My life before having a baby was full of knowing exactly what I’d do when I have a baby. You see, my husband and I were the last of our group of friends to have a child so I felt like I had already had my first with theirs (which is a ridiculous thought, I know). I was sure I would automatically know how to navigate around this parenting thing and my baby and I will be in sync.
Fast-forward to having that baby and – in a shocking turn of events – I was wrong. I did not feel “in sync” with anyone after having my child. I had no clue what was going on. Here I was, with this tiny-human who came out of my body, and I didn’t know what to do with it, err, him.
I’m at the point now, almost three years later, where I can laugh at myself and my ridiculous thinking. I’ve been compiling a list of things I said I’d do versus what I’m actually doing in this parenting world. I’m sure many of you will nod your heads and agree that you too said similar things. I can’t be the only on who had all had the answers before I had my child.
- What I said: My kid will not watch television until he’s at least two-years-old and then after that, only half-hour at a time.
What I do: My kid watched television before he was two, all right. Since he turned two, he’s been watching more than a half-hour of television at a time. No, I’m not in the habit of sticking him in front of the television for hours on end and no, I do not use my television as a babysitter. However, sometimes this mom has had enough and that television is going to give this mom a break for just a little bit.
- What I said: I will be sure to always have homemade snacks at home.
What I do: Turns out, I’m no Martha Stewart. I make muffins for my kid and freeze them. That’s it. Sometimes I’ll make apple and pear sauce for him, but I haven’t made that in a while. My son eats goldfish crackers, peanut-butter crackers, granola bars, and fruit bars all bought from the store. I try to get the ones with the least amount of sugar and I do my best to get healthier stuff, but I don’t fret about it like I thought I would if I don’t. My house is pretty healthy overall. A non-homemade snack isn’t going to make or break anything.
- What I said: My kid will listen to what I say.
What I do: I bang my head on the wall and curse myself for saying such foolish things. Of course my kid isn’t listening to what I say, he’s not even three! I shouldn’t be any more shocked when he won’t be listening to me at thirteen either. I don’t know what I thinking. Sure he listens to what we say and sometimes, but I certainly do not have an overly compliant child. And it’s not just my husband and I that our son doesn’t listen to, it’s everyone.
- What I said: I shouldn’t have to use a bribing tool to get my kid to do something.
What I do: I use bribing tools. All. The. Time. I do, and I’m not ashamed to say it. How else am I going to get this little terror to get off the floor in the middle of the mall? I’ll tell you how: with one of those store-bought granola bars, that’s how.
- What I said: I’ll always make sure to pay attention to anything my kid has to say.
What I do: I smile and think about how much longer this story is going to go on because I’m not really understanding what he’s talking about and many of the words he’s using have not yet been entered into the English vocabulary. I acknowledge him and I answer him and I hope I don’t agree to something I shouldn’t be agreeing to.
- What I said: We’ll have order in our house. How hard can it be to set ground rules?
What I do: Okay, what am I even talking about here? Order? Like, military? I have no clue. What I think I meant was that my home would be peaceful and calm. I say this is as if I’ve never stepped foot in a house with kids before. For some reason, I thought I’d be able to maintain this so-called calmness in my own home. I seemed to have forgotten that I’m a highly anxious person. I’m impulsive and slightly neurotic. Where, in any of that, can I find “peace and calm”? Like me, our son thrives on structure so we do our best to keep schedules and rituals. There are rules, no doubt, but some are bent more than others.
- What I said: I’ll be a pretty strict mom, making sure my child always follows through
What I do: I pick my battles. This ties in with #6. We try to get our son to follow through, but let’s face it, he’s a toddler. He is not going to follow through with everything so I can either drive myself and the rest of my family crazy or I can pick my battles with this guy. I honestly thought I’d be able to get my kid to do anything I asked him to do. I don’t know why I thought I would be able to do this. I’m not sure how I convinced myself that I would be different than any other mother in this world, but I did. And now I know that’s not true.
- What I said: My child will never sleep in my bed with me.
What I do: We try not to make it a habit, but our son has slept in the bed with us. Sometimes, when he wakes in the middle of the night and is inconsolable, we bring him into bed with us and although it may take a while for him to get to sleep, he is quiet. I have also napped with him. I feel like he’s slowly starting to phase out naps and I am not ready for that. Instead of losing a nap and dealing with an overtired maniac, I suggest that he nap with mommy, and he is all for it.
You see, I’m human and I make mistakes. I’m learning that it’s okay to make mistakes. My son is healthy and happy. What I said I would or wouldn’t do before he came into our lives makes no difference. I can dwell on not following through, or I can give that up and just be happy my kid is happy.
Our new mantra is to set positive examples and not everything needs to be set in stone. Some rules may be made up on the go while others are bent for the time being.
For more Parenting Revelations, come read: Why We Should All Put Down that “How To Be A Parent” Book