Friday, September 13, 2013

Dear Mommies and Daddies.....

Dear Mommies and Daddies, Mommies and Daddies To Be, Future Mommies and Daddies,

After having three kids, I DO in fact have much knowledge to share with you. I have lived, learned, and still learning. I still struggle and have my highs and lows in parenting. I make mistakes that I hope will not screw up my child or more so that they're too young to remember these mistakes. So, you want some insider secrets, please let me give them to you.

I have never believed in "you'll never know what you'll do until you're in someone else's shoes" until I had kids. I thought I had my beliefs and how I would raise my children all figured out. My children would NOT be the ones I saw so often at Wal-Mart. You know the ones I would grocery shopping with their parents, kicking and screaming because their parents wouldn't buy them Pepsi or a toy. I'd roll my eyes and think "no way in hell are my someday children going to act like that!" Then I had children.

I realized they cry at the silliest of things which are completely uncontrollable by parents, kids do gross things at the most inappropriate times (I once had an elderly lady tell me how cute my middle child was as he wiped a booger on her arm....he's also done this to his aunt's several times), that it's impossible to have a perfectly well behaved child. Several months ago, I was shopping in Old Navy when my middle child climbed into a clothing rack. I had all three kids with me and couldn't get him out. I had to recruit the nearest sales associate to help me grab him. A few weeks after that incident, my husband took the kids to ON, when our same middle child completely de-pants a mannequin to look for the mannequin's...ummm, private parts. He proudly announced to the store there weren't any there. The store employees smile nervously whenever we walk in now. You too will have your moment like this. I can only hope it's nothing less than burnt cheeks embarrassing because no mom's life is complete without one disastrous tale that ends in tears and you hope, one day, will make a fantastic tale. I'm still waiting for mine to be funny, I still cry tears of dread when I re-tell the story.

 I want to let you in on a secret: not all children are the same. All children require different parenting. My parenting styles may not be what you or your child need, but they work for me, my children, us, our family. You will have no idea what I'm talking about until you have children of your own. You may not even realize it until you've had two or more children. You will find you must parent each child completely different to fit their personality, your beliefs and fit it all together in your family dynamic. Sound mind boggling? It is and I won't begin to ask you to understand. Only to stop judging how another mother or father chooses to parent.

I want you to know that it's okay if you don't look like a movie star. Every day I get up and shower then immediately put on sweats, gym shorts, tank tops, sweat shirts, or occasionally put my pajamas back on. I wear no make up most days. My biggest decision for the day is if I wear slippers, flip flops or really do it up by wearing tennis shoes to chase after the kids. I greet my daycare families everyday this way. If you told me 6 years ago I would be doing this, I would have cried, or more than likely lashed out irrationally. How can someone let themselves "go" after having kids? I'll tell you how-you realize there's more going on in a day that's more important than one putting on fancy clothes and make up, just to have it get ruined before 10 am by the latest painting project.

I want you to know that it's okay if everything you believed in changed after you took one look at your babes. I am telling you, the world changes the day you become a mom. Once what was the most important thing in the world to you, has taken a backseat to the greatest thing you'll ever do and be. I worry about the mom's who refuse to change their life to fit their child and I feel sorry for that child. I wish every child in the world could FEEL like the most important child in the world. Once you have a child, you will feel this way too.

Your relationship with everyone in your life will change. Some of your best friends will no longer be in your life, people you had thought were out of your life suddenly become a saving grace, you look at family in whole new light, your job will always be second on your mind (or at least it should be to some extent), and your relationship with your husband/wife/significant other will change dramatically. Coming from a marriage stand point, parenting dramatically alters your relationship. You have a new respect for each other, yet have to learn how to have family time, couple time, and me time. It's a balancing act and you can only fight to stay strong. Yet....

Three kids and 8 years later, there will still be fights. Even about something as stupid as dinner and kids schedules. We may seem like we have our shit together, but dude, shit falls apart. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and pull that shit together. That means compromising. Yeah, I'm not so great at it, but it's an important part of raising kids better than ourselves.

You will be tired. You will have a 3 am meltdown from not sleeping properly in weeks. I won't even try to suggest to pawn the baby off on somebody else and catch some shuteye. That's not always an option.  So suck it up girlfriend. You're a mom now. Being tired is part of the game.

Teething will be the worse thing you've ever experienced, for both you and your child. It's totally okay if you want to bitch slap the mom who just found teeth in her baby's mouth. Not fair in the least. Here's a giant teething tip that no one tells you: NOTHING helps a teething baby. More than likely, your baby will get sick around the time they get a tooth every single  time. So you're dealing with a sick and teething baby. I believe teething is a right of passage in my book. You don't really get your parenting badge until you've dealt with teething.

15 months after having my last child and my body is completely different. My boobs are bff's with my belly button, I have stretch marks on my legs, a horrid looking scar on my stomach from my C-sections, my feet are wide and flat, and since the birth of my third child, I get horrible migraines. I've been told it can take years for my body to find it's new normal. I'm "patiently" waiting....

Pick up a large rock about the size of your hand. Feel that solid rock? Yea, at some point in the two weeks after giving birth, those will be your boobs. It hurts like a bitch. It's not fun. Best advice: invest in a good breast pump because very few babies actually breast feed completely successfully right from the start. You'll actually probably need to use the pump at some point to even get your baby to latch. Breastfeeding will be the hardest, most trying thing you'll ever do in your life. That being said....

Formula is not your enemy. Breastfeeding isn't for everyone. As long as you feed your child, your golden in my book.

Some days will be beyond frustrating. Everyone mommy has those days. Not everyday is the perfect snuggly baby from the Pampers commercials and toddlers.....don't even get me started. It's okay to run screaming from the house as soon as your spouse, help, sitter, or whomever arrives. It's also beyond ok to lock yourself in the bathroom and have a good cry. There will be those days.

First child changes your life, second child is an addition (although for me was the hardest to get use to because my second was a very clingy baby), third child is game changer. Even for the most organized person, you have to go beyond organization. You have to be two steps ahead of your children or even the simplest tasks in your day (like getting the kids dressed) will fail. I've been told any children after three is easy peasy, but I have no first hand experience in that and never will.

Don't be afraid to tell your child "no." Yeah, there have been studies done about a child's morale and behavior when they're told the word no. I'm calling bs. Trust me on this one, the last thing you want is a four year old who's never heard the word no. You'll want to do more than lock yourself in the bathroom and cry. So, when your nine month old starts going for the outlets, redirect all you want. Nothing works like the word "no."

Children are not born with censors and a compass. They need you to build that for them. That's why the word no is important and discipline to go along with it. It's hard and you'll want to scream at your five year old when he looks at you and says "hey! You never got me any milk!" Respond with "did you ask me for milk?" He'll look at you with the blankest stare and reply "no." Taking the time to explain why this is inappropriate and what to do is important. Hard and frustrating? Yes, but he/she will be better for it.

Get use to poop and pee or the two p's as I say. It will be everywhere the next ten years of your life. You may have a baby who poops as soon as you takes his diaper off at 4 am and it shoots across the room. Then you'll hit the stage where baby enjoys taking off his/her diaper during naps and poops all over the crib. Then you hit the stage where they are totally not ready to be potty trained but just want to take their diaper off anyways. Get ready for the two p's all over your house. Then there's potty training. I've heard the words "I pooped on the floor!" more times than I can count. I've stepped in a puddle of pee and I've been peed on "just to see" what happens. If you have boys, get ready. It seems like they purposefully miss the toilet. Or you may find them trying to pee on the ceiling just for funsies. I'm all for experimenting, just not with the two p's. However, you'll get to a point where it just won't gross you out.

You will never be completely ready to be a parent. No matter how much prep work you've done, how cute that Pottery Barn nursery looks, and you've got all of the latest gadgets and inventions, it will not be enough. You'll find that pacifier thermometer is useless unless your child sucks on it for exactly 1 minute. When they're feeling crappy, the last thing they'll want to do is suck on an unfamiliar thing. That electronic nose sucker? Doesn't work as good as the simple snot sucker you're sent home with from the hospital. Live and learn.

Fyi-your child is not the greatest child to ever walk the planet. He/she may be to YOU, but every mommy feels this way. Every mom has a right to brag about her children because they are superstars, just don't expect everyone else to feel the same way. Respond with a "that's great" about junior's latest accomplishment and restrain from rolling your eyes. There will always be those parents who over brag about their children. Ignore them. All children are great. Don't give in to the "competition" and know your child is great too.

Now mommies and daddies, I do not wish you luck. Parenting is not about luck. I wish for you knowledge and strength to be good parents. For everything mentioned above and for everything beyond this, I wish you sanity. A good beverage after a long day may be needed. I wish that you have a support system in place because you will need it. I am always happy to share my own stories and experiences with you. Just know you are not the first parents to go through parenting. May everything go as smoothly as possible, even though you now have the insider info to know that smoothly truly means half of a train wreck.


A Mom of Three