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Parenting Perspectives: Becoming a parent a weird responsibility

Becoming a parent is weird. It hasn't been bad, really. In fact, I like being a mom considerably more than I thought I would. But the transition from being just Alicia to being someone's mother has been very, very strange. There are the normal th...

Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft

Becoming a parent is weird.

It hasn't been bad, really. In fact, I like being a mom considerably more than I thought I would.

But the transition from being just Alicia to being someone's mother has been very, very strange.

There are the normal things that are weird that seem to come with parenting for everyone - licking my thumb and using it to clean dried ketchup off my toddler's face, no longer being grossed out by bodily functions, or listening to cartoon soundtracks even when I'm alone in the car.

But more alarming are the unexpected changes that crept up on me. In just a little more than three years, I feel like I've become an entirely different person and along the way become a very different kind of parent than I expected to be.

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When I was pregnant, I planned to raise my child on only super healthy food. Now I'm like "Eh, that chicken nugget hasn't been on the floor for that long. Go ahead and eat it."

And although I'm a lifelong feminist and work hard to instill in my daughter that her intelligence and personality are much more important than her looks, I was shocked to find myself watching an episode of "Toddlers and Tiaras" and saying aloud, "We should enter Callie in beauty pageants. She's totally prettier than any of these other kids."

And though I'd intended to be one of those parents who spent a lot of time engaging their child, playing and reading and doing art projects, I'm incredibly grateful that I ended up with an independent kid who'd rather spend a few hours in her room playing and singing with her imaginary friends instead of spending all her time with her tired, old mom.

In general, I feel like so far I've definitely turned out to be a more relaxed parent than I expected I'd be. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself cool, but I think I do a decent job of balancing caring about the important things while letting other stuff slide.

It's certainly been a peculiar experience watching the effect the parent I've become has had on my child. When she does something weird, like insisting she only get in or out of her bed from a specific side of it, I think "Now, what did I do that makes her odd like that?"

Or when she does something awesome, like being a particularly good sleeper, I think, "What did we do that makes her like this? And how can I patent that system to make millions off of it?"

When she's particularly kind or perceptive, like randomly offering a hug to a family member who's having a tough time, I wonder if something in my parenting made her that sensitive to the needs of others.

I realize that it's silly of me to attribute every aspect of her personality to me and my parenting - after all, my parents aren't to blame for my shortcomings, and I know a fair number of people who turned out well in spite of their parents, not because of them.

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But I am particularly conscious that having a child is one way of sending a ripple effect out to the world - that I try to raise her well so she can go out and change the world for the better and perhaps choose to raise children who will do the same.

In the same way, being a parent has made me more conscious of the world around us and what I can do to make it a better place for my daughter to live in. My day-to-day decisions carry more weight because they're directly affecting a tiny human who depends on me, and my big decisions seem more important because they're steering the direction of more than just my life.

It's odd to feel such obligation with every day. It's strange to watch a human being grow up, knowing that I have such an impact on who she turns out to be.

And it is downright bizarre to feel so accountable to a person who didn't exist just a few years ago.

But mostly, it's just weird. And that's kind of awesome.

Related Topics: FAMILY
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