It’s been a full year since I removed the government-issued blackberry from my hip and replaced it with a baby. Like whoa. I’ve been trying to think of something profound to write about this change, but that requires an uninterrupted string of logical thought, something I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the ability to do. But the good news is that disjointed snippets of random thoughts are exactly what the Internet is about, right?! Writing in transitional paragraphs is soooo last century(ies). So rather than bore you with just that, I give you…
The Top 10 Ways Being a Parent is Like Congress
10. You become immune to the poop. Government is full of crap policy options that will always make someone unhappy, so after a while, you stop noticing the regular everyday crappiness and focus solely on avoiding massive blowouts. Just like I can go hours without noticing poop under my fingernail and be pretty nonplussed when I do see it, people who work in government know that their days are bound to involve some kind of poop and there’s no sense getting all upset about it. That’s why a question about whether the negative tone of Washington bothers them is a silly thing to ask. It’s a poopy business, but someone has to do it.
9. Sometimes you have to cry it out. As I’ve said before, it’s easy to have lofty ideals about parenting when you’re not down in the trenches of sleepless nights and irritable babies. It’s also easy to have lofty ideals about how people in Washington should stop the fighting and just learn to compromise. Sometimes the best solutions come when people are willing to walk away from the table and let their opposition cry it out.
8. Always have distractions ready. Just because I played on the floor with O for two straight hours doesn’t mean he won’t climb my leg and cry for the five minutes I need to wash the dishes. So I have a long list of trivial items (spatulas, crackers, ripping everything out of my purse) to buy me a few minutes to get things done. Congress does this to us all the time. They’re like, ‘Look! Death panels, corporate jets, war on Christmas!’ And then when we’re distracted, they get the real stuff done.
7. No sleep. You cannot truly understand sleep deprivation until you’ve spent weeks (or months) getting three non-consecutive hours a night. I remember being unable to remember simple words. And I was straight up bitchy. Many of the people running our country do this for years. I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m just saying most of them do a pretty damn good job considering they never sleep.
6. Patience. This will probably make me sound like a bad parent, but watching O learn to crawl KILLED me. I just didn’t have the patience for it, and on more than one occasion, may have gotten down on all fours and said, “SEEEE, it’s soooo easy!!!” (I am doing my best to chill now that he’s starting to walk.) Congress can cause most people to have the same reaction. But the truth is the vast majority of good legislation takes years and years to pass, often longer than most staffers (and a good share of Members) are there. It’s frustrating, but like babies, Congress was wired that way for a reason.
5. It always changes. Every time I think I have something down in parenting, O changes the rules and I have to start all over again. Fortunately for me, when he gets angry because I won’t let him play in the garbage/won’t let him pull the dog’s hair out/won’t let him shove his hand in his diaper, he can’t vote me out of office.
4. The greatest victories are hard fought. In the pre-natal classes Tedd and I took, I could swaddle that fake baby like a mofo. Fast forward to Tedd and me sweating (and me crying) trying to swaddle a screaming, wriggling baby at 3 AM on the bedroom floor. But you better believe once I figured it out, I was the best damn swaddler that ever swaddled. All of the hardest parenting battles, including many, many fails, have led to my greatest lessons. It’s hard to remember this when you’re in the middle of it and think you’re wasting time. But when you look back, you know it was worth all the struggle.
3. Funny names for stuff. Baba, binkie, wawa, moomoo juice? Filibuster, hotline, franking, omnibus? Although now I get confused and may think omnibus is some cartoon dinosaur bus that eats both plants and animals.
2. Pulling fast ones. I’ll admit, I try to trick O all the time. Like, look a doggie!, and then I remove the chokable-sized object from his grubby paws. Or kind of like how I could only think of nine ways parenting is like Congress and hoped you wouldn’t notice. I guess Congress does this, too.
1. Angry because they care. The other day, I almost smacked a kid who tried to slam a lid on O’s fingers at baby gym. I thought, who am I? What is wrong with me? Moms as a species can be an angry bunch and often get a bad rap. But it’s only because there is no fiercer passion than a momma’s love for her kid and occasionally it just comes out wrong. People in Congress get a bad rap, too. So next time you think someone in Congress is an a-hole, remember this: it’s possible they are, but the vast majority of them – especially staff – are there because they truly care about the country.
And I miss working with them terribly.
This piece was cross-posted with permission from One Flew Over the Playpen blog.