Originally published at Sweetspot.ca
Before I actually became a mother, I had many preconceived notions about motherhood. I thought that many moms were just lazy or ill-informed, and that I was somehow clever enough to break this perceived cycle of bad parenting. I was going to break new ground.
It didn't take long to learn that all those ideals I had were going out my low-e argon windows. Here's a list of things I swore I'd never do as a new mom: (We can laugh at me together.)
Eat my dinner cold. After organizing a particularly busy family lunch, my cousin Ellen (mother of four) looked at a newly pregnant me and said, "Get used to eating your dinner cold." I smiled and nodded, frightened by the statement. Later my best friend and I laughed it off. "She doesn't know what she's talking about," Liz pshawed. "We're more together than that. You'll put the baby's food in front of him and then you'll serve yourself." What I didn't know then was the 42 times I'd have to get up from the table to get another food item because of [insert kid's daily food issue here].
Wipe my child's face with spit. Oh how I hated my parents' freshly licked fingers making a beeline for my cheek. I swore to high heaven that I would never do this to my own child. And I could have stuck to it -- if I could remember to bring wipes every time we go somewhere.
Co-sleep. I decided early into my pregnancy that my baby would sleep in his crib, always. And I'd have him on a schedule and he'd sleep through the night early on, because hey -- there's got to be a Type A pass for these situations, right? What do you mean I can't control this?
Put my kids in disposable diapers. "I'm going to get a cloth diaper service," I boldly told my friend L, a mom to two. She laughed hysterically. "Sure," she said sarcastically, "You go ahead and try that. Let me know how that works out for you. Hahahahaha!" I was defiant. "I will," I retorted. And then I met those early poops. The ones that laugh in the face of cloth. The ones that seep through and reach up to the neck. And well... at least Toronto recycles its disposables, right?
Talk about poo. I wasn't going to spend all day talking about diapers and sleeping habits. I was going to talk about feminist literature and all the great movies I got out to see that week. I didn't have other mom friends at first, so who would even be engaging me in poo talk? Then, during a visit with our hyper-intelligent, journalist friends, (incidentally the new parents of twins) we all exploded (pardon the phrase). "Can you believe the size?" "Oh just wait 'till he starts eating meat!" It was as if we'd been backed up in poo talk. The floodgates had been opened. Oh the relief! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)
Feed my kids fast-food. I was a socially-conscious downtown hipster. Nary a pesticide would enter my son's mouth if I could help it. He would only drink goat's milk like my ancestors did. I would never feed him take-out or frozen food. Um, yeah, right. As we used to say in high school, "And then you woke up." Oh I try to cook from scratch, but some nights the six o'clock scramble is a challenge. And I am so tired. Heck, I wasn't even breastfed and I turned out OK...
Let myself go. I wasn't going to spend my days in sweats and greasy ponytails, wearing the same sweater every day. I was going to be a hot mama. I would take an hour to look fabulous each morning. And read newspapers. And iron my freshly washed pants. I sure as hell wasn't going to walk around with someone else's food on my sweater! Heh...
The bottom line: once I let go of these ideals and stopped trying to be what I thought was the perfect mother, I could relax enough to enjoy my kids and be the mother I was meant to be. Being a SweetMama isn't about being June Cleaver, it's about living your best life and taking your kids along for the ride.