So, today I was visiting one of my old haunts…an online horsie community…and one of the things being discussed was parenting advice. Of course, there was some great advice – and then of course, there was also some…not so good advice.
And then I realized that a lot of the people giving this advice were not even parents (!!). And that reminded me of the all great parenting skills I had before *I* was a parent.
It’s amazing, actually – I was an Expert Parent, the parent whose child would *NEVER* misbehave in public (because that’s annoying and a clear indication of a terrible parent, right?), I would never do this, never do that, my kid would never do this, never do that, CERTAINLY never eat McDonald’s two days in a row or sit in front of the TV for an afternoon, etc., etc…the list goes on, and on, and on…
I pretty much knew it all. After all, I watched the Super Nanny and had friends with kids. When I was pregnant I dutifully read the Babycenter bulletin that I received each week with updates on my pregnancy and brief parenting articles to prepare me for the real thing. I read The Girlfriend’s Guide to The First Year (or something like that). I. Knew. It. All.
But then my baby was born.
Oh, my. Not like the articles. Not like the parenting books. Absolutely not like the ads in the pregnancy magazines (you know, the ones with the snuggly little newborns sleeping peacefully in their cribs while their parents sip wine in the living room and watch their favorite TV show). No. It wasn’t like that.
I am pretty sure I ate my first words – the first “I will never” – when I Jack was about three days old. Our first night home.
I distinctly remember an email I sent to a friend of mine that said “I will NEVER sleep with my baby!” Well…umm…yeah. Day three of parenting. I am sleeping with my baby. I guess I didn’t realize that you just can’t put a baby down when you feel like it. Seriously. I thought they all just slept in cribs, and by the time they were about six weeks old they were all just sleeping through the night because that’s what babies do.
That was just the beginning.
I have lost track of how many times I have eaten those words (and oh, how bitter they are). I am still counting, and probably will be for a long time.
But it’s not just the “I will never” comments I am wishing I had never said.
It’s also the “My kid will never” comments.
Yeah, that’s right. Nothing like a two-year old to put you in your place!
For example. The other day I was in the maternity store (that’s right, we’re having another one!) and Jack and Charles were in the play area (this is an awesome maternity store – it has a giant TRUCK! and BLOCKS! and TOYS!). I was checking out when all of a sudden I hear The Scream.
When Jack screams, he SCREAMS. As in, the most ear-piercing, glass-shattering scream you have ever heard. I promise this is true, and I’m not just saying that because it’s worse hearing my own child scream. No. He can really scream.
So he starts doing this in the maternity store. I am wishing that the cashier would please hurry up and ring this damn sweater up already. I see Charles picking Jack up and the scream gets, if even possible, worse. I notice every Soon-to-be-Mom and Soon-to-be-Dad (no doubt all Perfect Parents like I was) staring. I see a few smug couples look at each other and I know that look (“Our kid will NEVER!”). I see Charles stuff Jack under his arm and start making his way to the door. Jack is kicking, screaming, and screaming some more. The knowing looks intensify.
At first I want to cry. But then I kind of want to laugh. I mean, I know what these people are thinking! And even better than that, I know their futures! One day they will be dragging their screaming child out of a store and they will think of my screaming child and remember that day in January of 2011 when they said “My child will NEVER!” – as their child DOES.