I wrote this article as a guest post on Daddy Doin’ Work. But I thought I’d also post it here because it’s just so awesome. 😉
You know you’ve done it before kids – rolling your eyes at parents whose kids are having a tantrum in the middle of Toys R Us, playground, or in the middle of a restaurant while they simply sit there and watch. You think to yourself, “Why isn’t that parent doing anything about it?!” Fast forward years later, and I am that parent whose child is having a breakdown in public, letting them kick their feet until they’re done. Or how about seeing the parents at a table chatting while their little one is on an iPhone or iPad thinking, “When I have kids, they’re going to never use one of those at the dinner table”? You guessed it. Fast forward years later, and every once in a while when mommy and daddy are dying for a night out at dinner trying to avoid a huge tantrum, you better believe that iPad comes out.
I shake my head at how my single self once thought how I could do it better when I became a parent, when in reality, every family has a different story, different circumstances, and different dynamics. Overall, I now know that everyone should really be more empathetic rather than judgmental; however, this is what my single self would say to my mommy self:
1) I’m sorry I thought saying nothing was bad parenting:
We’ve all witnessed kids having meltdowns. Whether it is from not getting a toy, to not feeling well, to being upset that mommy is making a kid wear shoes when he wants to go barefoot. AND to top that all off, when a person watches all of this go down says nothing, or calmly tells them, “It’s cool” and then takes a trip to Judgment City. Being a parent I’ve learned that some kids are just more emotional than others, and each kid is different. Techniques that would calm one child down, won’t necessarily work for another kid (at least in my experience). AND… even sometimes giving a child the attention in the middle of a tantrum, can only entice them more because it’s getting the attention of mommy and daddy. As long as the kid isn’t hurting themselves or others, sometimes just saying nothing can disengage the situation and allow your child to get out their frustrations.
2) I’m sorry I thought technology at the table meant lazy parenting:
Having an engineering background, and being around technology my entire life really makes me want to embed my children in technology except for instances of being social. Now that I’m a parent, I know that whipping out my smart phone does in fact help. I’m not saying this is a constant occurrence in my household, but sometimes in public with a very over-active kid, it buys us time to eat and go, vs. packing everything in to-go containers. Coming from a family with only one local grandparent who travels 9 out of the 12 months, and who has siblings who all have young kids, going out can be difficult for us (especially with a kid who takes a while to warm up to people – so sitters are not easy to come by)…sometimes my hubs and I are dying to go out to dinner, that bringing Mr. iPad can allow us the 10-15 minutes of dinnertime we need to reconnect.
3) I’m sorry I thought discipline always needed to include spanking:
Pre-mommyhood, I never understood “time outs.” I always thought they were for the weak, and were never effective. Especially since I was brought up in a spanking era. Now don’t get me wrong, if you choose that form of discipline (within reason), all power to you. But after being a parent, I don’t feel that I could spank my kids. So I’m that parent who now implements an effective time-out system.
4) I’m sorry I thought a messy house meant time-management incompetence:
I’m a neat freak and a germaphobe. I still need to make sure my home is sanitized and wiped, but when it comes to crackers on the sofa, floor, or even toys all over the place; cleaning up after every crumb or every opened toy left me cleaning all day long. Literally it was non-stop. So what do I do now? I wait until the end of the day (or nap-time) to clean up. Because I find that I can be more time-efficient that way. Especially being a WAHM. I’m even considering creating a nice sign that says, “Excuse the mess, my children are busy making memories.”
5) I’m sorry I thought nursing after children got their teeth was not necessary:
I know every mom is different, but nursing is very enjoyable for me. After being told odds were against me and nursing, I was determined to just get to 6 months – especially after I always thought after teeth came in, it just wasn’t needed. Now I’m 18 months in and I still love it. I think because having such an active kid, nursing really is a time my son and I can be calm and connect. I feel like I could do it for a while, because once it’s done, it can never come back. I support any and all lengths of nursing times for sure.
6) I’m sorry I thought I’d always use a tissue to wipe up boogers:
Now this is coming from my neat freak side – I always knew I wouldn’t need to wipe up eye crusties, boogers, throw-up, drool, and even poop with nothing else but a tissue, wipe or towel…WRONG! I think my hands are first to react, and then reaching out for the Kleenex is a close second. I used to watch in bitter disgust when I saw that string of snot coming away from a child’s nose from a parent’s hand. Now I don’t think twice about it, because really, sometimes you just cant get to the tissue in time, and (as crazy as it sounds), the hand is honestly just softer than the tissue.
Now I can sit back and say that we should all learn to not be so judgmental because no one ever knows anyone’s life story – especially when it comes to kids. Parents will always find a way to raise their kids that work for the different personality types, and for their particular lifestyles. Being a parent is hard work and it’s something we should all support – and even take a moment to apologize for the misconceptions we had before becoming a parent. I just hope that my mommy self can forgive me.