Before becoming a mom, I had some pretty specific ideas on how I was going to raise my future kids (in my mind, there would be three of them: two girls, then a boy, all very close in age). As all parents know, there are plans and then there's reality, and reality rarely turns out the way we envisioned.
But it’s still fun to look back and reminisce and laugh about the "rules" we made for ourselves before becoming a parent, until actually becoming a parent. So here are just a few things I said I’d never do as a mom until I became a mom (of two boys, with an age gap—so much for my plans!). I welcome you to laugh along with me.
I was pregnant with my first when my cousin stubbed his toe and swore loudly, right in front of his kid. "Get it out now, because once this baby is out, no swearing," I warned him. Fast forward to actually having children and, turns out, when I had little to no sleep and mastitis for the fourth time, an F-bomb here and there was very low on my list of cares and actually quite therapeutic.
One night before I had kids, I was sitting on a patio with a friend at around 11:30 pm and promised myself that I would never stop living my fun, going-out lifestyle after having a baby. Kids go to bed early, right? Ha.
I still prioritize going out and having fun with friends, but it looks a little different because clubs just don't get pumpin' until at least 11 pm, which is now three hours past my bedtime. Kids don’t actually care that you were out late and will lovingly wake you up at the break of dawn.
Only homemade meals for my kids, I decided. In reality, this wasn’t even remotely doable for me for many reasons and pretty quickly became a low priority on my list. Frankly, I look forward to my weekly McDonald's visits with my son, as they bring back some very fun and nostalgic moments from my own childhood.
My cousin shared with me that her toddler would sneak out of his bed every night and into theirs, and they didn’t mind it. For me, this was not OK and I swore I wouldn't allow it. The truth is that in your arms or next to you can be the place where your child feels safest, and can also sometimes mean a few more hours of sleep. So while it’s not always ideal to have a little foot in my face, it happens.
I was out at a restaurant with my sister-in-law and we noticed a family who let their kid watch an iPad while they waited for their food to arrive. "Look at that kid," she said. "Talk about lack of parenting skills.” I never wanted others to look at our family the same way, so I decided my kids would have limited or no screen time, especially before the age of two. The reality is I would love for my toddler to sit quietly at a restaurant and chat about our day while we wait for our meals but that simply does not happen. My kid is now the one watching Paw Patrol on an iPad at a restaurant because sometimes I want to enjoy a meal while it’s hot and have a conversation with my partner. And frankly, I no longer care what people think when they look at us.
“I don’t need mom friends—I’ve already got friends,” I told a friend, pre-kids. Turns out, being able to talk to someone who truly understands the rollercoaster ride of motherhood was one of the greatest factors that got me through the hard times. Having mom friends with babies the same age was also helpful as they followed a similar nap schedule and gave me someone to text with at 2 am when we were both up feeding our babies.
I once saw a mom scold her partner for getting home late from work because he “took his sweet-ass time at the bar." That will never be me, I remember thinking. My partner can keep his freedom. Fast forward to me looking over at my partner snoring away in a deep sleep as I got up to feed our newborn for the sixth time and change not only their diaper, but mine as well, and the resentment was palpable. It’s really hard not to resent your partner when it feels like their whole life hasn’t been turned upside down like yours has.
At one point or another, most of us have witnessed a child behaving in a way that, as non-parents, we deemed inappropriate. I’ve since learned that many of these so-called “inappropriate behaviours” are developmentally normal (for example, my toddler having a tantrum in the grocery store because I wouldn’t buy him “the green bottle,” a.k.a. a bottle of Heineken). Sometimes, you just have to power through and ignore the stares, because while some of them might be judging you, most of them are simply looking on with empathy.
I once overheard a mom tell her kid, “If you can stop screaming for five minutes, you can have ice cream” and ignorantly thought, I will never bribe my child. I thought my kids should listen to me without a bribe. Fast forward a few years and when I realized my kid would poop in the toilet if I bribed him with Smarties, it shamelessly became one of my go-to parenting tools.
I thought crying in front of your child was a sign of weakness, but have realized that modelling healthy emotions for our children is actually super important. I was raised with the idea that “boys don’t cry,” but have very much taught my boys the opposite, that it’s OK and very healthy to cry whenever they feel the desire.
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