I think most parents would admit that we all have moments
when we think, "I really suck at this parenting thing." For me, that moment
arrived recently when my husband turned and looked at me brushing our toddler's
teeth before bed and said this: "Is that Desitin?" Yes, yes it was Desitin and
not that tube of pricey, all-natural kid toothpaste I thought I had reached
When newly pregnant, we stock the house with everything we
expect will create a magical, happy and healthy environment for our new life
with baby. We envision ourselves as a picture-perfect parent with endless
amounts of patience and the energy to create fun games, fancy family
dinners and vacations.
Although I'm fairly new to this parenting thing (almost
three years in), I've discovered a few of my own misaligned parenting
expectations along the way. Any of these sound familiar?
1. Bye-bye bath
I'm lucky if each gets their face and paws dampened with a wet wipe before bed.
In the beginning, I lovingly bathed my new little baby every
night as part of the perfectly prescribed soothing bedtime routine. Now, with
two slippery kids (one an infant), I'm lucky if each gets their
face and paws dampened with a wet wipe before bed. Baths slowly whittled down
to every other night, and now maybe every three days? OK, OK, every weekend!
2. No TV! Yeah, right.
We shielded my firstborn from all TV, even covering her eyes
if it happened to be on. We created
new smartphone limitations for ourselves and promised that she would have no screen time until the approved
age of 2.
As someone who grew up in a household without cable (eek!), where a common phrase was, "It'll rot your brain," I wasn't just following
the experts' advice. I truly hoped my kids will grow into the bookworms that my
siblings and I did.
Flash-forward: Both kids, including the not-yet-1-year-old
are big-time "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood"
fans, and, if I'm being truly honest, the iPad is now basically owned by the toddler. Of
course, we still read to them both every day, but we definitely have embraced screen time, too.
3. What birthday party?
In the Pinterest era, it often feels like everyone is throwing their kid an elaborate birthday party complete with Disney character themes and matching gift bags. I never aspired to those heights, but I did hope to at least bake my kids their own cakes, because my mom did so for me. Of course, I also remember my mom staying up late after working all day to frost these cakes for each of us.
So far, I've managed to bake one cake (no frosting) and throw two very low-key affairs, which could hardly be called parties. Maybe it'll be different for that fourth birthday. Or fifth. Or 16th.
There's not a lot to say here except this lasted all of
three months with my first kid. We went straight to Pampers for the second one.
I could blame daycare here as they didn't allow cloth diapers, but the truth is
I was relieved to hear it. My daughter got terrible rashes with cloth and it
was a whole lot of washing that I didn't have time for, to be honest. Kudos to
those who stick this one out.
5. The family that travels together stays together? Ha!
I officially loathe traveling with my kids and I'm not ashamed to say it.
My kids will be well-traveled, global citizens who eagerly look
forward to train, plane and car trips together where we will take in the sights, learn a little something and dine together on exciting new cuisines. The kids will happily drift off to sleep in their strollers at appointed nap times and in the pop-up crib at night, worn out by a busy day, all the while becoming more at ease with facing new situations and fending off jet lag.
Um, yeah, that didn't happen.
I officially loathe traveling with my kids and I'm not
ashamed to say it. We are THAT family on the airplane whenever we do travel, the ones carrying what seems like their entire house with them (well over the minimum carry-on limits) sweating, covered in spit-up and cracker
bits and delaying takeoff for a toddler who won't sit in her seat.
Maybe this will change as they get older? Or maybe they'll
need to live out these travel fantasies on their own, perhaps in college.
OK, this is one I really wish I could be better about. I'm
not a naturally patient person, but I thought that somehow that overwhelming love
thing you have for your kids would magically melt away that short fuse. Or the opposite could happen.
It turns out that when your kid is throwing their fourth
tantrum of the day because you have selfishly not allowed them the honor of
cutting up their own waffle, and you have about five minutes to pile the whole
family into the car to go to daycare and the train, you might just
scream. You might even scream an obscenity.