I think we when we become parents, there are a lot of lessons we have to just learn on our own. Not that a 'helpful' friend, parent (stranger... passer-by) hadn't mentioned these things to us along the way. But the only way to truly learn and embrace new and sometimes hard-to-swallow ideas, is to live them. This goes double for parenting. Before having Connor, there was an endless list (ok, mental list) of things I was never going to do... or things that I was hell-bent on doing. Funny how when you're tired, sleep deprived, yearning for adult social interaction, and pretty much spent emotionally, psychologically, and physically, what we might or might not do as parents ... especially in the beginning.
Lately, these thing have been standing out more and more. Things that I thought were interesting or funny, contradictory or affirming to what I *thought* were my beliefs about parenting, or otherwise interesting observations I've made as I round out my first full year of staying-at-home with two.
1.) Poop: The idea of changing poopy diapers or wiping a butt is something that some parents really struggle with... especially in the beginning. Lesson Learned: It's ALWAYS better out than in. You think a poopy diaper is bad? Wait till you hear what you have to do if the baby CAN'T get it out. Believe me, you want at least one or two per day... or it gets really ugly...er...
2.) Need a Sitter? Call Dora!: I honestly thought I would let my kids watch a small amount of TV and that's it. I'm not one of those who swore I wasn't going to let my kids know a TV existed until they are teenagers. However, I did not realize Baby Einstein videos would be the only thing to put my boys into a trance-like when colicky or over-tired. And I didn't realize Connor's first best-friend would be Diego, and his first girlfriend would be Dora. Lesson Learned: Do what works. If Dora, Diego, Sesame Street, Baby Einstein, etc... gets you a moment's peace, it's TOTALLY worth it. And for those of your friends who don't let their kids watch TV.... I bet they aren't home with them all day... and if they are, well, good for them... but I bet they don't shower!
3.) The Great Boob Debate: Oh boy did I ever plan on nursing each boy for six months. Let's see ... I made it about 3 months with Connor and 4 with Logan. Some people are willing to give up every waking (and non-waking) second to their child - living like they are pregnant for an additional 12 months or more after birth. To those people, I say "Way to go!" Me, I give my kids ALL of me for about 12 hours during the day. After that, I'm going to have a couple glasses of wine, have my husband give the baby a bottle before bed, and get 8 hours of consecutive sleep. Lesson Learned: You have to do what works for your own sanity and family. My kids are not always sick, they are perfectly chubby, hitting all their milestones, smart, handsome, and do not have 2 heads. Formula is not the evil twin of breast milk. Seriously. Relax. It's fine.
4.) Doesn't He Look Adorable: I love to shop. And having kids is just one more category of shopping bliss I get to dabble in! Clothing being the #1 for me. And because I LOVE to shop and get a deal, my focus has always been high-quality clothing for the kiddos - especially Connor, now that I know we'll be able to hand it down to Logan. Now, I'm not saying we don't have undershirts and underwear, and other cute items from Target, but the majority of the boys' clothing is from nicer retailers - I wait for an extra % off sale items and pounce - usually on things for next season. The boys pull off the madras-shorts-with-polo shirt look very nicely. Lesson Learned: Present your child as a 'pretty package' when going out in public. It's not fair, but pretty and nicely dressed people get paid more at their job, date better looking people, live longer, etc... and I feel it's helpful to them (and us) to give the boys this advantage early. We've found that society extends a lot more patience and understanding to a fussy child in restaurant dressed nicely rather than a diaper and ratty onsie.
5.) Oh, Your Fancy, Huh?: I read recipes and home -decorating ideas, and ways to make your holidays sparkle, and other BS articles in magazines all the time. It makes me feel a little guilty that the fanciest dinner I make for the fam comes off the grill. Recently in one of these mags, I saw how you could make a super-cute 4th of July themed picnic table with little citronella candles, tablecloth, etc... that would be great for dinner and then all the way through fireworks activities! I brought the supplies to re-create this look on our weekend trip to the lake. Let's just say, the neighbors ended up having to run over with a fire extinguisher. The entire table was engulfed in flames with the tail of the table cloth was blown onto the candle's flame by the wind. Oops. So much for a cute themed table. That's what I get for trying too hard. Lesson Learned: (and actually there were a few lessons learned here, but I'm going to stick to the topic) We are all good at some things and struggle with others. I can grill corn to sweet perfection, create gorgeous chocolate covered strawberries with white chocolate drizzle, create silk flower pins that are nearly identical to ones selling for $50 in stores, and I can color-coordinate and organize a closet till the cows come home (and actually enjoy it). But I'm not Martha Stewart - and not many of us are. Trying too hard generally leads to major frustration, which doesn't make for a happy family! So stick to what you're good at, and leave life-sized homemade gingerbread houses with working electricity and running water to Martha.
6.) Nicknames Make Me Feel Better: The first cute baby nicknames I became aware of were 'Buggy' and 'Monkey' - from watching one of the countless Tori Spelling reality shows. I never understood why you would call your kid something other than the name you just got the privilege of choosing for them! Turns out, it's not really a choice. I've found that the term Monkey has stuck with Connor because he used to climb on things so much - I started calling him that and never really stopped, though I also use his actual name, Buddy, etc... as well. With Logan, being the lug that he is, we started calling him Turkey or Bubba. There are also many times throughout my dad when I call them 'Little Monsters', 'Stinker Butt', or something of the like. Lesson Learned: Sometimes those cute little names are so mommy and daddy don't use BAD names. When I catch Logan doing something naughty, jokingly calling him a 'Little Monster' as I re-direct him makes me feel better... it just does.
7.) Anything in Yellow Packaging: Gerber, this one's for you. My kids' faces literally light-up when we stroll through the 'snack' section in the baby aisle at Target. If it comes in a bright yellow package, we love it. Lesson Learned: Learn your child's currency and then STOCK UP! We don't leave home without a stash of rice rusks, juicy treats, crunchies, and puffs. If you aren't sure what these things are, you don't have a one-year-old!
8.) 1, 2, 3... We have ALL heard the mother at the pool, mall, strore, etc... with the 1.... 2.... 2 and a half.... threat. I used to think, 'Ugh - so annoying!" Lesson Learned: I'm not sure if somehow this is part of the new preschool curriculum, but there is something completely frightening to a toddler about this phrase. Because 9 times out of ten, it does get them at least moving in the right direction! And while I still find it annoying, believe me there are much louder and worse things I could be saying after trying to get my kid out of the baby pool for the last 10 minutes.
9.) Putting it on Display: I'm a bit OCD, and for all the things I cannot change in my life, I like to keep those things I *can* change as streamlined as possible. Yes, there is a lot of clutter in our house, but there are some sacred areas I felt like I could always keep as mine. The laundry room was no problem.... I always said I could hide anything I wanted in there because the rest of the family doesn't even know it exists. Not sure how their underwear gets clean... must be magic! The other area is my kitchen. As a singleton, cluttered displays on a refrigerator were almost offensive.... why take that beautiful, blank, clean space and crap it up. Lesson Learned: Everything my sons create happens to be a work of unabated masterpiece. Genius, if I may be so bold. ;) And yours will be too!
10.) Do Not Disturb: I know I'm not the only stay-at-home mom who had visions of a clean, organized home, once they were able to quit their job and be home with the kiddos. I honestly thought I would perfectly fold laundry, cook nice meals every night, keep up-to-date on scrapbooking, and have the storage area in the basement looking like a dream. HA! Lesson Learned: ANYTIME I get during the day, without being pestered to 'watch me', feeding or washing bottles, making mac-n-cheese and apple juice sippys, changing diapers, watching and talking about the Cars movie, etc... is a precious moment. Dont' get me wrong, I love doing those things for my children. But forgive me for not wanting to immediately jump up and finish the laundry, dishes, vacuuming, cleaning, etc... as soon as I manage to get them both down for a nap at the same time! So there is no surprise that our house reflects this attitude. It's pretty bad. My biggest fear is an unexpected visitor.... unless it's someone who wants to come clean and organize my house, of course!
Undoubtedly, there will be additional lessons learned in the coming years.... ahh, I can't wait for that!! :)
Thanks for stopping by!