I am not a parenting expert by any standard, but there definitely was a point in time where I thought I was getting pretty close. When I had my first baby, I had just endured nine months of unsolicited advice and horror stories from every person I encountered. All of that on top of endless hours of sleepless nights “researching” on BabyCenter had me feeling pretty prepared for this parenting gig. I already knew what my discipline style was, and had planned to read to my baby every single day so he would be a genius and to make organic baby food. I was set.
Then I started parenting. I am now four kids deep into Mom life and I am laughing at myself.
Of course the first kid is your tester child, so they seem to get both the best and worst of your parenting ideas. Below are some things I swore would NEVER happen, but that happen all the time now. If you make it through this list without identifying with any of them, congratulations. Your time is drawing nigh, sister.
1. “I will NEVER be that mom!”
A precious friend from work was digging in her purse for her keys and pulled out a used diaper. I was mortified, y’all. I didn’t understand how that could happen. Joke’s on me. I basically use a pile of used diapers as a pillow at this point. Not really, but they sometimes seem to appear in the most random places. I have reaped the judgment I have sown.
2. “I will NEVER let my kids sleep with me.”
This one came from trying to protect my bed — to keep it as a sanctuary for sexy time — and not as a safety concern because I knew you could safely co-sleep. Based on the fact that I have made four children, I now know that you don’t need a sanctuary for those specific purposes. I stood my ground for six whole months, but the little prince demanded to nurse all night long as he cut his first teeth and I discovered that I could nurse and sleep at the same time. Boom. That was a game changer. The next three babies slept in bed with me from day one and they all were great sleepers.
3. “I will NEVER feed my kids McDonald’s.”
LOL. Okay. Cool. But Grandma probably will. McDonald’s is the gateway drug for children and once they enjoy their first Happy Meal, the neural pathway is deeply carved. Kids can recognize those golden arches from miles away after one encounter. I breastfed all of my kids until they self-weaned and started them on organic whole foods at that point. Yet here we are. Hopefully that really strong start will balance out their *cough* occasional fast food indulgences.
4. “I will NEVER drive a minivan.”
I literally have this quote on the back of my minivan to remind myself from where I came. Oh honey, nobody starts out wanting to drive a minivan. There is a misconception that minivan drivers must have such an altered state of mind if they think their vehicle is cool. False. We know there is nothing sleek or sexy about driving a rectangle. That doesn’t change after you bite the bullet and purchase that swagger wagon. I love it now though, no joke. Sometimes when I drive at night I turn up the radio and pretend I am in a rap video. I have cool turquoise lights in the ceiling and when I hit the button for my electric doors, I imagine smoke and doves flying out like in a Snoop Dogg video.
5. “I will NEVER go in public looking like that.”
Yes, yes you will, future Reshae. Back in the day I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup and real clothes. Now I feel like it is a challenge to see how horrible I can look in public without running into someone I know. Self-care is so important, so I am not talking about giving up on yourself at all. However, once you have little people to take care of, making them look presentable and put together in public is more important and it is time consuming in the mornings. Someone may call Child Protective Services if they see your daughter in a holey t-shirt, faded black leggings, and $2 flip flops rocking the same messy bun for three days in a row. But nobody is going to call the authorities on a mom with four kids because y’all kind of expect it at this point, right? I’m tired, homie. You’re just lucky I’m wearing pants at all.
I probably have a list a mile long of things I have changed my stance on over the life of my parenting journey so far, and I have no doubt I have a whole lot of learning left as my kids move from the little kid stage to the big kid stage. It is so strange to feel like I know so much more about life, but also so much less than I used to, ya dig? I am embracing the quote, “Be stubborn about your goals, but be flexible about your methods.”