Here's the thing, before people have kids there are many occasions where they'll observe people who have children and think "When I have kids I will never ______" Then you go and get yourself some of those cherubic, little angels and if you're like me, you have about 8 million "Oohhh, Now I Get It Moments" – they're like Oprah's "Aha" moments but without the free car.
Here are just a few of the little judgement gems that I passed with Gweneth Paltrow smugness... until I had children. I was an idiot but clearly the Gods were listening.
"My kids will never sleep with me."
I love my sleep and therefore, any child of mine would be kissed on the head at 7:00 pm, would be put in their crib and would stay there until the morning. Except what I didn't realise is that it's really hard for me to sleep through bloodcurdling screaming and that I'd have a kid who thinks Dr. Ferber can go suck it. In a desperate measure, I tossed him into bed with us one night and we've all had a good night's sleep ever since. I don't tell many people about it because it's the grand daddy of all my "I'll Nevers" unless, of course, you bring it up then I'm all over it like the hypocritical hippy I am.
"My kids will eat what they are fed."
Don't like dinner? Well, I guess you're not eating. Then I walk away and think about how I'm already worried about his calcium intake and if he's eating enough protien. If he goes to bed hungry then he'll no doubt perish in his sleep all because I wouldn't let him have cereal at dinner. Joan Crawford, Dina Lohan, me. Here's your cereal.
"I'll never ignore my kids like that."
Why do you even have children if you don't want to be around them?! How hard is it to accommodate your child if the sweet little petal is asking you to read Goodnight Moon? Pretty hard if it's the 4,753rd time you've read it that day and if you ever have a stroke it will, no doubt, be the only information you'll retain. Sometimes I just want half-a-stinking-second to think. I love my children but for the love of God, let me pee alone – I can't remember where I've heard that brilliance before.
"Why don't you just take your kids to the park, it's so easy?"
You know, you just sit there while they have fun. Oh, wait you want to go on the swing? No more swing now? Now the slide? Mommy can't fit up there but hold on tight....whoa...no, come down now!! That's too high!! Okay, yes, let's play in the sand. No, that's not your truck that's the little boy's truck. Give it back, please. No hitting!! Hey, do you want a cookie? The cookies are at home. Okay, let's go home and get a cookie. Bye park! Kiss my ass until I've had another Goodnight Moon stroke and forgotten how horrible you are.
"Why would you take your kids swimming, it's so hard?"
I mean, it takes about 3 hours to get ready for 10 minutes of fun. Except I didn't think of what else I would do to occupy a small child for 3 hours if I wasn't getting ready for swimming. Plus, no doubt some mom somewhere, sometime probably told me that children that don't learn how to swim by 6 months have an 80% chance of drowning in an inch of water and grow up to be illiterate serial killers – she must have read it in an article somewhere.
"Kids shouldn't eat crap."
How hard is it to prepare wholesome, organic, homemade meals and snacks all the time? I once threw an open bag of cheesies down the basement stairs to stop my kids from fighting like drunk white girls while I was on a really important phone call. They swarmed it like racoons and ate all the trans fat goodness silently off the floor. I stand by my actions and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
"Kids shouldn't watch too much tv."
Oh, but what's that? Children stand behind you like a 20lb footstool when you're carrying pots of boiling water, try to throw things down the toilet while you're cleaning it or take their diaper off and pee down the air vents while you're taking a shower?! Oh, too bad there isn't a magical box that played friendly pictures and sounds to distract them for a few mintues while you went poo. Wait. What?
If I have pants on when I leave the house I consider my appearance to be completely appropriate and should therefore, not be judged. I wore glasses with one arm missing for a year-and-a-half because it broke off and I couldn't find time to fix it. I haven't been to the dentist since my second son was born and he just turned two. I finally made an appointment because I'm scared I'm going to have teeth like a 14-year old beagle if I don't smarten up.
"How hard is it to keep your cool?"
Pretty hard sometimes. I find that small children have given me a snapping threshold that would make Gordon Ramsay say "Whoa, cool it lady." Inanimate objects seem to be the main focus of my wrath because they won't be taken away from me if I really start spitting cherries (best. phrase. ever.) Instead, I find myself hulking the tabs off the effing nappy because they won't peel up, drop kicking a basket of socks across the room because I can't find a pair that matches or swearing that if I ever find the murther furking jackhole that put 14 previews on every kid DVD, I will chant "Kali Ma" as I plunge my bare fist into their chest and pull out their still-beating heart. Breeeeeeeathe.
"I would never let my kids become my whole life."
I used to go over to my "previously cool" friend's place and think how sad it was that her house was overrun with sippy cups, Polly Pocket shoes and Dora the Explorer crap. Now I lay in my hippy bed reading Goodnight Moon until my right eye twitches and they fall asleep. Then I look at their perfect, little faces and wonder how I ever lived without them.
If I could go back in time, I'd tell that childless woman that it's easy for her to make all these grand proclamations and impose rules on an imaginary child where she hasn't factored in love, fear or sleep deprivation. Then I'd tell her stop worrying about what she will and won't do when she becomes a mother and to go take a long look at her fantastic bum in the mirror because it will soon disappear along with the all misconceptions she has about motherhood.
This article was originally published on Amy's blog here and has been republished with full permission.
Amy Morrison was a creative director at an ad agency but decided to quit and go freelance as an art director/graphic designer in 2004. You can and should follow her blog here
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