I knew a lot more about being a parent before I became one. Before I became one, my children were only going to eat organic foods and they would not be allowed to watch television. They were going to sleep on a strict schedule set by the best and brightest of medical minds, found in the pages of your typical go-to parenting tomes. Yes, before I became a parent, I was the most amazing mother ever.
Well, then I became a parent. And all my rules seemed to no longer apply, not because I didn't still believe in their value, but because I didn't take into consideration one very important element in my plans of perfect parenthood. I forgot the part about having a child...
You see, now that I am a parent, I've come to realize that much of parenthood is merely about survival. Sometimes compromises are made in ways you once vowed you never would just so that today does not become the day that mommy goes off the deep end.
Here are some of my top survival methods:
1.) Diaper Bags: Whoever came up with the concept of keeping everything you could ever need on an exursion out, neatly packed in one place, was in fact brilliant. And this concept should be one that I have fully embraced. But the thing I've learned about diaper bags is that they don't repack themselves (shocking, right?) and it requires an added amount of brainpower that my sleep deprived mind doesn't have, to remember to replenish the needed supplies. So, I've found that the best form of preparation is increasing the size of your "diaper bag" to include the entire floorboard of your car. Lost a sock? It's ok, because there are ten more hidden beneath the pile of cheerios and toys found conviently located on the floor of your car.
2.) Meal time: Clean floors are overrated. That is all I have to say about this one.
3.) Bed Time: At some point in every parental journey, you will pat yourself on the back as your child finally begins to sleep in their own bed for an extended period of time. Yes, you will beam from ear to ear as you explain to strangers that your child now sleeps through the night. Then, the shift happens. For some in comes in later infancy and for others, it is during full fledged toddler-dom. Yes, that beautiful little spawn starts to decide that the sleeping arrangements you were oh so proud of just moments ago, are no longer to her liking. And if you are really lucky (like I am), she will insist on your presence at every moment of her precious slumber. And sometimes, in times of survival, you will accept your fate and just let the little one's chubby little thighs karate chop you in the throat as she flails about between you and your beloved, at all hours of the night for no other reason than, you must sleep...she must sleep...we all must sleep.
4.) Clothes: For many women, having children is like a reversion to your own childhood. Yes, you finally have a life sized doll. This one pees and poops just like the Baby Alive you had at five years of age. Although, now the poop and pee is not quite as exciting as you rememered your plastic friend emitting. In addition to this newfound excitement, you now get to dress your "doll" any manner you choose. Oh, and the fun in selection begins! You find the most precious of precious outfits and slap it on like the perfect mother you are and in no time watch as your child hurls, burps, poo-splodes, or some other equally terrifying outcome. Yes, that pretty little doll outfit you had so eagerly changed your baby into is now permanently marked with a reminder of her latest expulsion. So, I've come up with some rules: no clothes over $15 new, nothing over $5 used, and white is not an option, no matter how adorable it is.
5.) Parenting Advice: Parenting advice is like, well there is a certain colloquial phrase that may not be appropriate for this platform, but it ends with "everyone has one." It is amazing how many people are willing to offer there two cents to tell you the best way in which to raise your angel. Some of this advice will come from the most unusual of sources: the lady next to you on the airplane, the man in the McDonald's, or your neighbor in the adjacent bathroom stall. Yes, everyone will be quick to offer you solutions to problems you didn't even know you had. Many of these solutions will revolve around your child's core tempature and the wonderfully selected outfit you recently put them in (which is now covered in an "expulsion" of some sort), your child's eating habits, or my personal favorite, your child's public displays of err, behaviors. The best survival method is the ol' "walk and smile". It goes like this: Parenting advice exits unsolicited source. Your face contorts to your best cheese grin and your legs begin to rapidly move in the opposite direction of the consultation gratis. Hitting old ladies will not win you mommy of the year awards, no matter how deserving they are.
6.) Mommy Comparisions: The thing they never ever told you in any birthing class was that as soon as you had that butterball, you would forever be set on a spiral of mommy comparisions. It begins innocently enough: in play groups, parks, Gymboree classes, Chick-fil-A's or any other place where groups of mommies congregate. It starts with the question, how old is she? And then it spiral, spiral, sprials down like the tornado that it is. If you are lucky, the age of your child and your inquiring companion's will significantly differ. If not, you are in store for a list of milestone checks like you've never experienced. You will be asked as to what percentages, level of competence and any other mommy-determined accomplishment to determine two things: A.) whose child is more advanced and B.) who is the better mommy. It comes from the sweetest of women and in such a way that you won't know what has happened to you until you begin to question your child's development and the competence you possess in rearing your pride and joy. Survival tip: claim mom-nesia and say that you do not recall your doctor's latest statistic updates and just say yes when asked, is your child doing ______ yet?
Yes, I was a far better mom before I had a child than I am now that I have a vivacious, "spirited" youngster (Survival tip #7: look for new ways to describe "bouncing off the walls" and "hurricane".) But at the end of the day, even though I haven't followed all the medically and socially prescribed mommy rules, I still have a kid who loves me more than anything and in my humble, momma opinion, is just pretty darn cool....even if she eats things that are overly processed and could watch television for a whole day straight if allowed.
Here's to making your own rules...
Until next time,