As a friend recently said to me at a baby shower: “Before I was a parent, I was such a good mom.”
It’s true. There are so many assumptions we make about what kind of parent we’ll be. No junk food, no screen time, no cheap plastic toys. “I’ll buy everything discount,” you tell yourself. “I don’t need to be spending crazy money on stuff.”
My husband likes nice things. He’s a quality over quantity guy. And as someone who loves a good deal, this has been hard for me to wrap my head around. I’m not into buying things just because they’re cheap, but if I’ve inherited anything from my mother, it’s that compliments about clothing should be immediately followed by all details regarding its price point — “Oh! Just $5 at Old Navy!” — rather than anything about its color, quality, or the like.
When we started choosing baby stuff, we tried to remain sensible, buying middle-of-the-road gear, knowing that we truly had our hearts set on the top of the line. After a few months, we caved and upgraded to a stroller at a price point I’m not proud to admit, but setting in motion a series of parenting decisions that I’m totally fine with.
I breastfed my child, and happily so. We made it 10 months, even after I went back to work full time, filling my days with pump sessions and lactation tea. But our “journey” came to an end, and we made the switch to formula until it was time to transition to food.
Fast forward six months, and we’re parenting a full-blown kid, food opinions and all. I swore up and down I wouldn’t feed my son “kid food,” but when he’s throwing everything on the floor, Annie’s Mac and Cheese is a win I’m gonna take.
I stressed for months about making him these elaborate meals featuring every food group and hidden veggies. But ultimately, filling that kid’s belly wins out (within reason, of course) and sometimes, the fine folks at P. Terry's make that happen.
Typically, we’ve skipped plastic toys in favor of more aesthetically pleasing options. Unfortunately, my kid’s tastes are a little less high-brow and a little more high-stimulation. Attractive wooden toy? No thanks. Give him the one that makes all the noise and probably features a character of sorts.
While I’m not fully ready to let this one go, let's just say we have more than a few plastic items in ye olde Amazon cart. What can you do?
Which leads me to screen time. Oh, screen time. Sure, we’re told that for children under 2 years old, no screen time is best. And I agree. It’s something they have their whole lives to enjoy and probably obsess over, so there’s no need to jumpstart that codependent relationship.
But suddenly my little lump of a baby is a toddler with energy to match, and sometimes mama needs the electronic babysitter to take the wheel. It started innocently with Sesame Street at snack time. Now, we’ve introduced my automobile-obsessed kiddo to Pixar’s Cars and it’s all over. Sure, I have the Rascal Flatts version of “Life is a Highway” on a loop in my head (really), but if my blur-of-a-child will sit still long enough for me to have lunch and take a conference call, I’ll willingly make that sacrifice.
I’ve talked about mom-shaming, and I’m sure that many will take offense at some of my statements. But that’s okay. I may not be the kind of parent I said I’d be, but I’m the kind of parent I’m happy to be.