If you had asked me before I had children, whether I thought I’d be a perfect mom, I would have said, “No.” But, when I look back at the expectations I had for myself, I feel like I set the bar pretty high. It’s only now that I’m in throes of raising two wild little boys I realize I’ve thrown all those high expectations out of the window. It seems like I’m daily adding to my list of things I never thought I’d do as parent.
5 Things I Never Thought I’d Do As a Parent:
1. Let my child throw a fit in public.
Before having kids I was always embarrassed for the mom who couldn’t keep her toddler under control. I wondered why she didn’t leave the store with her child and her dignity still intact. Then, my oldest son hit toddlerhood, and I started considering it a miracle if I could shop without him throwing himself on the floor or screaming his head off when he didn’t get his way. I saw the looks of passersby who were noting this completely out of control child in my care, but I also saw the looks of solidarity from those moms who’d gone before me. Our eyes would meet, and they’d nod as if to say, “Been there.” I also imagined them saying, “It gets better” or “He’ll grow out of it by the time he goes to college.”
2. Allow my living room to become my kid’s playroom.
I liked my living room the way it was before I had kids. It was neat and orderly, but comfortable too. I was determined to keep it that way. I, in my graciousness, might allow my child to bring a toy or two from his bedroom to play for a couple of hours, but I assured myself he would return it to his room after he was done playing. That may have lasted the first 9 months of my firstborn’s life. Now, overflowing toy bins peak out from under the TV cabinet. There are train tracks weaving under the legs of my coffee table, and just today, my boys tipped over their plastic play kitchen and rode on the back of it like it was a rocket ship. My neat and orderly living room is now a child’s playroom, and I’m okay with that.
3. Allow my child to add “ugly” décor to his room.
I wanted Pinterest-perfect bedrooms for my kids. I spent weeks picking out the cutest décor for his big boy room – a vintage sign of an old truck, an oversized initial over his bed, and coordinating picture frames with some of his photos and pre-school drawings. I anticipated him changing it when he was older, maybe as a 10-year-old or teenager, but my free-thinking son decided now was the time. He’s added “Star Wars” posters that don’t fit the theme and make his room look far more like a teenager’s lair. It’s all I can do to leave them up. I have to repeat over and over to myself, “It’s not about me.” (Because, if it were, they’d be in the trash.)
4. Allow my toddler to pick out his own clothes.
Honestly, it’s not that I wanted to be a control freak, I just thought that kids didn’t really care about their clothes. I had grand ambitions of cute toddler outfits that made my little men look like little toddler models. This dream died pretty quick. My oldest loves his oversized Darth Vader shirt, Spiderman shoes that light up, and I practically have to bribe him to get him to wear anything of my choosing. I’ve come to embrace that he’s becoming his own little man, but there’s definitely been a time or two where I’ve had to bite my tongue to keep from saying anything about his “creative” outfits.
5. Allow my child to watch more than 30 minutes of TV.
To all the parents out there who meticulously control the amount of TV that you allow your kids to watch – you have my respect. In fact, I want to be you. I was actually doing pretty well limiting TV with my first son, and then baby number two came along. Now, I have an endless supply of excuses for allowing my kids to watch TV – for sick days, or times when I need to shower, times when I need to clean, for days that it’s too cold or too hot to go outside, for when there is an SEC game on that I want to watch, and even just for those times when I need a moment of peace and quiet. I tell myself that when they are older (and not as likely to be mischievous) then I will get my act together when it comes to monitoring TV time.
The truth is reality seldom looks the way we think it will. My kids are going to be kids with their own unique personalities and interests, and I wouldn’t want them any other way. I’m also learning to let go of perfection for my kids, my home, and myself. Parenting is hard, and it’s easy to be your biggest critic when your family and home looks less than perfect, but I’ve found that giving myself and my kids a little grace goes a long way and we’re all happier for it.
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