Alice in Wonderland, written in 1865 by Lewis Carroll (who would turn a youthful 183 today), is considered the best example of the literary nonsense genre. In such writing, the effect of nonsense is often caused by an excess of meaning, as opposed to a lack of it. By that definition, parenting is full of nonsense. And because life with kids is often as long and strange a trip as Alice's, I've rounded up my favorite snippets from the story that could just as easily describe my day to day.
“How puzzling all these changes are! I'm never sure what I'm going to be, from one minute to another.”
Pregnancy in a nutshell. Toddlers. Teenagers. Every person in my house when they get hungry.
“If you don't know where you are going, any road can take you there.”
There's nothing that can truly prepare you for being a parent. No books, no classes, not even time spent with other people's kids. Because the only alternative is being scared shitless, I've found great comfort in admitting that I have no idea what I'm doing. Yes, I'm doing my best. Yes, my kids are happy and healthy. But on any given day, I'm blowing through intersections, and driving in circles. There's no map, barely even a compass.
“How long is forever?"
"Sometimes, just one second.”
The era of life filled with nose wiping, kid slinging, and snack preparing can feel a little Groundhog Day-esque. Yet as I recently dug to the bottom of the toy box, I turned up Sophie the Giraffe, a former "don't leave home without it" of the my 3 year old's. Surely, I've noted that she's no longer a baby. But when exactly did that happen? Wasn't it just last week I was plucking that overpriced dog toy off the floor and back into her chubby hand after she launched it there 400 times? (Clearly she's my second child.) Nothing bends time and space quite as much as raising a kid.
“We're all mad here.”
The undertaking of raising a human is madness. From day one, you've signed up to send your heart out into the world with a bagged lunch and double knotted shoes. It's a job which when done best, leaves you little job to do at all. It's beautiful and terrifying. Rewarding and draining. And it would hardly be worth it any other way.
(*This also applies to exceedingly long car trips.)
“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.”
I venture to guess there is no group of people more used to being told they're doing it wrong than parents. Unsolicited advice lurks everywhere from waiting rooms to the grocery store line. While it's usually dished out with the finest of intentions, it gets exhausting none the less.
“Curiouser and curiouser!”
Curiosity and made up words. A solid definition of years 1-4.
“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
Are there times I wish I could spend a Saturday in bed watching back to back episodes of Law and Order:SVU? Do I sometimes fantasize about dropping everything and spending a weekend in a city eating at restaurants that don't have a kids menu? Bet your boots. But would I trade it for being woken up by a brown eyed sprite with wild hair who asks, "Mama, the sun is not awake yet. But can we go downstairs? I think I have to poop." Hardly. Yesterday was great. But there's no going back. And that's ok by me.
“It is better to be feared than loved.”
Ok. Not this one, I guess.