Let’s get real here…I love being a mom, but I’m not always the mom I pictured myself as before I became a parent. My parenting continues to shift and morph with every child (I have three young children) and with every year or new stage of life.
Here are 10 things that I never pictured myself doing as a mom:
1. Sneak chocolate (or ice cream or candy or whatever bad food I can find) once my kids are sleeping (or when they are in the other room and I slide into the pantry and close the door!).
I’m eating ice cream right now. Out of the tub. It wasn’t a full tub, but just enough to ease my evening. Parenting is tough. Once I finally get a moment, especially after a trying day, I want to EAT. And I usually don’t want to get the healthy stuff. Tossing a handful of chocolate chips in my mouth while hiding in the pantry and taking a deep breath can really help me come down from crazy moments or days!
2. Have a child that has meltdowns (especially in public!)
I was in ‘well-behaved child’ bliss for the first 3 years of my oldest son’s life. Then, all of a sudden, a switch flipped…and the meltdown monster appeared. In the beginning, most meltdowns happened at home. But then, it happened. Screaming fits in public happened. Not often, but even just a couple of these incidents are too many.
One in particular happened while leaving a Publix. When I finally thought I had my screaming 4-year-old safe in the car, he somehow opened the van door and darted across a Publix parking lot screaming bloody murder. Thankfully, a nice man jumped in front of my son to stop him for me. Whew. After that moment, I figured I had entered a new mom status. Because now when I see a mom with a child melting down, I feel for HER. She’s not a bad parent. She’s trying her best. I try to give her the “I understand” eyes when I can. Because, seriously, I now understand.
3. Let my kids sleep in my bed or room
This has been different for each kid. My first child slept in our bed a very small handful of times. He moved to his own room and crib when he was 2 months old. My second son stayed in our room until he was 6 months old. He slept mostly in a cosleeper, but on the rough nights, he would end up in the bed with me. He is now 4 years old and creeps into our bed in the middle of the night.
Now, with my third child, she slept in a cosleeper and crib in our room until she was 10 months old. Very rarely sleeping in bed with me, but not leaving my side. She is now 13 months, and I spend most of my night sleeping on a twin bed on her floor in her room while she sleeps in her crib. She still wakes up throughout the night to nurse. I like to blame it on teething (she’s seriously getting her 1 year molars right now!)…or whatever thing I can blame it on to make me feel better.
Where the kids sleep just comes down to sleep desperation for me! Whatever helps me to get even a small amount of extra sleep is worth it, because I’m desperate these days!
I’m disappointed about this one. Before children, I was NOT a yeller. What happened? What button has been activated in me? It doesn’t happen often, but it is usually centered around my most tiring days…especially at bedtime when everyone is just too tired to listen and follow directions. This is something I know I need to work on. The problem is that the yelling often works to get their attention at that moment! But I know it goes deeper than that particular moment.
I need to show my kids that yelling is not how you should handle stressful situations. I do find that it is helpful when I apologize for the yelling. I want to stop yelling all together, but at least the apologizing will show them it’s wrong and I’ve recognized I need to continue to work on it. I will often ask my kids what I should do to help myself calm down. They come up with some great strategies, like taking deep breaths or clapping my hands! We will all work together on this one.
5. Make a big deal out of what school my kids go to
When I was little, I just went to school. I went to a convenient preschool and the grade schools I was zoned for. And I turned out fine, right? Well, I’m sure having school choice in our area plays a role in making the grade school decision a bit tougher and better at the same time. There are also some great charter and private schools near our home.
My first son, who is now in 1st grade, has been a social challenge but is an academic dream. Because of his social challenges, we took care picking out a sweet charter school that would help him build confidence, leadership skills, and communication skills.
As for my second son, we have moved his preschool a couple of times and he is now 4. The first time because we were not satisfied with the level of love from his teachers and the second time because we found a great preschool that was more convenient for the family. As our children grow, we will continue to seek out the best education for them, and we feel a large part of that should be focused on building character, not just academics.
6. Start them in sports too early
But how cute was it when my 4-year-old just danced on the opposite side of the soccer field than where the soccer ball was? Ugh. He was not ready for sports, but it sounded like something fun and interesting to do at the time. We have tried sports again and it has gone better at 5 and 6 years old with more of a sports interest forming.
Every child is different though, because my second son is 4 years old and we are signing him up for soccer! This will be round 2 of the 4-year-old soccer. Having these activities is fun for the whole family to get out and do. We limit our kids’ extracurricular activities at these young ages. But we also feel that having one sport or special interest gives us something different to look forward to throughout the week and hopefully helps to slowly build their team player skills.
7. Stop going out with my husband or friends
Before kids, I would go out with friends and/or my husband for dancing, drinks, dinner, movies, concerts, sporting events, and more. But once I had a child, these outings have dwindled down. First, I am exhausted. The thought of staying out past 10:00pm sounds repulsive. Who is still going to need to wake up at 6:00am with the kid(s) and be up in the middle of the night with my teething 1-year-old? Me (or my husband)!
Secondly, my definition of fun has shifted. I now enjoy the more simple parts of life with my children. I enjoy taking them to parks and the library and to get ice cream. Surprisingly, I don’t miss all the going out I used to do. Yes, I need to work on finding more time for myself and for dates with my husband, but the late nights out are nearly nonexistent. And I’m perfectly happy without them.
8. Stay home with my kids
I loved working and I loved my job. How did I end up as a stay-at-home mom this past year? Well, these little rascals will warp your brain and make you re-prioritize many things in your life, if you’re able to. Check out my previous blog post for more details on my journey to staying at home.
9. Pay $400 for family photos
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE photos. And I love and appreciate great photography. But I never imagined I would pay so much money for pictures. I now understand that it is truly an investment when you purchase nice photos of your family. These are the photos you will keep for generations and share with your grandchildren and maybe your great-grandchildren. Those beautiful years are priceless. I will love having these treasured photos for years to come.
10. Take my kids for granted
I love my kids. I do. But some days, they are wild animals (like tonight!). I get annoyed, aggravated, and angry. There are moments that I just forget how wonderful my kids are. I forget that I am so thankful they are happy and healthy and challenging and interesting and loving. It’s impossible to spend every moment appreciating them. But I do try to as much as I can. There are days that I have to slow down and remind myself to count my lucky stars.
These years with young children are exhausting (aren’t you sick of hearing that?). However, these years are also precious, sweet, fun, and fleeting. The highs are higher but the lows can feel lower. I will miss these years more than I can imagine.