I was a brilliant parent before I had children. I had all the answers, not just on how to raise the kids, but on how I was going to behave, too. I was adorable. Or, perhaps, nailbitingly annoying. So now…twelve years and four kids later, I’ve broken them all. Sorry, Young Me. You should have known.
Rule 1: I will not talk baby talk. I want my children to grow up to be literate, intelligent adults who speak properly. To achieve this goal, I will speak rationally, clearly, and in actual words that they may learn and imitate.
Broken: 5 minutes after birth, when I got my first good look at wittle, eensy baby feet. With toes that looked like little peas. That make you want to EAT THEM, you little bugaboo-ba-noo-noo. (As I do not actually intend to eat anyone’s feet, or nose, or cheeks, this was the first of many irrational phrases I uttered to my four babies.)
Rule 2: I will not force my younger children to wear hand-me-downs. Each child is important and loved. They each deserve their own identity and their own clothing and possessions to make them feel so.
Broken: Right after Baby #2. Because I didn’t realize how many clothes kids need. They wear some of them for five minutes before getting them dirty and needing more. How does this happen with people who can’t even walk?? And you know what else I realized? 4-month-olds aren’t fashion conscious. They care if something is pinchy or tight or pokey but they don’t care if you put them in their brother’s pjs. I once spent an entire day in the mountains explaining to everyone that the toddler running around in a bright pink snowsuit was a boy. He’s now 11 and has no idea that ever happened.
Rule 3: I will not wear yoga pants in public, unless actually practicing yoga.
Broken: 11 years after giving birth. So actually, I did pretty good. Mostly because pajama pants and yoga pants are two totally different things.
Rule 4: I will not say “because I said so.” As a parent of children who, as stated above, were to become literate, intelligent adults, I will present rational explanations for each course of action. The kids will honor my willingness to treat them with respect and will accept my well-reasoned arguments.
Broken: Four years after birth. Because apparently, children don’t stop with a well-reasoned explanation. They see it as an invitation to give you their own well-reasoned counter-argument. And when you respond to that, they find another one. And pretty soon, negotiations over mac and cheese versus peanut butter and jelly have taken on the feel of a Middle East Peace Treaty, with sides drawn and appointed diplomats and more than a little crying and me finishing with, “It’s 1:30pm. We’re having sandwiches for lunch and then a nap because I said so!!!” and collapsing on a chair. And this is before adolescence, aka the “I Like to Argue, Arguing is My Favorite” phase.
Rule 5: I will shower every day. Because I’m a human and a woman and even though I’m covered with spit-up and other Things That Must Not Be Named, once a day for at least a full minute, I will be squeaky clean.
Broken: The first time I got sick, and realized that no one gives sick days for parenthood. Little people still expect to be fed, and entertained, and occasionally look at you sympathetically for 20 seconds before asking you very nicely to move the fridge so they can retrieve the Lego that fell behind it. It all saps your will to shower, or move, really.