Before I became a mom I would quietly observe and judge moms around me, criticizing their parenting skills by what they allowed their children to do and how their children behaved. I recall quite often thinking to myself “I would never let my child do that” or “my children would never behave that way”.
I had this vision of how “perfect” my parenting situation would be. For one, I imagined myself to be a calm, collected and rested mom. Then there would be my children: booger-free, polite and relatively tame. My children would graciously eat all the healthy meals before them and everywhere we went we would forever be relaxed, happy, and in harmony.
Like most things in life, parenting didn’t quite plan out the exact way I had anticipated, and I eventually realized there were a number of things I had to learn to let go of or accept in order to find balance and keep sane. Here are just a few:
- My kids will never throw a tantrum in public – I used to stand in line in the grocery store, judging the mom in front of me as she panicked and ineffectively tried to keep her toddler under control. She has no authority, I thought, clearly she must be doing something wrong. This was of course until I had kids of my own and realized that while we may seek to have discipline over our children at every occasion, there are certain things out of our control. For example, combine an already cranky toddler and an aisle of candy bars together and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm (aka. tantrum) you simply cannot escape.
- I won’t have booger-faced kids – See that snotty kid running around the park? I used to think, “poor child, if only his mother would clean him”. I told myself that my kids would never have boogers all over their faces. But the truth is these boogers are sometimes a force that cannot be reckoned with, like a river with a current that you simply can’t swim against. Especially when your kids have a cold. So, yes, I admit there have been many days when my kid was that crusty snot faced kid you see in the park. I have come to terms with it.
- My house will always be clean – I recall looking at some family homes, seeing toys everywhere, bathroom sinks with caked toothpaste, and finger prints all over the mirrors. Geez, did these women ever clean? Um yes, they do. In fact, they clean so much and yet see few results. Children are mini-tornadoes storming through our homes. We can only keep up to a certain point.
- My kids will never eat fast food – I used to wonder what kind of parent would allow their children to eat greasy, processed food? Or meat packed with preservatives coming from who knows which part of which animal? Yep, that is what I used to think. But the truth is fast food is everywhere, hot dogs in particular, and sometimes you simply cannot avoid it. As with most bad things for our bodies, fast food in moderation isn’t going to kill us.
I wouldn’t say I’m that far off from being the type of mom I envisioned I would be. I am still true to my morals and values, but I have learnt to be more realistic in my expectations. I have equally gained perspective and now know to focus on what really matters and to let go what doesn’t.
To that childless woman now standing behind me in the grocery store aisle with her arms crossed and her nose out of joint, I say one thing to you ma’am: just wait … one day you too will get it.