I used to be so fucking judgmental about parenting. I was SURE that I’d be the best parent ever. (Pause for laughter to subside). Now, I’m a lot more knowledgeable, a lot less judgy, and have a LOT more grace for parents doing the hardest work in the world with little to no thanks, and NO operating manual.
I love kids. So creative, curious, and hilarious. (But also sticky?) In grad school, I worked as a nanny and at a local daycare. The boy I nannied is now a whole teenager, and that’s a lot to process some days. Wasn’t I JUST asking you to put your underwear on, not backwards? I’m pretty sure that was like a week ago.
I’ve also spent a lot of time around parents on the internet. I used to be a member (even an administrator) of some geeky mommy groups on Facebook, despite not yet being a parent myself. At the time, I was looking forward to parenthood and actively tried to conceive for over a year before leaving my abusive marriage.
After that, I still planned to be a parent. Perhaps I’d get a sperm donor and be a single parent, or maybe I’d meet someone else down the road who wanted to be a parent.
As time went on, my decision to be biologically child-free by choice became more and more solidified, and now I’m not planning to have a baby at all. I plan to foster teens in the coming decades, but for now, the closest to parenthood I’ll be is caring for a very stubborn corgi and a kitten who eats the houseplants.
I’m no longer in the mommy groups, but a majority of my online friends are parents. Not only that, but they’re parents trying to break generational cycles of abuse and toxicity. They don’t spank their kids. They take a breath before they respond, because they are learning not to yell. They share the funny moments, the awe-inspiring moments, the frustrating moments.
And they are re-living some of their own traumas as their children exist peacefully at the ages that they weren’t able to have peace. Part of the reason I’m not having bio kids is because I don’t think I have the capacity to face my trauma that hard, that fast, that constantly.
I am so grateful for these friends for doing the work of being better parents.
I see parents every single day navigating life with their kids, learning to be gentle parents, talking about how hard it can be to navigate their growing tweens and teens’ new normals and new struggles.
And every time I see a parent TRYING, it’s healing me.
Every time I see a parent taking in their kid’s queer classmate whose parents kicked them out, it’s giving me hope.
Every time I see a parent offering their kids support and openness even though I know they want to go lock their kid in a basement to protect them from the world, it’s making me feel loved by proxy.
Every time I see a parent exemplify the meaning of unconditional love, and APOLOGIZE to their kids, my heart grows three sizes.
My parents tried, sometimes. Maybe even a lot of the time. But when I tried to tell them I was hurt they denied and didn’t own it. They have never apologized to me.
I had a traumatic childhood – not physically, but emotionally and mentally. I was gaslit, guilt-tripped, called worthless, denied agency, parentified, and so much more.
Seeing a parent try, seeing parents own up to pain they cause, seeing parents love their kids…
It could make me feel jealous, but it doesn’t. It makes me feel normal. It makes me feel loved. Because my trauma was never supposed to happen to me, and I see all these parents modeling what it could have been like.
I made it out. I made a life for myself that is amazing. I have everything I need.
And part of this life is deciding I’m not going to have bio kids so I can continue to re-focus energy on taking care of myself the way I was never taken care of as a child.
I love kids.
I love parents.
And I love you all for the generational healing you’re doing.