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think back to the naive promises I made to myself before my kids were born, I
laugh. Out loud. I remember vividly how I vowed I’d never go to McDonald’s for a meal or
buy merchandise with licensed characters. Oh, the pacts I made with myself—most of which I broke as soon as I
actually became a mother.
I can see
so clearly now how those early vows set me up for pain and failure. You can imagine my shame that first time I pulled into Mickey D’s for a Happy Meal so my kids could get the Disney movie prize. I never had enough resolve to live up to my
own expectations, and life was always messier and more chaotic than I could
have ever imagined.
So, I don’t
do that to myself anymore. Except when I
day I told my husband that our kids will “never play video games.” I followed
up that declaration with “and they’ll never have smartphones.” My husband responded with a nod and a look
that conveyed how crazy he thought I was to make pronouncements about the
I would be better off if I tweaked my vision to include some gray area.
And I’m doing it again. Here I am, poised on the brink of kindergarten
for my oldest child, and I have a developed an ever-growing laundry list of
boundaries for my kids’ tween and teenager years. Even though I know better, I am forming
absolute opinions about what will and will not
happen under my roof, even though we are still a few years away from the implementation
of these rules.
They will play team sports.
We will always have family dinner.
We will never eat meals in the car.
We won’t watch TV because we will be
reading the classics.
I know better than to prescribe rules for some future period
of parenting. But, still, I have this
persistent, utopian vision of how I will stave off the evils that parents of
older children are complaining about. I’ll do it differently!I will not succumb!
It makes as
much sense to say my son will never play Minecraft as it was to say I’d never
use pacifiers or let my kids play with plastic toys. But, I cling to a future version of myself and my family, even though it
ends up making me feel like a failure when reality hits. I would be better off if I tweaked my vision
to include some gray area, but the appeal of visualizing future me who always
acts in perfect accordance with her aspirations is just too alluring. And who knows? Maybe this time life will go
exactly like I plan.