Before I had kids, I had a certain vision of what motherhood would look like.
I pictured my family sitting down to organic, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free picnic lunches in the park with matching hipster outfits — plaid shirts, slouchy beanies, and all. I imagined reading deconstructed fairy tales to my quiet, angelic children while the iPad collected dust in the closet. And when I saw other mothers running after their screaming children, I silently judged them.
But three years and two children later, I’m waving the white flag. My real experience of motherhood is far from being exactly what I pictured — and that's okay.
Here are just a few of the things I said I'd never do as a mom, and why I ended up doing them anyway:
1. Let my children eat junk food.
When I was pregnant, I swore I’d always have healthy, wholesome snacks on hand for my kids. Well, my 2-year-old knows what fries are (and is quite fond of them) and has never met a sweet she didn’t like.
But while she has had exposure to items I’m not proud of, her diet is primarily organic and plant-based. In fact, on a trip home from the grocery store one day, she turned down a cookie in lieu of collard greens and kale. Be still my heart.
Overall, I've realized that teaching my children good habits far outweighs the few junk-food moments they experience. And I'm proud of that.
2. Forget to shower or eat.
Before I had babies, I always wondered how people could forget the bare necessities when they became parents. I’d look at moms and secretly think Wow, you’ve really let yourself go. I thought I’d never be like that.
And yet some days I now stand covered in puke as I sniff myself, trying to remember when last I showered. Let’s not even talk about the days it’s 3 p.m. and I realize I haven’t eaten yet. (How does that happen to someone who loves food as much as I do?!)
On days like this, I pray for bedtime and remind myself that even though I’m a mess, my children are well taken care of.
3. Let the baby sleep in our bed.
My daughter was born via C-section, which rendered me fairly useless for the better part of three months. Because it hurt to lift her out of the bassinet, she quickly made her way into our bed — and there she stayed for four months.
A year and a half later, when my son was born, my husband and I repeated the same process. But despite my pre-baby worries, our relationship was actually stronger than ever! Let’s be honest, in those early weeks, nothing is going on in your bed besides sleep anyway.
The truth is, co-sleeping saved my sanity for the first couple of months. I could nurse on demand and fall back to sleep relatively easily during the night.
We did make a conscious decision to transition both children into rooms of their own at the 4- to 5-month mark, so we didn’t have teenagers taking up residence in our bed. Now, both our toddler and infant sleep peacefully in their own beds through the night.
My original fear of never being able to spend time with my husband again was unfounded. Now, we "Netflix and chill" whenever we want.
4. Use an electronic device to defuse my child.
Taking a toddler to a restaurant is an experience that will likely leave you shaking in a corner watching your dinner freeze to death slowly as you try and corral the hurricane that is your toddler.
So I’ve definitely been guilty of handing over my phone to my screaming child and putting on an episode (or three) of Bubble Guppies so that I can inhale my dinner with the fervor of a Survivor castaway.
Sometimes you have to pick your battles. I don’t think electronics will be the ruin of my toddler, as long as she doesn’t spend every waking moment on one.
5. Let my child leave the house looking anything less than awesome.
Before I was a mom, I swear I spent entire workdays pinning the cutest baby looks for my children.
I thought my daughter would rock top knots with funky leggings and denim tops and my son would showcase bow-ties and suspenders with tiny fedoras. I thought I’d coordinate all of our outfits so people could instantly tell we were a family — as though the fact that we were walking around with a double stroller wasn’t a dead giveaway.
The reality? My infant often leaves the house in pajamas and my toddler in all colors of the uncoordinated rainbow. They aren't dressed like baby models and I don’t think they own anything name-brand.
The fact is that children like to crawl, run, and dirty themselves in ways you never dreamed possible. So I’m not sending my children to play in items I fear they’ll destroy or that will restrict their movement. My children are happy and that’s really all I want for them.
6. Consider putting my child on a leash.
In all fairness I haven’t actually done this, but I’ve certainly entertained the idea.
Imagine me in all my postpartum glory chasing after a runaway toddler with an infant car seat in hand. If that isn’t enough to make you contemplate a toddler leash, I don’t know what is.
7. Yell at my child.
I’ve gone toe-to-toe with a toddler. Not one of my finer moments (there may have even been some growling in there as well). Some days are hard, and most times toddlers don’t know when to quit.
But no matter how crazy it gets, I always make sure to end the day with a hug and kiss goodnight and remind my children how much I love them.
Parenting is tricky and navigating the waters is tough for even the most seasoned veterans. So I decided to move past all these supposed "missteps" by realizing that I'm raising some pretty cool little humans — and all of the "stuff" that happens along the way is just details.
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