What seems like eons ago, I wrote this adorable list of all of things we were always/never going to do as parents. And I promised I would come back and update it as all of these precious ideals got well and thoroughly trampled by this thing called real life, but I never did. Until my sister-in-law reminded me about it yesterday and I thought to myself, you know what? I have been feeling really great about my parenting abilities lately – let’s take a stick and beat that smug self-satisfaction right out!
So here is that list, copy and pasted from the original. Items which have been crossed off are lofty ideals that have now bitten the dust:
Things We Will Never/Always Do:
(With Additional Ridiculous Smug Justifications Provided Where Necessary)
- We will never give Olive a pacifier. Babies don’t need pieces of plastic shoved in their mouths! They need their mamas!
- We will never put her in a swing. Why would I let a machine rock her, when she could be in our loving arms?
- We will never let her sleep in the bed with us. It’s unsafe- what if I smother her?! Plus I could never get a good night’s sleep with her beside me.
- We will always buy her clothing secondhand. There’s so much gently used children’s clothing to be had for 1/10th of the price, why would you ever buy new? (to be fair, probably 90% of her wardrobe is secondhand, but I have definitely succumbed to a few irresistible new items here and there.)
We will always cloth diaper.Unless we are going to visit nana at her floating house where there’s no washer and dryer.And except for the week-long stint during a dark time for sleeping when I experimented to see if disposables at night would keep her sleeping longer (they did. And then they didn’t, so back to cloth.)And except for the 3 days before we moved because the diapers had to be packed and loaded into the moving van.Aaaand also except for when we resorted to using one what seemed like every other day for like a month after we moved because I all of a sudden couldn’t keep up with diaper laundry and couldn’t understand why and kept beating myself up over it (get it together, Madeleine!).
Until, that is, I found three diapers forgotten at the bottom of our swimming bag and, yeah- oops!But before I found those three life-saving, routine-rescuing diapers however, disposables saved my (Olive’s) butt many a time. Even though we chose cloth because I thought it the more environmentally-friendly choice, I was very grateful for the existence of disposables because it meant I didn’t have to MacGyver one out of a tea towel and some hair elastics.
Disposable diapers are not evil, and you (and I) are not evil if we use them every single day, every so often, or once in a blue moon when we’re desperate. They’re just diapers. The fact that they create more trash and pollution is simply that: a fact. But using them doesn’t mean you’re evil, or a bad mom, it probably just means you’re busy. Or don’t own a washer and dryer. Or don’t want to wash poop. You know, whichever.
Judging people’s character based on what their baby poops into is the real evil here, folks.
- We will never let her cry herself to sleep. (We still haven’t done this one, Olive is tenacious, man. It would take HOURS. Ain’t nobody got time for that.)
We will always make our own baby food from scratch.We bought several of those little food pouches for plane rides, and even a few times grocery shopping when she was little and getting ragey from seeing all of the food she wasn’t allowed eating (now she gets an apple if we find ourselves in the same situation. Thanks, teeth!) We will always serve her free-range, organic meat.Adam has been feeding her bites of his turkey sticks, which are definitely not from “happy” animals, but other than that I think this one still stands
- We will never give her juice. Still standing. I think the fact that I don’t really drink it helps, because she doesn’t see it or ask for it.
We will never let her watch TV.Olive used to watch cartoons with Grampa while I was at work, my mom has watched The Little Mermaid with her, and I think she has snuggled up to Adam several times while he was watching on of his (probably immensely violent) shows.She uh…also may have developed a bit of a narcissistic streak and asks to watch videos of “Ow-iff” on my phone. A lot. And sometimes I let her. So the “never” has definitely been slowly worn down into an “Okay fiiiiine fine whatever.”And she’s alive! Imagine that! She will never own or wear branded stuff.My mom found her some adorable secondhand Hunter wellies and she quickly became so obsessed with them that tantrums because I wouldn’t let her wear them inside/in the bath/to bed were almost a daily occurrence for a while there. I think that may be it, though.Brand integrity, intact! (Mostly!) We will always encourage kids to do age-appropriate chores.This one was an interesting one to catch myself failing at, and it was a perfect example of ideal life vs. real life. I have long said that you should get kids involved in chores during the toddler years when they actually want to help (are desperate to help!) and then it won’t be such a struggle when you want them to help a few years later.I feel like typically we don’t let them help with things because seriously have you ever seen a toddler? They are horrible little creatures! Poor hand eye coordination, unpredictable fits of rage and/or hysteria, plus truly zero understanding of concepts like “dirt” and “spilling” and “sharp knives”.Having a toddler help you basically ensures that you will get a task done four times more slowly, and 80% worse than if you simply did it yourself.
So for the last month or so, I’ve been doing it myself. My mom always used to do dishes with Olive standing on a chair next to her “helping” (read: flooding the place and breaking shit.) Thus, every time Olive saw me filling up the sink she’d cry “Bubbles! Bubbles!” and I would distract her or put her off, I’d ask Adam to go give her a bath.
Then I realized that I am a horrible person, and just the type of horrible person I used to have ideas about. So she helps me with the dishes now. And it does indeed take four times as long and gets done 80% worse and the floor gets a good mopping every night.But she’s helping. It makes her so happy to help, and fostering that spirit- being truly happy to help someone, and offering help without being asked – is far more important than orderly dish-doing or not having to swab the decks after the post-dinner bubble flood. And hopefully by including her now, she will be just as eager to help when she’s five, ten, and fifteen (ha!)
So. There’s only two ideals still standing! Ohhhh how far we fall.
The point of this post, is I’m not perfect. I’m an 80% kind of person. If I can do anything 80% of the time, I’m happy, and I try not to be too hard on myself for the rest.
80% of the time I try to eat well, be patient, live an eco-friendly life, and generally get as close as I can to this arbitrary ideal that I’ve sketched out for myself.
The other 20%? Well that’s made up of the occasional disposable diaper, overdoses of caffeine and licorice allsorts, days where I spend way too much time on my phone trying to escape my child, and just generally doing everything that I stand against, really.
Yin and yang, y’all. Yin and yang.
I think we need to do this more. I think it’s really good for the soul to admit that our always and nevers are really more like usuallys and sometimes. No one is perfect, but especially in this era of Instagram and Facebook, where you can choose one perfect millisecond of your day to filter and present to the world as always, it’s even more important to admit it.
I showed you mine. Care to share yours? What did you always think you would never do, pre-kids? I know there are some doozies out there!