CANDY ALLAN: Children change everything
I may be going out on a limb here, but my guess is if you’re reading a parenting column, I’ve got a 50-50 chance you’re a mother. For all you fathers, hang in there, June’s just around the corner.
Most of the time in this space I talk about my kids and (admittedly) ask for your advice about whatever parenting challenges or childhood stages our family seems to be experiencing at the moment.
I thought in honor of Mother’s Day maybe I’d switch things up just a bit. Today I’m going to talk about how the kids have changed me, instead of how I’m trying to shape them.
It’s undeniable that having children changes you, but I don’t know how often anybody stops to think about the ways they’re different as people after the ankle-biters enter the scene.
Before you get too worried, I’m not referring to stretch marks or physical changes — I’ll leave that to the small discussion groups mothers tend to get into from time to time, generally in the presence of a woman experiencing her first pregnancy.
Personally, I’ve had to learn to think faster — and slower — than I did before. I’ve got to think fast enough to stay two steps ahead of whatever argument the kids are making so I don’t get boxed into a verbal corner and end up with “Because I said so!” as my only remaining retort.
But I’ve also had to learn to think slower. I have to stop and go back to the first time I tried to create a paragraph topic sentence or understand the concept of multiplication. I’ve been able to vicariously relive discovering new things, whether it’s the way a slug leaves a slime trail behind or the fact fruit browns when exposed to air.
Having my own children made me more accepting of other people’s kids, especially when they’re clearly tired and 0.1 seconds from a meltdown.
I’ve discovered I have an aversion to ceaseless noise. I appreciate silence in a way I never before thought possible. Sleep rates as a preferred free time activity.
Other than a few steadfast friends I’ve had for years, most of my adult interaction off work hours comes from the parents of my children’s friends and teammates. Nobody else understands the dilemma quite the same way — or is as uniquely positioned to help out in a jam. Talking to my mother-in-law, she often mentions women whose children are the same age as her sons. The connections made on the sidelines of the ball field or on the sidewalks of playgrounds seem to be lasting. I hope they are, anyway.
I don’t think twice about picking up someone else’s child and shuttling them to or from some activity, though once I would have been worried someone would think I was a creepy predator person. Now, I’m just the mom on taxi duty.
I have opinions on a wide range of places and products that I willingly share at the drop of hat if asked which brand of diapers worked best or how kid-friendly a particular location is.
My view of world events or political stances is focused through the lens of how it will affect my children.
I’ve noticed that as my children age, my focus and priority scale of outside events changes. I’m no longer concerned about child safety seat regulations, though I once followed them closely. I’m interested in discussions of school year calendars and I can see teen driving regulations on the horizon.
I don’t know what I’ll learn a year from now. I just know I look forward to every day, every change, and every new experience with my kids — and hope I remember as many moments along the way as I can.
Let’s be honest, I’ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there’s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at email@example.com, and you might see your thoughts in print in an upcoming issue of the Pioneer.