Trust Me, It Gets Worse

by Regan Long
Originally Published: 

There are so many pros to having your babies close together. They always have a playmate. You never feel like you have to start over with the entire process because you’re already in it. You become pretty fabulous at juggling 20 balls in the air at one time and are ready for pretty much anything that can be thrown at you. Literally.

You go through sleep deprivation all at once, night after night, month after month, year after year. You don’t even notice the bags under your eyes anymore as they have permanently taken up residence and just seem to now…fit.

And you’ve become accustomed to chaos every second of every minute of every day. So accustomed that you don’t even realize the circus you are putting on for everyone in public, if you did, more than likely you’d join them and roll your eyes at yourself, too, as antic after antic continues.

But I, for one, happen to love my circus. My daily-life craziness is actually the normal that I prayed for my entire life. Frankly, I wouldn’t trade it for the most quiet, organized, successful, well-traveled, well-rested lifestyle. But, that’s just me. And yes, for those of you silently asking yourself if I’m crazy and have totally lost it, your answer is yes…a long time ago!

But when you have a crew like mine and you venture out in public, people have the opportunity to do one of two things: They either fall in love with you and adore your beautiful, entertaining monkeys by ooh-ing and aw-ing and chuckling at the tricks your littler performers stage, or the latter, decidedly more unappealing option, in which they absolutely, positively despise you and are irritated by everything about your entire crew—each move and every noise.

But one would think you’d at least get some slack from other parents who are going through, or have gone through the same things. Right? That they’d get it? They don’t hate you for being the one hogging grocery aisles with three shopping carts and three crying children, or, Heaven forbid, taking up three times the space on a sidewalk, or one side of the mall or fairground, pushing the double stroller. Yes, being the woman pushing the stroller—oh, the looks could kill.

But the other parents are supposed to be on the same team. Battling the same battles. Fighting the same fights. Holding on riding the same roller coaster ride that you’re currently being flung around on, white knuckled from holding on so tightly for dear life.

But, as with anything, you have your Negative Nancys and Debbie Downers. Unfortunately, they are everywhere.

At the grocery store, at church, at the park, at the mall, at the gas station and, sadly, they even find you out of town visiting family and friends. They’re everywhere. And the best part is, they manage to sneak up on you with their words of wisdom at the most inopportune times.

The baby is bucking in the grocery cart, but you must keep pushing through despite what the best parenting research says, namely, show your child that you won’t put up with that behavior in public and leave immediately. Well, I apologize to everyone in Walmart, but I, for one, cannot leave; I must get my groceries. It’s now or never. And before my trip is over, at least one or two other shoppers lean over and share (as if they’re actually helping), “Oh you just wait. It gets worse.”

My toddler is speaking out in the middle of church. Okay, he’s yelling. We do what we can, take him out to the cry area, use as many quieting techniques as possible. Just then the older woman behind us whispers, “It’s okay, dear. Don’t worry. Mine went through that stage. He’ll grow out of it. But boy, hold on. You’ll have so many other issues to deal with when this phase fizzles out. You’ll be wishing you had this back.”

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and the kids are running around laughing at the park. Everyone seems to be having a great time until the baby falls on the cement from running ahead too fast and busts open her knee. A bystander pipes in, “Oh poor thing. You always hate to see them get hurt. In a handful of years you’ll be afraid to let them leave the house, and have to worry about each time they get in the car with one of their friends or go out on a date. Ugh, I wish these were the boo-boos I still had to worry about fixing. Just wait. It gets worse!”

All three kids are shrieking and running underneath the clothes racks in a store at the mall. Everyone in the store seems to be quite annoyed, as if we are purposefully trying to ruin their relaxing day out. Another Dad walks by and says, out of the side of his mouth, “You think things are tough now? Ha! You have no idea! It only gets worse.”

The kids are fighting and hitting each other in the back seat of the car while we’re filling up at the gas station. The person across from us chuckles as they’re entertained by the impromptu WWE show going on in our vehicle, and says, “Reminds me of how mine used to be. They still hate each other to this day, and they’re all in their mid- to late-teens now. I hope one day they’ll get along.”

You’re at home for the holidays and run into the family friends that haven’t seen you in a couple of years. You have the kids dressed in their best and are ecstatic to show off your picture perfect, beautiful, intelligent, personable, glowing children. Naturally, as soon as they are approached and asked their name or how old they are, your kids shut down, stick their face into your leg, shake their heads back and forth and scream “NO.” The family friends are quick to respond, “Oh, it’s okay. I’m sure they’re trying to adjust from being out of their normal routine and away from home. Try to enjoy this time since they grow so up so fast, and before you know it, they’ll want nothing to do with you. My kids never want to talk or be around me. Soon you won’t have this.”

When we get these comments, normally I do the plasitc smile and happiest, fake giggle I can force out, and reply with something like, “Oh I can only imagine!” Or nervously laugh, “They’re something else, aren’t they?” But most of the time I want to look them square in the eyes and ask, “Really? Thanks a million for the great pep talk! Now I feel so much better! Woah, that’s a load off!”

It’s tough being a parent for all of us. There are different worries that I’ll endure and battles I’m sure to face, but I’m a mother—it’s my job to worry. There will never be another day for the rest of my life that I’m not worried about my children.

As parents, we are going to encounter many defeats, but we must never be defeated. Why? The answer is simple: We’re gladiators.

But I leave you with this thought to ponder: Positive thinking leads to positive outcomes. Be that positive spark or that helpful bridge for the next struggling Mama you encounter. A couple words of encouragement could be a total game changer.

They are powerful.

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