Baby Borrowers scared me! And I’m an everyday Mom to two boys neither of which were born while I was a teenager. I caught a marathon of the show on WeTV (who is on Twitter, by the way) this past weekend. My Husband and I watched a few episodes together with the boys. Of course, when I say that we watched anything with the boys, I mean that we caught bits and pieces while playing, telling the children not to lick each other and laughing a lot as is the usual in our home.
What I did actually get to watch, comprehend and consider left me feeling very thoughtful all weekend. I understand the point of the show: to show teens who otherwise have no idea what parenthood is like that it isn’t all fun and games. I can personally vouch for that idea as well. Parenthood is amazingly fun and rewarding but it is also a lot of hard work and, at times, it can be really heartbreaking. I feel sorry for those who go into parenthood with the preconceived notion that it will be a breeze.
In fact, I went into parenting with my own preconceived notions. Not that it would be easy, exactly, but that it would be easier than it really is. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way, trust me! I never knew how prolonged sleep deprivation (caused by newborns, teething infants, sick toddlers or curious preschoolers (thus far in my life)) can eventually catch up with you. Sure, I pulled some all-nighters in college (some for school work, some for, well, not) but they were chosen by me. These all-nighters are not chosen by me! All the same, the snuggles make it worth it in the end. Right? Someone tell me I’m right. I’ve had little to no sleep for two nights in a row so I’m kind of upside down. I digress.
As I sat and watched the show, I really got to thinking if this was a fair experiment for these teens. Not many people, except those that either marry into children or adopt (which is funny that I’m writing about it here) are thrown into parenthood somewhere in the middle of a stage of life. What do I mean? As a mother who is pregnant (or one who adopts a newborn domestically), you get that first day experience. You grow together. You fumble through the stages together with the experience of the previous stages behind you. I was better able to deal with nighttime teething drama because of the newborn sleep issues. I was better able to deal with nighttime sick toddler drama because of the nighttime teething drama. And so, especially when it came time to dealing with toddlers and preschoolers and then the school-aged children, I thought it was quite unfair. These teens didn’t have the benefit of having lived with these children for two to six years, to know the nuances of their personalities, to know what forms of discipline really worked with them or how to deliver it in an authoritative fashion. Furthermore, those children had no respect for the teens as they were not their daily caregivers. Disciplining and comforting were very difficult because of all of those things put together.
You don’t know how to be a parent until you are one. That means that watching someone else’s kids, even for a few days, doesn’t magically teach you the ins and outs of parenting. Quite honestly, I’d like to see some adults who don’t have children but think that they are experts on parenting go through an experience like this one. Or, even better, let’s throw some thirty-something adults who are out having more sex, protected or not, than these teens were likely having and see how they fair with their high-paying careers and a snot-nosed child on their hip.
I’m all for educating teens on safe sex practices and the consequences of their actions. But I think we need to do it in a fair way. And so, if you were scared by the show, I encourage you not to totally freak out and dismiss your ability to parent. It is a hard job but the show was unfairly stacked against those teens. Trust me. As a mother who figures things out over and over again, sometimes on a daily basis, the show wasn’t realistic at all.
Photo Credit: @2008, Jenna Hatfield. Yes, that’s my mad/sad baby!