This Too Shall Pass and 10 Other Lies Moms Told Me
Moms love to give advice. Unfortunately, not all of it is helpful – or true. Like my mother telling me not to trust a man with long pinky nails, and that I should never let anyone see me on the toilet. There is one piece of advice that moms from all walks of life seem to agree on, though. The holy grail of human-raising wisdom that’s been passed down since the days when moms lived with kids in caves: “This too shall pass.”
Those words are the parental panacea for everything from sleepless nights to tantrums to the my-kid-likes-to-eat-his-toenails stage. Just hearing them can dry your tears and erase all worries that your toddler is going to grow up to be a serial killer. For me, they felt like a thunder jacket during a violent storm, hugging me tight with reassuring hope that whatever I was going through would eventually end. But it didn’t. Instead, I just had more moments I wished would pass, and another mom telling me those moments would pass. I began to think I was doing something wrong. All I did was jump from one crap moment to another, until I finally realized, this too will apparently not pass.
Yes, your baby’s one crabby week of teething will pass, but did you know there are 19 more teeth! And sure, your child is tantrum-y because it’s a Wonder Week (that magical time when they take a large developmental leap and turn into baby Zuul), but there are 936 weeks of growth and development in the 18 years they live with you! It never stops. Which got me thinking, what other lies have well-intentioned moms (bless their hearts) told me that may need to be rethought?
Well, to name a few…
1. When a baby is born, a mother is born.
Oh really? Where is she? Does she come out after the baby? Because I could really use her help.
2. Kids learn languages really fast.
That’s funny, because my daughter is five and still says “penis butter and jelly.” Granted, I don’t correct her because it’s the small pleasures in parenthood.
3. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
Then when am I supposed to poop, chisel off spit-up, and look at cute pictures of my baby?
4. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for.
My son just took the insole of his shoe out, folded in half, put it in his mouth and said, “I’m eating a sandwich.” Which I guess is kind of genius.
5. Your kid will love Frozen.
They won’t just love it, they’ll wanna to skin Elsa and wear her all day, every day. For the rest of their lives. What is Disney putting in these movies that make kids want to Silence of the Lambs these characters?
6. You have to potty-train your kids by 2.5 or you’ll look negligent.
Some moms hold their babies over toilets before they can walk, while others give chocolate and stickers as rewards. I told my kids to stay in diapers for as long as possible because I wipe the wrong way and was petrified of teaching them. So they both potty-trained themselves, because they wanted to copy the other kids in school, and to spite me.
7. Kids say the darndest things.
Sure, if you think “Your boobies are weird and long” is cute. Otherwise, I think they say the most soul-crushing things, mixed with the most grammatically incorrect things.
8. Let them learn how to dress themselves.
Sounds great until your kid is walking around in a dress over a skirt over pants with a sparkly tutu on top and rain boots. Am I fostering independence or raising one of those women on the news with 36 cats?
9. You’re doing great, mama.
You sure ‘bout that? Because I’ll wipe myself with the empty toilet paper cardboard before I’ll put on a new roll, if that gives you any indication of the kind of exhausted mom I am. I was a sinking ship and saying that to me was like telling someone who jumped out of a plane with no parachute, “You got this.”
10. It’s just the terrible twos, they’ll grow out of it.
Yeah, they’ll grow out of it and into the three-nager threes, then eff-you-mom fours, which leads to the feisty-fives, sassy sixes and sevens, I-like-my-friends-more-than-you eights, I-want-to-be-a-big-kid nines, and Tina-made-me-do-it tens, and then PUBERTY.
No matter how well-intended the advice is, maybe what we’ve always been told isn’t the best thing to say to a parent down in the kid-dumps today, when we have less support than ever (plus that whole pandemic/divided country/earth melting thing consuming us). Perhaps instead of platitudes, false encouragement, and pats on the back, we could provide resources for parent education that teach how to regulate children and struggling parents. Or offer websites and social media accounts that normalize raising kids in different ways, acknowledge that milestones can happen at different times, and share realistic, impactful self-care tips. Or maybe we can just hold the baby for a tired mom once in a while.
Only when parents have all of that, in addition to love and support, can they really see all the wonderful moments that make the crappy ones not matter, and give the best version of themselves to their kiddos. As much as it feels like it sometimes, raising tiny humans is not an evil joke God is playing on all of us. Rather, it’s a rite of passage we must endure in order to have these magical creatures and all their wild and messy love in our lives, because as another more useful adage goes, nothing worthwhile comes easy. So to all the moms out there, instead of always waiting for something to pass, seek out strategies that will help you stay calm and carry on. So you can enjoy one of the most worthwhile things in life, before that passes by too.
Martini Paratore is a comedian turned mom/weeper/oversharer. She wishes she were a mom in the 80s, because that sounds easier. You can follow her on Instagram @MartiniADay
PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images. Additional photos provided by Martini Paratore.