I was on the phone with my best friend the other day and she said something that really resonated with me:
“I was the best mom ever before I actually had kids.”
This statement, said in a light-hearted, jokey way, also had so much truth to it. I, too, was a perfect pre-kid mother – especially during my pregnancy. I had strong opinions on just about everything when it came to child-rearing. I stood on my soapbox, bulging belly jutting out proudly, and preached to anyone who would listen about the benefits of breastfeeding, limiting screen time, and a healthy sleep habits.
And then… I had a baby.
Here’s an amusing comparison of my views as a hopeful, first-time pregnant mom-to-be and a sleep deprived, stressed in all the best ways, mother of a “spirited” toddler.
Pregnant Me: Of course I’m going to breastfeed my baby. This genius baby will just latch right on and gulp down my miracle milk. It will be the most beautiful bonding experience; I’ll probably wean around his or her first birthday.
Me with a Preemie: So it turns out my 34-weeker really isn’t feeling my boobs. Even the NICU nurses have encouraged me to pump as he seems to prefer the bottle and it’s a great way to measure how much he’s getting. My dreams of breastfeeding have been replaced with the difficult decision to exclusively pump and bottle feed. I’ll do whatever it takes to make him healthy and strong. I’ll pump seven times a day for as long as my sanity allows. I feel like a total ass for judging anyone who decides not to breastfeed; turns out, it’s really not for everyone.
*I lasted 5 months and switched to formula.*
Pregnant Me: We will establish a strict bedtime routine within the first few weeks and follow the three B’s – bath, bottle, and bed. This no-fail plan also includes “dream feeding,” a soothing sound machine, and an expert swaddle. Baby will understand that the crib is the only place to sleep – no co-sleeping here!
My baby will sleep through the night by the time I have to go back to work (at 12 weeks). I know this because I’ve read every single baby sleep book I could get my hands on.
Me with a Teething 9-month-old: Dear God, why won’t this kid sleep?!! Will he ever sleep through the night? He’s been up every 45 minutes for the past two weeks and I’m considering checking myself into a mental institution.
Fine, fine, fine – you win, baby – come into bed with me and daddy. Get nice and comfy because you will continue to sleep with us every night until forever if it means we get more than three consecutive hours of sleep.
Is it possible to start a class action suit against the authors of those goddamned sleep books? I’ll have to ask my mom group on Facebook.
On screen time
Pregnant Me: Kids these days are so addicted to screens; I plan on reading actual books to my child. And doing puzzles. And coloring. There are so many wonderful, creative options.
I will never use an iPad or any other such device as a “babysitter.” Putting on a show is just lazy parenting.
Me with a Two-Year-Old in a Fancy Restaurant: “Put that fork down!” “Stop eating your crayons!” “No, the waiter doesn’t want another dinosaur sticker on his tie.” “This is the last time we take you out in public.”
<Three minutes later.>
“Here, take mommy’s phone and watch Paw Patrol.. It’s the one with the pink octopus.”
<Enjoys a hot meal for the first time in months.>
On an all-organic diet
Pregnant Me: I registered for a top-of-the-line baby food maker and I plan to use it. I’ll just pop my baby into my organic cotton baby wrap and make weekly trips to Whole Foods. I’ll whip up wholesome concoctions of kale, quinoa, and turmeric. YUM!
My child will have a sophisticated palate and say things at the dinner table like, “More avocado and tofu please!”
Me at the McDonald’s Drive-Thru: “I’ll take a chicken nuggets Happy Meal for my little guy but can you replace the fries with the mandarin oranges? Oh and a large order of fries for me.”
*I’m so glad I exchanged that baby food maker and organic baby wrap for diapers at BuyBuyBaby.*
Pregnant Me: Sure, I’m going to love being a mom but I’m also going to continue to do the things that make me who I am. I’m going to run half marathons, and read novels, and connect daily with my husband. I’m not going to be one of those moms who lives for her kids. That’s just not me.
Me with My Son: You are my whole universe. I live and breathe for you. Everything that I used to love has gotten even better since you came into this world, with some major tweaks – going for short runs because you’ll only nap in a moving stroller; reading silly rhyming books about trucks; getting to co-parent with the love of my life.