The other day I was talking to a couple who have not yet started their family. They joked about not being ready and shared a few fears. I laughed inside remembering all the things I said I’d ‘never’ do when I became a parent. I told my friends, “You’ll never really be ‘ready’, and prepare to eat your list!” After all, we are obviously parenting experts until we become them.
So here is a list of things I swore I’d never do. I was served humble pie rather quickly with each of these so be kind friends, clearly I had it together:
Driving My Kid to Sleep– I remember talking to a Mom when I was pregnant with Alana who told me she had to drive her little one around because the car was the only place her kid would fall asleep. I remember thinking that was the silliest thing I had EVER heard and what kind of parent would cave in and condition their kid to something so ridiculous as constantly driving around just to get them to SLEEP! Well, I’ll tell you who—ME! Around four months of age, Alana would NOT fall sleep anywhere but the car. I read articles, tried new tips, held her until my arms nearly fell off, but this kid would not fall asleep without the calming vroooom of a late night drive. Truth be told, Stu even had a short, medium, and long route. So we did it, because we value our own sanity! So, every night for a good two -month stint we drove that kid around until she fell asleep.
Co-sleeping/Family Bed– Tell me what screams romance and deep REM more than two kids and an 80 lbs Labradoodle all piled into a queen bed? I never liked the idea of ‘family bed’ and it didn’t really matter who delivered this idea, because in my mind comfort meant a hot water bottle, fresh sheets, and enough room to stretch or snuggle as much or little as I wanted. You know what is crazy though? You know what I value even more than comfort? Actually SLEEPING! So, some nights it’s more like ‘send in the clowns’ and other nights I stretch out—but more importantly I am willing to do whatever it takes to get my kids to sleep.
Mom Jeans– So I’m convinced the modern trade in for ‘Mom Jeans’ is yoga pants. I remember when I was a Nanny, I used to pick the kids up from preschool and all the Mommies would show up in their ‘work-out’ pants. I thought it was pretty cool that these women were so put together and focused enough to get a work-out in during school time. Then I had Alana and I realized that after a c-section—you don’t even want to wear pants. So, you wear yoga pants because they are super comfy and in some ways suck everything in, plus let’s be honest, you may have just hit the gym or the couch, or the froyo bar, who even knows? NO one needs to know. Keep the mystery alive!
Kid-centered Conversations– I remember when I didn’t have kids, it was slightly awkward talking to friends who had NOTHING to talk about but their tiny people. What I didn’t realize is that these parents had plenty of things to talk about but they WANTED to talk about their tiny people. Here is the deal, new life is incredible and it’s an explosion of milestones, messes, and more joy than you can take—so it spills over into everything. I have to make a concentrated effort to talk about other things, not because my head is full of hot-air and nursery rhymes, but because my heart is full of so much wonder. Have babies—you’ll understand later.
Become too Scheduled– Before my babies came along, I loved planning things spontaneously and I thought the idea of a rigid parenting schedule was for boring people who couldn’t ever just plan things on a whim. Oh dear. Well, children thrive well on a schedule. I’m not saying every moment of everyday, but they also require soooooo much mandatory junk you can’t really leave the house without, that spontaneity can no longer be your BFF. Make friends with Lysol and Redbox, they are consistent and commited friends.
Crazy Kid House– I was determined to have a home with designated kid and adult space. You know what I’m talking about, those homes that are hidden under the mounds of kiddie paraphernalia—it’s scary, people! Who wants a house with musical/talking toys on every surface and a creative space that is cluttered with burp cloths, books, and stuffed animals strewn left and right. I’ll tell you who: people who have kids living in their house. It doesn’t matter how many fancy baskets you buy, or cute little caddies, I’m telling you kids drag their precious treasures everywhere. At my house this typically includes, ponies, acorns, dried dandelions, buttons, and the kind of toys that make you want to cry when you step on them. It just is what it is. You have to release your Pottery Barn heart into the wild and embrace the shabby kid chic.
I’m sure this list could be longer, but this is all I can drum up during nap.
What’s on your list?
I think it’s important to remember that there is no manual to parenting, no perfect road map. Just keep loving and keep making memories, and don’t forget to laugh along the way—laughter makes way for such joy!