Saturday, May 14, 2011

Before & After

I while back I bought "I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids".  I loved the title.  Unfortunately I hated the book.  Just a couple of chapters in I was depressed.  I remember thinking that if this is what I had to look forward to, I might as well give up.  I expected something else.  What I was looking for was more along the lines of what I've discovered through the experience of motherhood.  I learned humility and learned that it is easy to judge, but oh so hard to live up to those standards.

For example:
Before I was a mother I thought any woman who didn't exclusively breastfeed was selfish or lazy.  After My sons were born and I struggled with low milk supply and had to supplement with formula despite my strident pro-breastfeeding stance, I realized that it isn't that simple.  Sometimes despite our desires, our bodies, our jobs or other factors may make it impossible and there is no way to know what is happening behind the scenes for that mom you see giving her newborn a bottle.

Before I was a mother I thought I would never let my children be loud and disruptive in public, no matter what the setting.  After having kids, I realized that children have minds of their own and if you ever plan on being out in pubic with them, you have to accept that at some point they are going to misbehave spectacularly.  How you react to it is up to you, but I no longer judge the mom carrying her tantruming toddler out of the grocery store abandoning a full cart of groceries in the aisle as she fights back her own tears.  Yeah, I've been her.

Before I was mother I used to think that moms who dressed their kids in matching or identical outfits were being cruel or overly cutsie.  After having kids, I now understand that often the safest choice is to give them matching everything.  It limits the bickering.  It really becomes a matter of maternal survival. I guess I should have known this based on my own childhood where I tried to look just like my sister whenever possible.  It even got to the point where my mom took my sister out to buy her Christmas dress on a solo shopping trip and told me I could not see what she bought until I had picked my own dress.  Kathleen and I snuck into the closet so I could see her choice and went to the store and picked the exact same dress in a different color.  What can I say, kids are strange.

Before I was a mother I used to believe that it was only controlling parents who slipped into the "Because I'm your mother, that's why" trap.  After having kids I now understand that sometimes that is the only reason they'll understand and that really, you don't always need to explain, you just need compliance.  I've learned that I can give them the best reason in the world "Don't do that, you could get badly hurt"  and they'll come back with "But I didn't!"  and they really think that is a valid counterpoint.  They are not fully logical beings yet, and while I try to give them an explanation whenever I can, sometimes I just don't have the time and don't want to hear their counter argument.

Before I was a mother I was horrified that any mother would let their child out of the house with dirty clothes or a runny nose.  After having kids I marvel that any mother can keep their child free of goo for more than 5 minutes.  I swear if I don't keep them under a tarp my kids attract all kinds of food and dirt. In fact, my children seem to believe their shirts and pants serve dual functions as both clothing and napkins.

See, before I was a mother, I was a hideously judgmental bitch.  I thought I knew it all.  Now that I've been in the trenches, I know the truth.  It is a hard job.  Yes it has some pretty awesome benefits, but the work never stops.  I also know that there are still way too many sets of judging eyes watching me operating under my newly lowered standards for parenting perfection.  But I have a little secret.  I don't give a shit what they think, I'm doing it right.  And guess what, you probably are too.


geekymummy said...

oh how true. As you know I have a boy who likes to dress like his sister. Being the controlling bitch I am I rarely let him go out like this in public though, probably setting him up for a life as one of those men who secretly wears his wife's undies when she is out.

followthatdog said...

I don't think that's being a controlling bitch. If you were a controlling bitch you'd never let him do it in the first place. Rules and limits are ok. As are the men who secretly wear their wives' undies because they really aren't hurting anyone, right?

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