Oh, the things we say before we have kids. We stroll past kids throwing tantrums or baby-sit our neighbor’s bratty children and say to ourselves, “When I have kids, I’ll never do [x, y and z.]” So easy to say those things before we actually have a screaming child melting down in the grocery store or one who won’t sleep more than two hours in a row or who has a weird-looking number two diaper. Here are a few things that I swore I’d never do as a mom, before I had a child:
1. Let my child sleep in our bed
I haven’t totally gone off the deep end here, meaning that my husband and I don’t spend every night with our son tossing and turning between us. But you’d better believe that on nights that he has refused to sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time or I’m not feeling well or he just won’t stop crying unless I’m holding him, I can rationalize the heck out of the situation: I’ll just wait until he’s back to sleep and then move him. This is the last time, it’s just because he missed his nap today. Ten minutes, max. Then before I know it he’s rolling over and slapping me in the face four hours later as the sun starts to come up. I now totally get how it happens. You’re so tired and just so desperate for them to sleep, you’ll do anything. Then you’re headed down a very slippery slope. (This really just applies to parents who prefer not to co-sleep, like us. It’s obviously a different story for those who choose to.)
2. Open snacks in the grocery store
I used to see moms pushing fussy children in grocery carts and cracking open a box of crackers and roll my eyes. Jeez, I would think, the kid can’t wait? The parents just fold and give them whatever they want? Let me tell you, these days in the middle of the grocery store I will open a granola bar and shove it in my kid’s mouth so fast it would make your head spin. Anything to prevent a total meltdown that forces me to abandon my cart and carry my kid screaming through the store.
3. Talk about my child’s bodily functions
I remember when my son was a newborn and my life revolved around keeping track of how much he ate, slept, and pooped. And I became that parent who found myself saying things to my husband or my parents, at the end of the day like, “He had a huge poopy diaper today, I couldn’t believe it.” I never thought I would be someone who talked about poop so much, yet I do.
4. Hide things from my child to avoid telling him no
It’s so easy when you don’t have kids to just say, Good Lord, just tell them no, the kid’s not in charge, you are. But when you’ve had a long day and you just don’t think you can deal with another whiny moment, it’s so much easier to just hide the box of cookies or the obnoxiously loud toy that makes you want to jump off a bridge. Before we stopped letting him play on it altogether, my kid usually didn’t demand to play on my iPad unless he actually saw it. I hid it from him on a regular basis.
5. Be that parent with the screaming kid in public
My willful toddler has had a few public meltdowns, varying in intensity, and a few people have said to me, “Don’t be embarrassed; anyone who has ever had a kid understands.” And I think that’s actually true. I’m ashamed to say that before I had my son I thought that a badly behaved kid was always a reflection on the parents, but now I know that every child just has bad moments, and it’s a terrible position to be out in public in that situation. I will never again judge a parent with a screaming child.
So when you find yourself doing something that you swore you’d never do as a parent, just remember: you’re doing the best you can, tomorrow is another day, and this job is super hard. But these are also things you’ll look back on and smile at — I already do.