I Was the Perfect Mom … and Then I Had Kids
Four short years. That's how long I've been a parent — just four short years. And, somehow, I am a completely different version of myself than I was before I started procreating. You would think you would know who you are after 25 years, but there's something about gaining the label of “mom” that really changes your whole perspective on things. I thought I knew exactly what it would be like raising kids. I'd watched plenty of reality shows about raising kids, and I'd witnessed parents disciplining their kids in public.
I totally knew what my parenting style was going to be like.
HA! The blissfully unaware always think they know best, don't they? I was the perfect mom … and then I had kids.
Pre-Kids Me: “No kid of mine is going to have screen time before they start school!”
Post-Kids Me: “Dear God, why are you awake at 3 a.m.? No, we are not going to the park. No, you cannot wake up your brother to play. Stop, no, don't go get your Puppy Guitar! Here, here, look, Finding Nemo!”
Pre-Kids Me: “How hard is it to pick up the house once a day? Sure, toys can get cluttered, I understand. But c'mon, just do it before bed.”
Post-Kids Me: [6:00 p.m.] “Is it bedtime yet? [6:20 p.m.] Is it bedtime yet? [6:55 p.m.] Is it bedtime yet? [7:30 p.m.] OHMYGOSH, they're in bed. OK, time to clean the … yeah, no. The Queen is coming over tomorrow? Well, when she sends me some maids like she had when Prince Phillip was a baby, she can criticize my cleaning skills.”
Pre-Kids Me: “Does that mom not hear her kid whining? I can barely grocery shop with that racket. She should leave and take him home and come back later. That will teach him he doesn't control things.”
Post-Kids Me: [To toddler] “I know, honey, I know, the doctor said the antibiotics will kick in soon and your earache will feel better tomorrow. We just need to grab some formula for your brother, an onion for dinner, and a gallon of milk, and then we'll be on the way home. I know, I know, I wish I could just have your dad pick it up on the way home from work, but he's out of town this week, and we have to have these things. Poor sweetie. OK, we're on our way to check out right now!”
Pre-Kids Me: “I will work incredibly hard to get my kids potty trained by 2 years old because there's no reason a kid should be wearing diapers past then.”
Post-Kids Me: “Look, Munchkin, a Big Girl Potty! Don't you want to be a big girl? You don't? Why not? You want to be a baby? Why? Because you want to be like your baby brother? Um, well, sweetie, he's 4 months old. He's a baby — you're not. You're a big girl! Do you, um, want some ice cream? I'll give you ice cream if you go potty on the potty! How about candy? A puppy? A car? PLEASE URINATE IN THIS PINK PLASTIC BOWL. I NEED FEWER DIAPERS IN MY LIFE.”
Clearly, it's easy to be a perfect parent when you don't have any kids to thwart all of your well-thought-out plans and convictions. That's what I think about when I'm out and about with my brood — all the childless perfect parents walking among me — and then I think about all the parents who actually have kids and who are constantly trying things and changing their methods and their previously held ideas on how they would handle certain parenting situations.
That's not to say people without kids can't have valid opinions and ideas on what parenting and child rearing should look like. Some semblance of my original plan remains — it's just that the trial and error involved in getting my kiddos to the finished product has made me realize that there are no absolutes, and you can't know what you would truly do in a situation until it's sitting on your doorstep waiting to be dealt with.
Or, until it's sitting on the bathroom floor surrounded by the contents of an entire bottle of baby lotion, and you have to decide to scold and punish, or laugh and grab a camera.
C'mon … which is it?!