I knew so much more about parenting before I had children. Yes friends, I had it all figured out. I knew the type of mom I’d be, the type of kids I’d raise, the type of foods we eat, the countless learning activities we would do together and so on.
I babysat quite a bit and thought I had gleaned loads of parental wisdom in the hours I had spent in various homes. Yes friends, I was ready.
And then I had children.
As any seasoned parent knows, things don’t go quite as planned. We love our little ones, yes we do. But turns out they aren’t perfect and neither are we. Dang. I find it humorous to look back at pre-kid Polly and reminisce a bit about my parenting expectations. I’m sure most of you parents out there can relate.
Just a quick note- I’m putting a lot of my cards on the table as a mom. Poking fun at my failings and such. I’m not expecting everyone to agree with how we parent our kids. In fact, I don’t agree with the way we parent our kids sometimes! Haha. I know there are some feisty mamas out there who love to share their opinions on what I should or shouldn’t do. Another time, another post, k?
Moving on… Here are a few goodies that I swore I’d never do as a parent…
1. “I won’t let my child have a pacifier past walking age.”
Both my kids love(d) their pacifiers. They are a blessing and a curse. I love having a solution to a fussy day. I love the silence that fills the car when the bink is at work. Yes, our sleep cycles are regularly disrupted by a lost pacifier at night but this is part of the course we have chartered for ourselves and we don’t mourn it anymore. Before kids, I remember vowing to never let my kid have a pacifier post walking stage. They just seemed too old to be walking around with it in their mouths.
Walking=bye bye pacifier.
He’s for sure walking and that paci isn’t going anywhere soon. I’d like to say we keep it limited to primarily bedtime. That’d be a lie. Turns out that as soon as these kids start walking they enter into, in my opinion, one of the hardest stages of early childhood. They have a will but no words to express it. Thus, they fuss. At least mine do. I dearly love the littleness and adventure that this stage brings but I am not about to take our dear friend, Mr. Paci out of the picture. We need him.
2. “I will never be a mom who lets my child throw a tantrum in public.”
Oh ya, remember back when I used to think my kids would be trained to behave appropriately in public 100% of the time? Remember when I used to judge the parents of children whose children screamed and had tantrums? Well, Mrs. Judgy Pants here has been humbled.
Turns out, you can’t control another human being. Even if they did come from your womb.
Despite all efforts, preparation, training, parental wisdom, threats, bribes or even restraint, a three-year-old will have her way with you. In public. In quiet places where everyone will notice. In front of people you want to impress. During outings that were supposed to be fun. I once thought this would never happen to me. Hehehehahahahahohoho. (See this wonderful story if you’re wanting a prime example).
3. “My kids will not have food in the car.”
After riding in a minivan of a mom of three, I was grossed out. Crumbs on the floor, cheerios under the car seats, sippy cups rolling around with who knows what in them.
Then and there I told myself that when I had kids, they can wait to have their snacks. I would not be trashing my car with goldfish crumbles and clementine peels. Clean car for this mom-to-be!
Turns out, snacks are an essential part of a peaceful car ride. Nobody told me that. When mouths of are full, hearts are happy. OK, that is so not true but there is a strong correlation between the car fits we have and the lack of snacks available. Strong.
I am proud of myself in that I only allow “dry” snacks in the car. No fruit, cheese, fruit snacks, milk, juice, etc. My car already has a mysterious kid-car small. We don’t need any cradling milk in the corner to join the fun.
4. “I will never be a mom who lets them snack all day.”
Speaking of snacking, after reading about french parenting in Bringing Up Bebe, I learned that the french teach delayed gratification at an early age by holding to a very strict eating routine. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. Snacking in between is looked upon with a bit of shame and loss of self-control.
Why this is a brilliant idea! At least pre-kid Polly thought so.
Well- as you can imagine this idea got chucked super early. My kids wouldn’t have survived in France. Or maybe their parents wouldn’t have. Either way, we snack. A lot. It’s also deeply ingrained in the culture of raising littles in America. Snacks are part of playdates, preschool schedules, Sunday school at church, and pretty much any other activity for kids. It’s pretty much unavoidable.
5. “I’ll always be attentive and treasure every moment.”
During my first pregnancy, we found out that my daughter had a two-vessel umbilical cord (instead of the healthy three vessel cords that most babies have). There wasn’t any immediate threat but the risk of a complicated labor & delivery greatly increased.
While carrying around this stress I remember seeing a mom at the grocery store shopping with her toddler in the front seat of the cart. The child was trying to tell the distracted mom something but she was focused on her shopping list.
Mrs. Judgy Pants emerged and vowed that I would do my best to enjoy all those sweet moments with my kids were that little.
Well reality showed up, punched me in face a few times and made me realize I can’t be perfect. As much as I’d love to soak up every moment and treasure every babble that comes out of my little guy’s mouth, I don’t. I can’t. Turns out I still have a husband to love, a house to manage, a part-time job to juggle, and friends to keep. I so want to store up as many memories in the bank as possible but it was slightly unrealistic to think I wouldn’t be the distracted mom trying to juggle it all.
6. “I’ll nurse my kids until at least a year.”
Hmmm, how do I tackle this one without over-sharing? Kinda hard to do… In short, one cannot predict the challenges that may come with breastfeeding. For some, it’s easy peasy. For others it comes with pain, struggle, stress and even sickness (hello, my good friend, Mastitis). Oh, and don’t forget about the fact that it takes two to tango in this department. Some kids are great little eaters and some struggle as well. My ambitions of making it to 12 months were cut short for various reasons. Kid #1 got about 7 months of liquid gold and #2 got about 9 months. I had to stop short of my goal for different reasons with each kid and found myself disappointed I didn’t make it to a year. I had to wrestle a bit with these expectations and the imaginary audience judging me. Turns out my kids are just fine, healthy, functioning, social and very much alive despite not getting a full 12 months of breast milk.
7. “I will train my kids to be good sleepers.”
We had it all figured out. Prepped with our sleep schedule/routine before the baby was even on the scene, we had a plan ready to create a good sleeper.
Oh my goodness we had it all wrong. I don’t want to stir up a sleep training debate here so I won’t go into detail about what we did and didn’t do but three years and two kids later I am fully convinced that a good sleeper has very little to do with the parents. Some kids are prone to snooze soundly and some are just not. Yes, there are things we can do to encourage and discourage the process but what I didn’t realize is that you can’t make a baby be someone they aren’t. Even as an infant. Sleep stuff was a huge source of stress for me as a new mom and I so wish I could do that part over again with my first.
My husband and I, like most moms and dads out there are simply doing our best. Each stage and each kid brings a new set of blessings and challenges that we have to figure out through trial an error. If I’ve learned anything in the past three years it’s a healthy dose of humility. I love my goobers and I love that the challenges they bring only strip away the pride and judgmental heart that I didn’t even know I had.
The only thing I can cling to as truth in the journey of parenting is God’s Word. I need perspective and truth on a daily basis or else I get a little lost. I so quickly focus on the trees, not the forest. Being in God’s word helps me lift my eyes up and away from the kid problem I am wrapped up in and be reminded of his truth.
If that is something that resonates with you, here are 25 verse cards that Rachel and I put together specifically to minister to parents.