When I first became a mom, there was an entire list of things I knew I had to do for my baby, and an entire list of things I swore I would never do as a parent. As a mom I work daily on the ever-growing list of ‘have-to-dos’. As a mom, I’ve also given up on the list of things I said I would never do. Let’s take a look at my list of, “oh, well that didn’t turn out the way I planned it”, shall we?
I had one rule – my husband wasn’t allowed to go anywhere below my waist at any time during labor. We discussed it throughout the course of my pregnancy, I didn’t want him seeing my vagina looking like an open-mouthed hungry, hungry, hippo. He’s squeamish. I knew he would never be able to un-see that. He’d just replay it again and again in his mind. Reality set in when we ended up with a C-section and the anesthesiologist forced my husband to “watch his son being born” – so now my hubby has my opened, gaping, uterus playing on endless replay in his mind. Oh well, at least it wasn’t my vagina.
So, I always had the mentality that I didn’t care if my kid would end up drinking formula. I was set on not putting that kind of pressure on myself and my body. My mother never had enough breast milk for my sister or myself, so we were both formula-fed and turned out completely fine. I mean, I’m a little eccentric, a touch awkward, and a splash of crazy, but that has nothing to do with formula… I don’t think. When my baby was born, this course of thinking changed rapidly. I was so convinced that I had to breastfeed that I couldn’t see straight for trying so hard. I tried through the bleeding, through the searing pain, through the improper latching, until finally it didn’t hurt anymore. I was set on not having to give my kid formula. Quite the turnaround eh? Until my supply wasn’t enough, and frankly the late-night feeds and lack of sleep were affecting my mental health, that’s when I finally caved, six months postpartum. Formula definitely helped. Quite the turnaround again. I said I wouldn’t care, then I did. I said I wouldn’t give him formula, and then I did. Moms plan… and the world laughs.
Oh man, The Idiot Box. I remember being so upset with my husband for even watching television with my son in the same room. I had read so much research on how television could delay my baby’s development, and that if it absolutely could not be avoided… you should interact with your baby while the television is on, and explain exactly what he is seeing so he’s getting the one-on-one communication. So, there my husband was, explaining the rules of soccer and doing his own version of the sport commentator in my living room, with my 2-month-old son. I would insist he limit the time he spent even doing this – television was bad after all! Fast forward to my 2-year-old watching my smartphone at the local breakfast place while I shovel pancakes in my gaping mouth at lightning speed. Oh, and I LOVE me some Paw Patrol at 5:30 am when it gives me 30 extra minutes of sleep. Now that I think about it, I’ve become rather good at sleeping over the noise of cartoons in the background.
I swore that my kid would have gender neutral everything. He would play with the pink dollies and barbies, as much as he would play with firetrucks. I would buy him gender neutral clothing – he wouldn’t have to wear all blues and greens, if he felt like a pink t-shirt, then giddy up. Turns out that was stupid because a) everyone bought him gendered clothing, even when I didn’t, and b) my kid loves all stereotypically boy things. He throws the baby doll I bought him across the room and insists on playing with cars and trains all day long. At least I’ve got him loving Moana – Little Mermaid wasn’t a hit, to my great dismay. I guess I didn’t factor in the fact that my child would have his own personality, his own likes and dislikes, when it came to this kind of stuff.
For some reason, god only knows what that reason was, I thought that I would be an easy breezy, no schedule, go with the flow, kind of mom. Yeah, me – the girl who up until the point of becoming a mom had a breakdown every time her daily routine changed due to unforeseen circumstances (Not as much of an issue anymore. Since with a baby, no plan is ever certain, I’ve had to adapt). I thought I would feed the baby whenever, he would nap whenever he felt like napping, so on and so forth. I would be calm and collected. Up until the point of becoming a mom I hadn’t read a single parenting or birthing book, because I didn’t want to tamper with my new easy and care free nature! What did I need to scare myself with all these parenting and birthing horror stories for? Naw, I was going to be a cool cucumber. Fast forward to 3 weeks after my baby was born, and I was furiously researching what the best butt paste was for his little tush, how to properly sleep train him to adhere to a strict sleep and feed schedule, and if it was time to hire a sleep trainer or not? Yeah, easy breezy my ass. I’m proud to announce that I have since mellowed out and am finally somewhere in the middle of aforementioned cool cucumber and psychotic helicopter mom.
Needless to say – having a kid is nothing like what I expected it would be. It’s so much better, in so many ways, than I could have imagined, and it’s so much scarier in others. Most importantly, I’ve learned to let go of the preconceived notion of parenting the way I’m expected to – whether it’s the expectations of those around me, or it’s my own initial expectations of myself. I’ve learned that it’s okay to adapt, change your mind, learn, and grow as a parent. I’ve also learned, and very recently, that it’s okay to be an imperfect human – it doesn’t make me any less of an amazing mom. I now know that taking time to take care of myself is allowed, and if that means my son watches a little television with my husband while I’m getting my nails done – then fuck it. My child won’t begrudge me for this time I take for myself, and it doesn’t make me any less of a mother if I need it and take it. It makes me better, because it gives me the time to come back refreshed and allows me to continue momming like a boss.