I used to be a non-mom. A single, childless person who was only responsible for one person, ME. It was pretty great actually. From what I remember I slept a lot, could go to restaurants pretty much whenever I wanted, saw a TON of movies (IN THE ACTUAL THEATER) and did a lot of stuff I don’t do now. I also judged parents, like a lot, because being a non-parent I was an expert at parenting, right? I would see parents do certain things and think smugly to myself, “When I have kids I will NEVER DO THAT”. But, then I had kids, and pretty much every single one of those flew out the window and I waved goodbye to them with nary a second look. Here is a list of things I swore I would never do (before I had kids):
1. Bribe them. Oh yes, this was a biggie for me, and if some of you parents don’t do this, BRAVA! My hat is off to you and I send you some virtual applause for being above this. I am firmly not above this, especially when it comes to long travel with the kids. I was a virtual Willy Wonka this past week on the plane, doling out candy like it WAS MY JOB to get the kids to just chill out, relax, and not annoy the other passengers on the plane with the “Turn the light on, turn the light off, turn the light on, turn the light off” game or the “LET ME SHOUT LOUDER THAN THE TAKEOFF NOISES SO YOU CAN HEAR THAT I WANT AN ORANGE JUICE NOW”.
2. Give Them Fast Food. In my defense, this one also usually falls under the “traveling” category, and I DO try to feed them healthy food most of the time (I swear) but when we are on a road trip and I see those golden arches you can hear the tires squealing as I pull in and get them the fastest food I can, hopefully one with a toy that will also keep them occupied. And if there is a Starbucks at the same rest stop?! Ding ding ding! We have a winner folks!
3. Talk About the Potty. I remember before I had kids listening to a friend of mine talk excitedly about how her child had used the potty for the first time and I just couldn’t understand why it would seemingly complete her life in such a way. Then I had my first child. And I potty trained him within a week and OMG I WAS SO FRIGGING EXCITED. I felt like the most accomplished parent ever and wanted to run through the streets shouting at how great I was at potty training. I stopped myself though. Instead I rewarded myself with the leftover potty bribe M&Ms.
4. Let the kids use my iPad, iPhone, etc. That one went almost immediately out the window. As soon as they were old enough to swipe I handed it over. They know how to play games I’ve never even heard of.
5. Hide in Another Room During a Meltdown. We’ve all been there. There is a full blown tantrum going on, you have tried all of your tricks and cures, and nothing is going to help stop it. So maybe you just take a little bathroom trip while the storm blows over. You’re not being neglectful, you’re teaching them how to handle their emotions on their own. That’s right. Just ignore that little voice yelling for you from outside the door over, and over, and over, and over…
6. Refer to a drink as “Mommy Juice”. I never thought I would do this. Until I did. Even past the age when they know you’re not drinking some magical juice that is forbidden for children. Oh wait, that is what wine is though, right?
7. Embarrass them. I always thought I would be the “cool mom”. And I am the cool mom, right? RIGHT? (No I’m not). I’m actually embracing that feeling of being the embarrassing mom, sorry if you don’t want a hug in front of your friends Finn, cause you’re getting one. And I am going to call you Pooh too. My bad. Oh and just wait till you’re a teenager. Just wait.
8. Be a Strict Bed Time Keeper. I’m pretty laid back, and I can let things slide, be a little loosey goosey if need be, but the one thing you DO NOT MESS WITH is my kids’ bedtime. Those kids need to go to bed. I need those kids to go to bed. Bed time is unbreakable in this house. Now go to sleep.
9. Yell. Now, I don’t yell a lot, but I do yell. Sometimes. Like when Jack spilled an entire gallon of milk on the floor, Levy slipped in it and Finn left the door open so both dogs got out at the same time and I had a conference call in four minutes. Sometimes a quick vent can get things back on track real quick. PG rated of course.
10. Wonder How My Life Came to This. Before I had kids, I always assumed I would be pretty decent at it, I figured it couldn’t be THAT hard. But there are some days (like #9 above) where you are just like WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?! Days where you are sitting in old sweatpants surrounded by overly energetic, always hungry children demanding entertainment. Those days pass though. You’ll have awesome days too. Take the good with the bad. Even if the bad involves blow out diapers. Those are the worst.
11. Need to Make Sure the Bathroom is Always Locked. Even if it IS locked there is still a little hand on the door, trying to open it, jiggling the knob, needing to ask me where the graham crackers are or if I fed the fish that morning or what the meaning of life is or if we can have spaghetti with the hot dog octopus thing for dinner. Kids. Full of questions. If I had a quarter for every time I yelled THIS I would spend it on another lock for my bathroom door.
12. Ever Use ANY Parenting Catch Phrases. “Because I said so”, “I’m the mom, that’s why”, “Get off of the television”, you know, those kinds of phrases. I remember the first time I said “Because I said so” and although I died a little bit inside, at the same time I felt pretty great about finally getting to say it.
13. Tell Little White Lies. I always thought it was wrong to tell little white lies to kids. Don’t keep them in the dark! If they ask, tell them the truth! Then I became a parent and learned to embrace the non-answer, or the little white lie. Sometimes little white lies are a special bridge over the gap between the questions your children have and the answers you are willing and/or able to give them at the moment. Sometimes you have to pretend to be a complete moron, admit you have no idea or make up something completely ridiculous. Like “Mom how does the Elf on the Shelf move every night?” “Um, magic.” Or, for example, this was me the other day when Finn asked “Mom, what is time?”