How guilty are you of saying “Oh, I’ll NEVER do that when I have kids” waaaaay before you ever have kids. Guilty party here! I had this image in mind of the things I would do and wouldn’t do. Not intentionally being judgy of any one else, more so just gathering my thoughts, senses, and ways of parenting. Kind of like when you walk in to a friend’s house and gather some of their decorating inspiration, then in to another friend’s house and take some of their ideas, too, then mash it altogether to form your own sense of style. That was my idea of parenting. Take a little bit of this genius, and that genius and have the perfect little world. And we aaaallllll know how our ideas of having kids are exactly how we’d imagined.
‘Cause, you know, if my image were perfect then I would’ve had a very cuddly, quiet baby for the first 3 months of life who did nothing but eat, sleep, and lay on my chest. Colic wouldn’t exist and the 6 hours a day of crying would be replaced with more cuddling. I’d never have to experience what a temper tantrum was. I’d have a kid who ate every thing I put in front of him rather than throwing it on the floor. I’d be a stay at home mom, and never have to worry about money (or day care would be free). Allergies wouldn’t exist. Nutramigen would’ve been $20 a can instead of $40. And I’d be a certified doctor, all knowledgeable of pediatric medicine, the moment I birthed a child.
But since the aforementioned doesn’t ever happen, I decided to begin making mental lists of my personal do’s and dont’s of my own parenting “style” weeks, months, years, before having my own child.
Here’s what I say I’d never do, or what would never happen.
1) My kid won’t walk around with snot hanging out of his nose.
Reality: Wiping snot can be such a fight some days. I get what I can. But often trying to wipe it just means I spread it across his face. And which looks worse? Snot coming from just his nose, or snot from nose to eyeball to mouth, because he’s screaming and jerking his head from side to side at the speed of light? So if you see Blake with green streaming from his nose, either I tried…..or just took one look at him and gave up without even trying at all.
2) My kid is going to have a wardrobe from GAP, J.Crew, and Janie and Jack.
Reality: Sure, he has clothing from those stores. As long as they are second hand. I can either get 10 shirts from Once Upon A Child for $20, or one shirt from J.Crew for the same price. With as fast as he grows, I pick option number 1. As much as I wanted the best, most cutest dressed kid in town, I can make do with what I can find that’s used, and he’s still looks like the cutest kid! I mean, I don’t even spend $20 on a shirt for myself, so I’m not sure why I ever thought I’d do the same with him. It isn’t worth it.
3) My kid isn’t going to need 2,000 toys to play with. His toys will be minimal, and I will clean them out often to reduce clutter.
Reality: People give us many of the toys their children have grown out of. Admittedly, I also buy him quite a bit. I said I’d never be that parent who just buys and buys toys, but, you know what gets me? The excitement that I get as a mom when I know how he will react when he sees what I bought for him. It just never fails. When I unwrap the new toy from the packaging and hand it to him his face just lights up the room. His feet dance, he squeals, and he melts my heart. Yes, I do it for those sweet, sweet smiles. Even if he plays with it for 1 day, it was just all worth it. (And of course I can always resell it back to Once Upon a Child. Win, win!)
4) My kid will have to learn right from wrong–what to touch and what not to touch. Baby proofing is silly.
Reality: Why did I think this? Because I envisioned having the perfect child who listened the first time I said “Don’t touch that.” (MC Hammer’ish style) Why did I think this would happen? BECAUSE I IMAGINED IT THAT WAY. Duh. It seems children don’t have an automatic discipline “on” switch. Crazy, right? We baby proofed cabinets, stairs, and sockets the day he learned to walk and explore because it was exhausting running around closing every thing after him, and to stop him from electrocuting himself. E-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g, I say.
5) My kid won’t eat in his stroller. This way, I can avoid the dirty stroller.
Reality: This idea didn’t last long. The best way to entertain a kid when shopping is to give him FOOOOOOOOD. And the best time to clean the stroller after this is apparently….NEVER. Because once I’ve unloaded the groceries from the car I have hundreds of other things to tend to inside the house, and the last thing on my mind is the dirty stroller I put back in the van in the Target parking lot. (Besides, what am I supposed to do with my kid while I clean the stroller? It isn’t as if he loves sitting in his car seat while I fiddle around cleaning. Psh) So the food builds, and builds, and builds. Right now my stroller looks like I pulled it out of a dumpster filled with sand. And mud. Ugh. I’m so embarrassed right now. At this point the thing needs a pressure washer taken to it.
6) My kid won’t eat in his carseat. This way, I can avoid the dirty carseat.
Reality: I actually do pretty okay with this one. I do not let Blake eat or drink in his carseat unless someone is sitting back there with him in case he chokes. If Michael and I are in the car together sometimes I go back there to feed him. Let’s just say only about half of the food he tries to eat actually makes it in his mouth. I suppose my initial theory in never wanting a kid to eat in the car seat is because I imagined he’d only ever be hungry at home, no matter how many hours he’d gone without food. Like, being in the car just makes him full. For no reason.
Side note: threw out his old carseat because it had a funky smell. Turns out that all those “swimmer” diapers for swim lessons aren’t really absorbent like diapers. What do you know? Since we lived within minutes of our swim lessons I never put him in a regular diaper for the drive home. WHY DON’T PEOPLE TELL YOU THIS STUFF? Gosh! Can they please put a disclaimer on the tags of those things? *Warning: Perfect for pool use, but non-absorbent for pee and poop*
Am I the only one who had to learn this the hard way? Someone please say no. Even if you’re lying to me.
7) When my kid comes, I will love my dogs and want my dogs around just as much as I do now, despite what all you friends who already have kids tell me!
Reality: I still love my dogs, but I’m also very much over them! There’s too much dog hair that I don’t have as much free time to clean up any more. Sometimes I forget to feed them breakfast. Sometimes I forget they need to go potty. They bark A LOT. I love them. They drive me crazy. I love them. They drive me crazy. Any one want 2 sweet dogs?
8. My kid won’t make a huge mess. My house will never be bombarded with kid toys. I will hide it well with every thing in neat, organized bins and it will stay that way. Picture perfect.
Reality: This is my living room right now.
The way you think you’ll be and the way you think you’ll parent isn’t reality until it all just…. happens. In the moment of all the chaos you think differently, and sometimes not clearly. But even more so, in the moment, your kid thinks differently than you!
To the future parent, I say, don’t “plan” on how you’ll be when you become a parent. You can easily make yourself feel like a failure. And you’re not a failure! I’m not a failure. I just changed my mind on every thing I said. 😉 It’s all gravy though. I said these things. They didn’t happen. And I’m okay with that.
All you need to plan on is loving that baby with every fiber of your being. And let’s face it, that isn’t very hard to do.