In my early twenties, I had the whole “Mom” thing figured out. Although I lacked an actual child and was not yet a mother, I had a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, had spent years working as a teacher, and had babysat and nannied more kids than the Duggars could count. I knew exactly what type of mom I would be one day—that mom who brought homemade cupcakes to PTA meetings, who hosted playdates complete with age-appropriate sensory activities, and who only fed her child healthy food. All this changed once I actually became a mom.
Well, Maybe Just This Once….
Screen time. It is big “no no” for children under the age of two, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. When I was pregnant, I vowed that I would never allow my baby to watch T.V. After all, how would watching cartoons help him meet his developmental milestones? I highly doubted that Harvard graduates had watched television all day as babies. However, once I actually had my son, I eased up a little on the strict “No Screen” policy. I told myself, “30min. a day max. until the age of two. Also, it must be educational.” Well, fast forward to now and let’s just say that we have run out of episodes of Elmo on Hulu. By the way, “Shrek” is considered educational, right? Asking for a friend…
I used to cringe when I would see parents letting their kids eat straight off a restaurant table or eat after playing in the park without a sanitizer pit stop. Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer are like my two amigos, and I was sure going to help keep my precious baby germ-free! However, once I had my son, I realized that I would drive myself crazy if I kept trying to keep him away from germs. That grocery cart cover that I had to have on my registry to keep my precious angel baby safe from the Target buggy germs? Well, sometimes I don’t have time for all that…and boy, does my son love to touch all over the cart. Eating off the floor? Oh, we can definitely check that one off his bucket list. He also gets a big kick out of sharing his popsicles with our dog, and there’s a pretty good chance I still let him finish his popsicle, regardless of the doggy drool. Those plastic disposable placemats that I always make sure are packed in the diaper bag? Well, my son loves those. Not as a placemat, but as a toy. He has made a game out of seeing how quickly after I carefully stick it to the table he can rip it off. After playing tug-of-war with my toddler over the placemat between courses (who am I kidding—we don’t eat at places that fancy!), I give up and let his food touch the tainted table. Despite my shortcomings in protecting my son against the germy world, he is healthy and thriving….and I am no longer driving myself crazy trying to make him bubble boy!
Speaking of food, has anyone ever actually been able to maintain the “no junk food” rule through the toddler and adolescent stages of their child’s life? If so, please contact me and tell this young grasshopper all your secrets. I remember one night when I was pregnant telling my husband over dinner, “We will not feed our baby anything but whole foods. Mostly organic, too.” My husband and I agreed, as we ate one of the last meals that we would eat in peace. Now, don’t get me wrong—we do a great job of giving my baby boy lots of fresh fruits and veggies and healthy proteins. However, on those nights when your child is screaming because they’re exhausted from daycare (how can a day filled with naps and snacks be so exhausting?!), you may just end up giving them what they want to eat. Sure, I already cooked him a ground turkey and veggie omelet….but if the tantrum-throwing toddler wants a PB&J, he can have it—just for tonight! My pre-motherhood, judgy self also used to roll my eyes when I saw Facebook posts of toddlers and their birthday party smash cakes….”What one year old needs THAT much sugar? Seriously, what are their parents THINKING?” Going along with my previous vow to keep my perfect, angel child away from sugar and junk food, I sanctimoniously told myself, “I will NEVER do that once I have a kid!” Well, let me just tell you—my son LOVED his sugar-filled smash cake at his first birthday party!
I’d always envisioned myself as one of those moms who would have Pinterest-worthy themed birthday parties for their kids. In fact, I even planned my son’s first birthday party on a Pinterest board BEFORE HE WAS BORN! All the décor and his outfit would match the theme and the snacks would have cute little signs with puns relating them to the theme. However, the closer it got to my son’s first birthday, the more I realized that neither he, nor I, cared about an elaborately-themed first birthday party. Although I did get a few confused texts from party guests, “Wait, so there is no theme? The theme is just ‘birthday party’?” Matthew loved his simple little party! We had chalk and bubbles from Family Dollar (only the best for my baby!), and randomly colored balloons from the local grocery store. I did splurge on Costco’s ORGANIC fruit snacks for the kids—don’t I get credit for that? Actually, I should pat myself on the back for already having next year’s birthday party theme picked out: “Happy 2nd Birthday, Matthew.”
If It Isn’t Monogrammed, Is it Even Yours?
There is no denying that baby clothes are precious. There’s just something about tiny-sized clothing that makes it oh-so cute! I could not wait to have kids so that I could adorn them in pint sized Polo shirts and tiny seersucker shorts! Oh, the smocking! The monograms! The possibilities were endless! Somewhere between fantasizing about my future children’s wardrobes and giving birth to my son, I became way less focused on this. Onesies are now my absolute favorite. They are comfy, easily laundered, and make diaper access a breeze. Now, do we have some “fancy” smocked outfits? To my husband’s disappointment, yes—and my son is adorable in them! But most of the time, we are kicking it in Carter’s doorbuster sets, Cat & Jack flip flops (discounted because I bought them during the winter), and a pre-loved (hand-me-down) baseball cap.
Clearly my pre-motherhood self had some pretty crazy expectations for my actual-mom-self. If I could go back and talk to her, I would tell her, “Give yourself slack. Do what works best for you and your family. Your kid may lick the buggy at Target, wear Santa jammies in July because that’s when the hand-me-downs fit, and eat junk food off the floor sometimes, but he is still going to thrive and think that you’re the best mommy ever!”