Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All the things I said I'd never do ...

As my son's third birthday nears, I can't help but think back to the person I was 3 years ago. I was a first grade teacher, so naturally I was a child rearing expert (yea right!). I had all these expectations of what kind of mother I would be and what kind of "perfect" son I would raise. Anyone reading this who has kids probably just laughed hysterically at that last sentence. After all, despite what we all think before we have children, it's just not as easy as it looks, is it? Being a mother is the most rewarding, fulfilling job I've ever had but it's also the kind of job where I feel like I am judged constantly, not only by others, but by myself too. 

Here is a list of all the things I insisted I would never do (before I had kids).... 

1.  Let my baby sleep in my bed- This is something I was convinced I would never do. Whenever I heard of someone else doing that, I was appalled! Naturally, when we brought our son home from the hospital, we would lay him in his bassinet and he would sleep peacefully for at least a few hours. After a month or two, we would smoothly transition him to his crib in his own room. HAHAHAHA! Yea right! I was a breastfeeding mama so letting A into our bed at night was unintentional at first. I would bring him in the bed to nurse him and accidentally fall asleep. I had good intentions of returning him to his bassinet, it just didn't always happen because of exhaustion. After I went back to work full time, this was no longer an unintentional move. I was still nursing, pumping 4 times a day, getting up for work at 5:30 every morning, getting home about 4 in the afternoon, and on my own til hubby came home around 7pm. I WAS SO TIRED! After a few days of this schedule, I began putting A in our bed whenever he woke up at night just so I could nurse him and go back to sleep. Despite everyone's warnings, we smoothly transitioned him to his crib in his own room by about 8 months. After he became a toddler, he never slept with us again. For those of you who are skeptical, let me just say one word. Survival. 

2. "Allow" my kid to scream or tantrum in a public place-I am laughing about the word, "allow". I was one of those women who rolled her eyes and couldn't believe how some toddlers and preschoolers were permitted to behave in public. Apparently I knew very little about the thought process and actions of actual two year olds. Don't get me wrong, I do still think parents need to be consistent and follow through with discipline and threats. Also, I think parents should remove children from public places like restaurants when they are tantruming. But I also have a new appreciation for what little control we have over a two year old's actions. The phrase terrible twos most have come from somewhere, right? 

3. Discuss breastfeeding or potty training on Facebook-Before I was a mom, this kind of shit grossed me out (no pun intended). Why would anyone want to put that kind of private information on Facebook. And by the way, I'm the queen of TMI. Once I was the one breastfeeding or potty training my child, it suddenly dawned on me why people do this-to get support and advice from other moms. It's been extremely helpful for me to have a social network to bounce ideas off of or sometimes just get a "way to go!" comment. Apologies to my friends and families without kids though. That stuff probably still seems gross to you. 

4. Bring gaming systems and/or travel DVD players to restaurants-Another thing I used to turn my nose up at. "Gosh, why don't they teach that child how to behave in a restaurant instead of sticking that game in his face?" Ha. Well, I do still believe a child needs to learn the right way to behave in a restaurant. Unfortunately, I think a lot of these lessons are better taught to children ages 4 and up. My pediatrician once told me that a parent who took a child under the age of 4 to a restaurant was insane. When my sis visited last weekend, we wanted to go out to eat with her. (A family friendly restaurant of course). I watched her eyes roll as I packed A's bag of tricks for the restaurant. I packed: coloring book and crayons, snacks, drinks, his new Mobi-go, my I-pod touch loaded with kid apps, a fully charged travel DVD player, and some animals. Sounds like overkill right? Probably was. But can you blame me for wanting to keep my two year old son entertained while I enjoyed a (hot) meal with my sis and hubby? It turned out, we didn't need most of that stuff this time. He sat and colored and ate most of the meal! I'm convinced if I hadn't packed all that stuff, he would have acted like  a wild animal. Can't win I guess. 

5. Give my kid dessert or let him leave the table if he didn't eat all his food-My son doesn't like to eat, especially in public. Sometimes it's easier to let him leave the table. Occasionally later if we are having some junk food or dessert, we let him have a bite. Get over it. He's two. 

6.Become a stay at home mom-Before I was a mom, I was a teacher with a Master's Degree. Part of the reason I chose teaching as a career was because I've always wanted a family and I felt like teaching would be the best of both worlds. Plus I love kids and loved teaching. I'd work from 7-3 and be home with plenty of time and energy to spend with my son when I got home. My teacher friends can insert laugh here. I went back to work when A was 5 months old. With budget cuts and more demands than ever on teachers, I found myself at work or bringing stuff (like papers to grade or crazy report cards) home all the time. Even when I was home, I was stressed about work. After a year of work and LOTS of indecision, hubby paid off our car and reworked the budget so that I'd be able to stay home with our son. I've never been happier! On the other hand, I know not everyone can or wants to stay home and that's okay too. 

To me, part of being a good mom (and person) is realizing that what's best for one person may not be best for another. It also means coming to terms with the fact that other people may not do things the way you think is the best way. We're not perfect, we're parents. 

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