How a Hot Mess Grows a Child

Kids get both hot and messy, so I suppose this should be easy? Welcome to day 4 of Hot Mess Week here at ParentalGrit, where we’re devoting five full days of content in exploration of the social media phenomenon phrase known as “Hot Mess”. We looked at the origins of the word Monday, a can’t-miss around-the-house guide Tuesday, and Wednesday we shared the Hot Mess world of babies. We’re growing the little munchkins from yesterday’s article and contemplating what happens when the babies become children and beyond. Yesterday, I concluded that Hot Mess parents and babies were long lost soulmates, given the propensity for tears, frequent moments of overwhelm, and generally erratic behavior. If babies are the soulmates, children and teenagers are the evil twins. When a Hot Mess decides to reproduce, he or she better be prepared to raise an identically challenged child. Good luck with that.

One of the common occurrences from the Hot Mess school of parenting is the constant issues of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’. Hot Messes, as we defined Monday, have the tendency to perform “spectacularly unsuccessful”; the question then becomes, when the OOPS occur, how to prevent the imitator(s) from repeating the action. Sometimes, in a state of sleep deprivation, a messy word slips out in front of the child. Do as I say, not as I do. Other times, a Hot Mess might dine on Oreos and peanut butter while yelling at the 12 year-old to finish the broccoli. Do as I say, not as I do. And why is mommy having that fourth glass of grape juice?

Another great thing about raising children as a Hot Mess is sharing all of the growing pains your kid is going through. There’s no need for boundaries: when your kid goes through puberty, you’ll be right alongside to comment sarcastically and highlight all points of embarrassment. When your toddler is teething, you’ll be screaming in the middle of the night just as loudly (albeit for different reasons). While the children hit the awkward speed bumps of adolescence, you’ll be side-by-side enduring a bizarre new reality: someone else is the awkward one (but don’t worry, you’ll still be parenting awkwardly). When your child gets upset with your spouse, you’ll join in their disdain for that parent. And when they go through potty-training…well, you’ll feel like what you’re trying to get them to put in the toilet.

The funniest part of Hot Mess parenthood is that we’re always in survival mode. If we can just make it through the sleepless baby nights, if we can just make it through potty-training, if we can just make it through middle school…and on and on. We’re always looking for that shortcut to the next easier phase, only to find that phase is even more challenging than the one before. I really wanted my daughter to move until she started moving. I really wanted her talking until she started talking. And I really wanted her potty-trained until actually potty-training her. Oof. Every new phase presents new difficulties, but the Hot Mess way of life is all about survival.   Oh, and speaking of phases, you know you’re parenting skills are in disarray when you forget EVERYTHING you learned from child one when the next comes along. I literally feel like my second daughter Everly is my first time having a kid. I forgot everything…or I’m too tired to remember.

As we keep hammering away at the Hot Mess life this week, I believe we’ve encountered the underlying theme: survival. It doesn’t matter what the kids ate, only that they ate. It doesn’t matter what time they finally went to bed, only that they actually went to sleep. It makes no difference how you parented them, only that it came with love. Because disorganized and “spectacularly unsuccessful” parenting is still parenting and a cause for celebration in my book. Tune in tomorrow for the final day of Hot Mess week.

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