“When I have kids, they will never throw fits in public”.
“When I have kids they won’t be picky eaters”.
“When I have kids they will be off the pacifier before they turn one”
“When I have kids I’m going to breast feed for at least 9 months”.
When I have kids… When I have kids… When I have kids. We have all said it or thought it AT LEAST a few times prior to poppin em out. But when they’re actually standing there in front of you screaming and throwing their body all around in public because you gave them a yellow tortilla chip instead of a blue one, anything you thought about “when you have kids” just flies out the window. Because the truth is, sometimes your kid is going to throw a fit in public for absolutely no obvious reason, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Sometimes your kid is going to refuse to eat the healthy freshly cooked breakfast you set in front of him, but will happily eat the sweet potato cereal puffs that have been sitting in his snack container for a week. Sometimes giving your kid their pacifier when it’s the only thing that will get them to sleep is the best option you’ve got, and sometimes your milk production slows down far before you’d planned it to.
Nothing about parenthood is predictable, but that’s the beauty in it. “When I have this kid, I will love him more than anything in the entire world”… I thought to myself often as I watched my son somersault around in my tummy. But it is impossible to understand or predict how overwhelmingly true that is until your little one is snuggled up next to you in bed saying “mama” as he nestles his head into your neck. Every fit, every tantrum, every ‘hand in the toilet for the third time today’ incident is instantly forgotten with one sweet little smile.
Last week while on vacation in Newport, my husband and I took our son to breakfast. The establishment was full of business folk looking for a little peace and quiet before starting their busy work days. And what a surprise… Our son spent the entire 30 minute meal screaming because he didn’t want the strawberries and potatoes that we got him. We both left in somewhat of a bad mood, only to take him back to the hotel room in which he threw another giant fit because he couldn’t play in the bathroom. Right as I hit my limit, my son started crawling around on the floor uttering the sweetest “meow” sounds I’ve ever heard, pretending to be a kitten. And just like that, I’d forgotten about all of the chaos and all of the times that I had ever been ridiculous enough to think “when I have kids, they will never misbehave in a restaurant”.
The next day, my husband had to tend to business in the area, so I decided to have a day date with my son. I found a Barnes and Nobel near the hotel, got my ice coffee, and took him to the kids section of the store. It all was going great for the five whole minutes leading up to the moment in which my son found a toy that he wanted. I told him “no”, to which he responded “BYE!!!” and took off running towards the elevator with said toy. As I went to chase him, the weight of my purse on the back of the stroller caused it to tip backwards, sending my coffee flying and giving my son just enough time to reach the elevator. I jumped into the elevator and swooped him up just before the doors closed. And yet somehow after all of that, we left the store that day with a stuffed animal in hand, despite the many times in which pre baby me thought “my kids will never get rewarded for bad behavior”. But you know what? After the elevator incident, he cuddled up in my lap for a few sweet moments of book reading…found a stuffed animal he liked… imitated the sound that he thought it made….and then nodded his head yes so very enthusiastically when I asked him if he was going to be a good boy. So yes, I bought my baby that souvenir polar bear stuffed animal (that he thinks is a cat). And what do you know… He was a perfect angel baby for the rest of our day date and that stuffed animal has been his favorite possession ever since.
My point in all of this is that in the parenting world, things don’t always go to plan. Even if you are an over the top organized planning freak like me, shit happens (literally… sometimes your kid is going to poop in their diaper just as you’re walking into dinner). Going against all of the “when I have kids…” that pre parent you ever uttered does not make you a bad parent, it makes you a completely normal parent… A completely normal parent who is learning and evolving…A completely normal parent who is doing your best… A completely normal parent who probably deserves a really long bath, an early bed time, and a pat on the back (or a rub on the back if your significant other is feeling generous).