Finding permission to be the parent I am

family shot copyMotherhood is a wild ride. Expectations get thrown out the window, uncharted territory is the most predictable constant, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, everything changes again. It’s also an amazing opportunity to continually redefine your approach, experience trial and error, and simultaneously experience overwhelming love, happiness, frustration and doubt. No two days look the same.

My husband and I often joke about all the ways we were better parents before we had kids and all the things we swore we’d never do as parents. News flash: most of those things are staples in our parenting approach, including but not limited to:

THEN: Our kids will never order off the kid’s menu because they will eat anything. We’ll just order them an adult portion of salmon, rice and veggies and have them share it. (Because, really, they’ll eat anything!)
NOW: Bring on the $5 deal with full meal and drink included!

THEN: Our kids will not survive on a steady diet of chicken nuggets and grilled cheese for dinner. They’ll have refined palates. (See above.)
NOW: “Girls, do you want chicken nuggets or grilled cheese for dinner?”

THEN: Our kids won’t watch TV or use electronics for more than a few minutes each day.
NOW: Peppa Pig is our cheapest babysitter while we make dinner and get laundry done. And forgetting to bring the iPad on a long car drive is the equivalent to forgetting to bring the spare tire when you know your tire is low.

THEN: We won’t be late to meet other people just because we have young kids.
NOW: We’re pretty sure our friends put in buffer time between when we are told to arrive and when they actually expect us.

All this aside, there are also things I never realized about being a parent that have come naturally to me, including but not limited to:

  • Cleaning up some pretty nasty bodily functions – whether it’s pee in the car seat, spit up down my blouse or poop all over my kid’s bed (and pajamas, hands and face), my threshold for gross stuff has significantly increased. The one place I draw the line is vomit – just ask my husband. That’s his domain.
  • Discovering an entirely new level of patience. I always thought of myself as a patient person, but there’s nothing like a toddler in her “no” phase to really test those limits. Until she hits the “why?” phase…
  • Saying beyond ridiculous statements that now seem totally normal. “Take your hands out of your pants at the dinner table” is just the tip of the iceberg of statements I never imagined I’d say and are now second nature.
  • Loving truly unconditionally. The love I feel for my kids is so boundless, so definitive and so deep that I sometimes feel overwhelmed by such a true and intense emotion… In the best possible way.

Like I said, it really is a wild ride. But one I’m so grateful to be on.

What are ways your expectations changed after becoming a parent?

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