A friend of mine suggested I talk about my parenting expectations before children, and my reality now that I’m actually a mom. This topic always reminds me of my sister-in-law, who is very wise in the ways of momhood, having 3 kids herself. She used to listen patiently while I shot my mouth off about the plans I had for my unborn children (“I won’t let them watch TV! I’m going to teach them to be rocket scientists by the age of 4!”), before she would knowingly laugh and say “Wait until you have kids.” She kept the eye rolling to herself, God bless her, but her message was clear: “You’re deluded.”
And I was. Oh man, was I deluded.
Here are a few of the things I had planned before I became a parent, and what I actually do now that I have kids:
Before Children: My kids will not watch TV.
Now: Uhhh… yeah, right. I agree that television isn’t the BEST form of entertainment for children (it’s bad for their developing sight, it probably limits their imagination, it can turn them into monsters who shoot lasers out of their eyes, etc. etc.), BUT it’s the best way I know to get a few seconds to myself.
I went from “let’s hide/get rid of our television!” to keeping the boob tube on pretty much all day and all night. It started when Butterbean was a newborn. I would watch my own shows while I was home alone with a baby who did absolutely nothing (seriously, newborns do nothing but eat, poop, cry, and sleep), and morphed into me putting kids shows on for background noise, just because. Now my television is permanently tuned into Treehouse. The girls don’t always watch it, but it’s on. And if I need to get something done, like make dinner or something, you’d better believe I’m queueing up Dora OnDemand.
Butterbean even has a computer in her room that she watches TV (or “TV-vision”) shows on before she goes to sleep. THAT’s how far I’ve backslid. Kids shows are on at my house, LITERALLY, 24/7.
Before Children: My kids will never own character-branded toys, clothing or accessories.
Now: I still steer away from branded clothing if I can help it (it’s harder now because the Bean requests certain items when we’re out shopping for her), BUT Sprout has a Winnie the Pooh snowsuit, Butterbean has a Hello Kitty coat, Dora the Explorer backpack, purse and suitcase, Diego rubber boots, a whole host of toys featuring her favourite television characters, and a thousand other branded items.
It’s hard to stay away from that stuff – especially when you watch as much television as we do!
Before Children: My kids won’t buy into the Disney Princess franchise.
Now: I honestly thought I was going to have cool children who wouldn’t enjoy the whole princess thing. Afterall, princesses bore the crap out of me, and my kids will be exactly like me, right? Right?!
Wrong. While Disney films don’t hold the Bean’s attention for very long (except for that damn Tinkerbelle Secret of the Wings movie), she loves the princesses. She’s never even seen Cinderella, but she loves her. Do you know what she did the last time we were at the Disney Store (I even take her to the Disney store now! I’m a total hypocrite)? She took a “princess lesson” (read: took part in a thinly veiled advertisement/mass brainwashing for Sophia the First), while I smiled on like a pageant mom. And then I bought her an overpriced poofy dress because she’s been asking to be a princess for halloween for MONTHS. She literally sleeps in that dress, guys. My worst nightmare has come true and, worse (!), I kind of think it’s cute.
The reality of having kids is this: sometimes they suck, and sometimes you’re willing to compromise your ideals to a) get a little peace and quiet, and b) make them happy.