I remember learning that we were expecting our first child like it was yesterday. Those two glorious pink lines showed up on the test. I ran running and screaming like a crazy woman out the back door for my husband who was walking the dog. And immediately the images of picture perfect parenting popped into my head. No candy for my children. Fast food? No way! No yelling, no spanking and I would ALWAYS talk to them in a Mary Poppins style voice. Then our first beauty was born, life happened and I learned a very important aspect of parenting very quickly…SURVIVAL MODE. All those things I said I’d never do? Screw that! With two kids just over two years apart, on top of working full time and *trying* to maintain some version of myself that didn’t solely involve PJ’s and a top knot (okay, still failing at letting go of the top knot!)…I threw in the towel and reneged on some of the very things I swore I’d never do.
- Never let my lovelies leave the house unless they were perfectly polished Pre-children: I had wondrous dreams of my kiddos outfits looking like something straight out of a GAP advertisement. Perfectly polished, hair neatly combed and rocking the latest in fashion. Of course they would only wear the best of the best…who cared how much it cost!
Reality: Most days my first grader would rather wear a hoodie and sporty leggings than the latest in frilly fashion (a-okay with me!). My pre-schooler can be found flaunting her Wonder Woman Halloween costume more often than the adorable outfits I spent hours shopping for. And speaking of shopping…those outfits better be on sale because HELLO stains! Paint. Playdough. Pizza. Oh my! I can usually be found scraping remnants of something chocolate from my littlest’s face before zipping into a store. I quickly gave up on the idea that my children will ever look perfect for more than 5 minutes at a time. My oldest hates her hair done, while my four year old believes she’s mastered doing a bun in her own hair (one less hairdo for me in the morning!). You know what though? They are happy! And regardless of what they look like, that’s a win in itself.
2. Never let my kids know that Pokemon even existed
As a third and fourth grade teacher for the past nine years, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen the fads come and go. The trends in toys each year. The popular cartoons. Some of them are cool. Some of them are not. For me, Pokemon was not. It drove me nuts! I didn’t understand it, the creatures creeped me out and it just seemed- for lack of better terms- dorky! I swore any toys related to this craze would never be allowed in our house. And then one day this fall my first grader came home talking about Pokemon. And I thought I was going.to.die. So what did my husband do? Ran right out and bought her her first pack (of now MANY!). The glare I gave him as he walked through the door could have cut glass (or his arm off that was holding up the pack of cards). But then the weirdest thing happened…my husband handed our little beauty the pack of cards and she was all out giddy! Excited, happy and non-stop grinning! And I was just as excited and giddy to see her like this….all from getting a dumb little pack of cards with crazy made up creatures on them! Needless to say, we are still in the middle of this Pokemon fad. They still drive me nuts, they still creep me out and I still don’t understand it, but I don’t have to. I understand they make my daughter happy and connect with new friends in class and that is pretty cool.
3. NEVER yell at my kiddos
Before children I had high hopes of our daily life appearing straight out of a scene from Mary Poppins. Singing and dancing and twirling our way through life. Ha! If only! I’ve gone toe to toe with a toddler over which pants to wear. I’ve raised my voice when I repeatedly ask them sit in their seats and eat dinner. You didn’t hear me ask you to pick up your toys the first three times? Let me ask you a little louder. Life with kids can get crazy. Am I proud of having to raise my voice with my kids sometimes? No, but I also know that my kids are well behaved in public and at school because we have high expectations at home. At the end of the day my children always know they are loved by us more than anything in the world. We hug, we apologize, we talk, we move on. Tomorrow is a new day.
4. I will never fall for the American Girl trap
Let me just stop right here and say that I was so wrong in saying this. SO.WRONG.
I never had American Girl dolls growing up (deprived, I know!) and I survived just fine. So why did my girls need them? Why did I need to spend $150 on one stinking doll? That was my mentality.
And then “the catalog” came and I realized very quickly that I was falling for the American Girl trap. Two Christmas’ ago we were struggling for ideas (having two girls 28 months apart will do that to you!) and our oldest had asked for the lookalike doll (see how technical I am? I don’t even know what they are called). How much harm could it do to just get her ONE doll. We went for it and it’s gone downhill ever since. This Christmas was dubbed the “Christmas of American Girl” in our household because that’s ALL our girls asked for (that and Pokemon of course). Christmas night as I was sitting on the couch looking around at the tornado of toys that was scattered throughout our living room- I realized that my girls had literally played ALL day with their American Girl stuff. They were creative, they didn’t fight and they used their imagination. How can I argue with that? American Girl hater turned fan right here!
5. Never reward with candy
This just didn’t seem necessary. Wasn’t a high five or a hug enough?If you’re a child, no, it’s not. I can’t even keep track of how many times we’ve had to whip out our treat bucket in order to curve some behavior or offer a quick reward. The worst was when my picky eater preschooler was going through the peak of her phase (or so we thought) and we would have to offer an M&M after every few bites of food. I remember stopping to think “What the hell am I doing?!” It was ridiculous, but you know what? It worked. And it got us through a frustrating time and is no longer necessary. Do my kids eat crap all day everyday? No. I feel like we do a pretty good job of teaching them balance and exposing them to new, healthy foods (two of their favorites are pickled asparagus and venison jerky). But when times get tough there will always be the treat bucket of sugary goodness waiting to bring us back to sanity.
Becoming a mom has made me much less judgemental. Motherhood is a wild, crazy journey. To each their own how they manage to get through it. Sit back, have a glass of wine and admire the wonderful, tiny human beings that you created.
Swear you would never do something as a parent? And you find yourself doing it all the time? Tell us what it is in a comment! Judgement free zone…we’re all in this together!
~Mama in the Mitten