Saturday, February 15, 2014

Never Say Never

I'd like all the mamas to think back a few years for this one.

Back to the days when parenthood was just a twinkle in your eye. It was a magical experience in the near future, sure to fill your hearts with love and your homes with laughter. Seven years after making that decision, everything I just said is true, but you and I both know it's not always the case. Maybe your kids are my age, maybe you just started, or maybe you're still in the planning stages. Wherever you are on this parenting journey, I think {hope?} you can appreciate this post and agree with at least one of these.

Remember when you had an idea of how your life would be once the sound of little feet could be heard up and down your hallways? Remember when you saw your friends and family struggle with the art of raising kids, and you swore you'd do things differently? Remember when you saw those two pink, positive lines for the first time and you immediately started ticking through your dos and don'ts? Remember when it all blew up in your face?

Humor is my intent here, but I can assure you I'm being 100% honest. Even if I didn't utter a word of it, I will admit to thinking each and every one of these statements at one point. If there's one thing I've learned in the beginning stages of parenting, it's never say never:

I will never have to pull a foreign object out of my kid's nose.
"I will watch them so closely that there will be no possibility of a renegade popcorn kernel finding its way into my son's nose. Also, I'll just never give them anything small enough to fit in there. Case closed."

I will never let my child sleep in my bed.
"Crib from day one, y'all. Good habits die quickly and the second I break down to those puppy dog eyes, it'll be high school graduation before I reclaim my bed. Forget monsters in the dark, late-night coughing spells, and beds without railings."

I will never let a word of foul language slip in front of my children.
"That's just bad parenting. Obviously, adults can be in control of their emotions well enough not to curse in front of their children and censor themselves around listening ears. Never will my child shout 'SON OF A FISH' while playing a game."

I will never overload my children with screen time.
"I've seen those moms who hand their fussy kids iPhones in restaurants or plop them in front of the doctor's office television to get them to be quiet. I can't believe they'd rather rot their kids' brains than explain to them that their behavior is unacceptable. Plus, there's no way a two-year-old could possibly understand iOS7."

I will never ignore my children.
"Who cares how many times the word 'why' can be uttered in one minute flat, children are naturally curious creatures and it's a mother's job to answer those questions. When I'm asked to watch my child toss a ball for the 63rd time, I will watch with the same enthusiasm as the first time. Never will I turn over in bed and pretend I don't hear a baby's cries."

I will never yell at my children.
"A mother's tone should always be soothing, calm, and quiet. If my child ever does something unsatisfactory, I will take a cue from Super Nanny and get down at eye level to explain why the behavior was wrong. I will follow that up with hugs and praise and we'll be the best of friends."

I will never be unfair.
"Whenever we have more than one child, it will be my daily mission to make sure every piece of cake is the same size, every birthday brings the same haul, and every punishment is court-approved. Never will my children doubt my motives."

I will never be annoyed by the precious lives I brought into this world.
"These darling children will be the light of my life. Their very beings stem from a choice we made, so why on Earth would they get on my nerves? It's not like they won't give me a moment's peace every now and again, right?"

Despite breaking all of the above rules, my kids seem to be okay. They are equipped with enough dysfunction to be funny, and they don't seem to mind the "learn-as-you-go" attitude I've adopted. It's always good to have a plan, especially one you can agree on with your partner, but don't be surprised if your kids turn that plan on its head every once in a while. It's okay to mess up. It's okay to be stressed. It's okay to admit to yourself that parenting is hard. However, I will say there's one more "never" statement I made that has since been proven totally wrong:

I will never feel more love than I do knowing there's a person growing inside of me.
"This exact moment, standing in the bathroom with my husband, is the best one I know. I immediately know this child inside of me and the love that we share is instant and unmatched."

Although true at the time, I can't tell you how much my love for Nathan and his siblings has grown since that moment in the wallpapered bathroom of our first rent house. We were ecstatic, we were head-over-heels, and we had absolutely no clue. And the best thing about the love of your children? It doesn't go away.

Even if you break every rule you set out with, that insane, beautiful, perfect love that started from within will never fade. I think that makes up for a lot, doesn't it?

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Unknown said...

I have SO so many rules that I have broken as a parent. I swore my kids would never act up in Walmart, and I would never drive a minivan.

Jessica Bauer said...

That would've been a perfect one for me to add, Karen! "I will never allow my kids to act a fool in public." Oh, how the tides turn, right?