Before I was his mum

Oh, I was such a great parent before I had kids. I knew exactly how to parent.

I was supermarket tutter (I would never give my child a kinder surprise just because they asked for it), I was a smirker on planes (I would never put a child on a plane late at night – I mean you’re just asking for trouble), I was a eye roller over my latte (my child would be well behaved in cafes!)

And I was so breathtakingly wrong. I don’t even know where to begin. Here are some of my dumbest pre-kid ideas:

No screen time for my babies!

Don’t you know? Screen time is The Worst. You may as well let your child play with broken glass covered in wasps. It’d be safer. Kids turn into zombies in front of the TV. Get them outside! Get them in NATURE.

Fuck nature. It’s always fucking raining. The fact that TV turns kids into zombies for five seconds is the whole point. That’s what you want so you can make them a nourishing meal for them to throw on the floor.

Which brings me to my next DUMB IDEA.

They’ll eat what they’re given and they’ll stay at the table until they’re finished!

I will not be pandering to my toddler. If he won’t eat what has been made for him he’ll go to bed hungry. He needs to learn that we are not his servants. I was forced to eat my veges and he will too.

We are his servants. He can eat whatever he wants as long as it’s something. Because not eating means waking us up at 2am then 3am then 4am then 5.30am because he wants 600g of luncheon. Just luncheon. Nothing else. He wants the worst not-even-meat there is. He loves that crushed up every-part-of-the-animal crap. It’s better than cheese. Which he will also eat if it’s just cheese on its own.

Pre-kids I knew how to deal with picky eaters – you force them to eat. Whatever is in front of them. Then they won’t be picky.

Except that when you’re actually staring at your child you actually can’t force them to eat because you realise how messed up it is to force anyone to eat when they don’t want to. Don’t get me wrong I’ve thought about it. And I once made him cry when in frustration I said “For God’s Sake JUST EAT”. Not my best parenting moment.

A stressed out dinner time is not what we want. He picks up on it, we feel shit, and he doesn’t eat. So we don’t push it.

When he’s 18  30 he won’t still be eating luncheon. In all seriousness, it feels like a long-game. I don’t want him to have messed up attitudes toward food. We grow veges together as a family, and we cook them up and eat them – or he picks beans or cherry tomatoes straight from the garden and eats them raw. You win some, you lose some. Some weeks it’s all plain rice crackers and cucumber. The next it’s eating 4/7 of the meals made for him.

Now the next one is ridiculous.

I want the lounge to stay ours.

I don’t want us to be one of those houses where there’s just toys and shit everywhere. The lounge is an adult space. I want a basket of toys (wooden, heuristic, just a few – kids don’t really need many toys) that can be slid under a coffee table or something. Out of sight, out of mind. Then we can have time not being parents. You know, in the evening, after they go to bed at a reasonable time. We can have a glass of wine and toast what great parents we are.

Here’s my lounge:

The balloons are from a party about a month ago.

The balloons are from a party about a month ago.

When the kids are finally in bed. We try to do a quick clean-up which involves me throwing all the cheap, plastic, hideous toys into cheap, plastic, hideous crates ready to be upended at 6am in the next morning. We then try to have a conversation that goes sort of like:

I’m real tired.

Yeah. So tired.

Yeah I might just…

Yeah. I’m just gonna…

Go to bed.

Yeah. Bed.

I mean it’s almost 9.30…

Shit is it that late?

The only wooden toys we own are the ones I bought when I was pregnant with my first. Eddie picked them up once. And then put them back down again.

Yesterday, he played with those awful fucking Countdown dominoes for an hour and a half! And still – many, many months after I put all his Countdown cards on Trademe in a fit of rage – he asks me for his “faveybit cards dear mama? Wea they gone my mama?”

I don’t know son. They’re just gone.

I will never have my kids in bed with me. They’re meant to be in a cot.

*wheeze laugh that turns into sobbing*

I will never let my kid into the toilet while I’m going. It’s weird. I don’t understand these parents who let their kids watch them.

Aged 3 months: Peeing and holding a screaming baby because the decibel level is slightly lower when you’re holding them compared to when they’re on the floor. Internal monologue: I am so tired I think I’ve forgotten how to pee.

Aged one year: Little hands under the door. Heavy breathing/screaming/banging on bottom of the door. Internal monologue: I am so tired it feels so good to sit down! External monologue: Mama is coming honey! Hold on! Hold on my beautiful angel baby sweetheart! Hold on! Ok hol-wait…No tears I’ll be out sooon…Ok hol-wait…

Aged one and a half: Door suddenly opens to ecstatic toddler looking like a teenager that just found their parents’ booze stash. External monologue: HOW DID YOU OPEN THE DOOR?!?!

Aged two: Toddler playing at your feet. Occasionally staring into bowl. THERE IS NO OTHER MONOLOGUE BUT TODDLER MONOLOGUE: Why you pee dear mama? Why? Why you down like dat? Why you sit? Wea you bum is? Wea you toilet? You nee paper? Me see? Me see you bum? Mama? Wha choo doin? Wha choo doin now? (It’s still a monologue because you’re not even able to answer)

Aged almost three: External monologue: My darling! Mama is going to the toilet! Come and see! Everybody poos on the toilet because pooing on the toilet is so fun! Look! Do you want to poo on the toilet? Digger drivers poo! Elsa poos! Ballet dancers poo! Bob the Builder poos! Nanna poos! Teddy poos! Everybody poos! *slightly hysterical now* EVERYBODY POOS OK?!

My kids are going to listen to real music

No they’re not. They’re going to listen to Let it Go a thousand times a day and you’re going to deal with it.

I like to think most people aren’t as moronic as I was pre-kids. I really had lots of ideas that disappeared along with my waist and ability to sleep seven hours uninterrupted. But the biggest one for me was this one:

I won’t change

Having children has been the most profound and incredible experience of my life and it has changed every little and big bit of my being. Every bit.

Holding my baby for the first time shattered me into a million pieces, quickly reordered by his first breath into someone willing to lay my life down for him a million times over.

Seeing my husband curled around our babies, rocking them to sleep and humming gently, swelled my heart until the blood rushed into my cheeks. A warm glow I still feel every time he lovingly cuddles them back to slumber.

My son’s first surgery ripped me into shredded ribbons that I quickly threaded back together ready to be the whole person he needed when he came back to me.

The first time someone said something hurtful about my child – turned my spine to ice, set my bones to concrete, my blood to fire.

When we held our second baby in our arms – who knew it would be that same crushing feeling? That overwhelming almost painful joy?

The pride that makes me feel bigger and stronger than I am when I see our little boy show kindness and compassion for others. That wonder – How on Earth did we get so lucky?

And all the little times we reassess and change or decimate or ignore the silly little ideas we had on what kind of parents we thought we would be – almost every hour, always every day. The values stay the same – we want kind kids that feel safe and loved. But all the little ideas are blown away by an imaginary leaf blower, powered by a little boy who is almost three and knows a lot more than his mum a lot of the time.

Certainly knows more than his mum did before she became his mum.

***

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42 Comments on “Before I was his mum

  1. Freaking hilarious. My baby is 5 months old and already the pre-parent notions are going out the window…what will it be like when he is walking and talking? I thought I’d be all strict and tough and the result would raise an obedient child with great boundaries and respect… but like you say, as soon as this is an actual little person, not just an idea, it all changes and I’m glad of that too – cos I think I’ll still have a wee one with lots of respect, but for himself as well as others. Ah well you gotta laugh eh…

  2. Oh yes. ‘Though not so much on the picky eating personally because I was the picky eater from hell myself and I recall just how horrid vegies used to taste. I got over the picky eating in my late teens.

    However I was just going to tuck my children under my arms and keep on going with everything. That sort-of worked with just one very easy child, but it got completely blown away by twins. They were also comparatively easy children, but there were a lot of them.

    • Haha I can’t imagine Deborah! I’m exhausted by a toddler and baby let alone two babies and a third! I definitely thought the same though that a second would just be a “everything the same but plus one”. NOPE!

  3. My biggest one would probably be severely underestimating how bad sleep deprivation is. Today I couldn’t look at parallel lines without them moving in painful way. I just spelt couldn’t so badly autocorrect didn’t know what I meant.
    And now I have to go clean up the sugar water my son has squirted all over the floor that I need to make sure his sister doesn’t get constipation again from her antacids

    • Oh I hear you. It’s so hard aye? I don’t think anyone truly understands how hard the sleep deprivation is until they do it. Solidarity.

  4. OMG yes a thousand times over about the food. I certainly was NOT going to pander to a child’d individual tastes, they would learn to eat what we eat, I don’t have time for picky eaters….and then DS1 turned up. He sounds similar to your eldest. Some days he eats everything and then others its toast and sizzler sausages (if I’m lucky) – what’s with the fake pork like meat????

  5. Brilliant- mine was “when I have children they will join the family, and our lives won’t revolve around them! All these other parents just seem to become servants to the little people!”. Pah. I cringe when I cast my mind back to my fully-uninformed opinions.

    The one I LOVE laughing at when I hear it is “I won’t feed my children snacks in the car, have you seen how filthy the back seat gets when you let them have food in there?”. That is pure comedy gold.

    • Ha ha. My husband still has this crazy idea that kids shouldn’t eat in the car. He tells me regularly that I should really stop because the car is disgusting, and do I want to clean the car instead of him so that I can experience the dirtyness of a car that children snack in. I confess, I kinda look at him blankly thinking “what on earth is he going on about? Not give the kids food in the car? How on earth does he think I survive each day?”. Instead I say, “of course honey. I hear you honey”. Notice I don’t say “of course I won’t do it again”. And I always offer to clean the car if he ever wants me to. It’s time away from the kids – ha!

  6. This is the best thing I’ve read in AGES- thank you!!! I identify with every single point. You are amazing!

  7. I’m not a mum but I loved this post <3 I craaacked up throughout the whole thing. Keep up the awesome writing Emily x

  8. Yes, to all of those, plus ‘if you harm my baby I Will kill you. ‘ and now 20+ years later I still know where to find most stuff even if its buried under a pile of ***p, and i didnt put it there. Late night and early morning taxi lifts are the norm, I still have a picky eater, he will grow out of it eventually..I hope. Despite all my Intentions… all I can say is my kids/ young adults are reasonably, happy, well adjusted, kind, & get on ! so I guess it all sorts itself out in the end. Me/ I still worry, shout a bit less, and hide occasionally, but I think Ive done a good job. and you will too.
    Marai.

  9. This is fantastic. I was totally against screen time. I still am, even as our daughter watches “Wheels on the Bus” over and over and over again.

  10. I was just talking/laughing about this very subject to a friend yesterday. We both have toddlers now. Then I asked what beliefs we were each holding onto about our kid’s futures. I said I won’t let my kid have a cell phone or drive before he’s 18 years. We’ll see if I’m laughing about that one day!

  11. I’m sorry – that toilet scene. So vivid in my head because I’ve been there. Hilarious!!!

  12. Hahaha you kill me. I have though most of those things too, but it seems I was woefully idealistic.

  13. Brilliant! I thought all of this pre-baby. So many ideals. One more: my children will be nicely dressed and have clean faces. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

    And those damned dominoes… Jeepers.

  14. I am sitting on the couch with my almost two year old sprawled across my lap, asleep, because that’s that’s where she naps. Every. Day. I actually had to put my phone down because my stomach was moving too much from my stifled laughter heaves that she almost woke up. Gold, pure gold.

  15. Love it! Pretty much everything I thought, too… including most of the comments section! Oh, how things change 🙂
    I still have plenty of spare Countdown cards – happy to send them (free) to a little one who still asks for his “faveybit cards” – melts my heart 🙂

    • Don’t let him fool you! I’ll have a nervous breakdown if any more of those cards turn up in my lounge!!

  16. Oh my goodness, the potty training! So. True. When we started potty training our older daughter I said to my husband “This is why little kids are obsessed with toilet humor, because for a while there, *all* you talk about is the potty, using the potty, what we put in the potty, how everyone uses the potty and YOU SHOULD TOO. Oh and the screen time 100%: If I could I would kiss Curious George on his furry monkey lips for entertaining my daughter while I eat/pee/feed her sister/get anything done. Another excellent post!

  17. I can relate to all of this but more so the hurtful comments about my kiddo. Thank you for comedically putting the last 2 years of my life into words! Great Post!!! x

    • It’s something you wouldn’t think you’d have to deal with right? Your latest post about adults being bullies really says it all. x

  18. Emily, you are writing me through some crazy-hard times of extreme sleep deprivation with a four month old who feeds like a newborn and sleeps not at all, and a just-turned-two year old. Thank you! You have a gift.

  19. What a beautiful read. ..I feel like you’ve stepped into my life and written my exact thoughts and experiences….you’ve captured everything perfectly. Thanks from an mum and dad that feel the real life joy/struggle of raising 5 boys xx

  20. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love your posts! Another great read and so so true.

  21. Oh yes I was just laughing about how we talk about poo’s so casually now, I forget that it may be abit too much information for others yet nothing out of the ordinary for us lol.
    Certainly agree with everything you shared ????????

  22. OMG I love this!!! I was exactly the same, so judgy and figured that I would be different from my family and friends. Of course I ate my words once I had a baby that didn’t sleep, had reflux and hated breastfeeding. Lol. I laugh at my pre-mum self!!
    I also laugh at myself because really, I was missing the point. Having babies isn’t about controlling them and having them conform at all times, it’s about loving them. And all the love that they give back!!

  23. Oh my! That timeline of how there is no private time on the toilet anymore is just Perfect! I nearly peed my pants laughing so hard. Thanks for a great post! I’m glad I’m not pre-mama me anymore!!!

  24. I remember having grandios ideas about limiting screen time for my kid. Hah! Right now I mock that me.

    I am home sick with my sick five year old. After tears and temperatures this morning she seems much better. I meanwhile, feel like death. I ache everywhere, my chest burns every time I cough, and I am shivering despite being under a blanket.

    She has been watching TV for two hours and I don’t have the energy to care. Thank you TV for letting my daughter rest, and letting me be sick in peace. Thank you so much.