Being a perfect parent is easy until you actually become a parent. You know exactly what should be done, and are confident about handling any situation – until it’s your toddler inexplicably throwing the mother of all tantrums in the middle of the grocery store aisle. Suddenly, you’re reeeeeally sorry about all the judgmental comments you ever made pre-kids, all the naïve statements of, “My child will never (fill in the blank).” Because now you realize that yes, your child will do exactly that. And more. Oops.
It’s a long (and painful!) fall from a high horse, but it happens to almost all of us when we become parents. Reality steps in to challenge our best-laid plans, and our actual parenting sometimes ends up looking vastly different from the Path to Parental Perfection we thought we’d be taking. For example …
1. Screen time
Before kids: Screen time? Only the bare-minimum, pediatrician-and-child-
After kids: Only when we want to get something done: like breakfast, lunch, dinner, laundry, work, cleaning, or a solo trip to the bathroom. Or when we’re in a waiting room, or on a car trip, or in line. Or when we absolutely cannot deal with any more chattering/singing/whining. Or …
2. Food choices
Before kids: Our special snowflakes are going to eat only one-hundred percent wholesome, totally natural foods. No processed garbage will ever pass their lips! We’ll make our own baby food from fruits and veggies lovingly plucked from our own organic garden! Their lunches will be nutritionally balanced and artfully arranged in adorable bento boxes! They’ll be too full of the good stuff to care about sweets!
After kids: Okay, so they picked the lettuce and tomato off their burger … but pickles totally count as a veggie. And hey, they had mashed potatoes for dinner last night before diving into that huge hunk of cake.
Before kids: Our little lambs are going to have perfect table manners, and they’ll never ever forget to say please and thank you. When we go to the store, they will ride nicely in the cart and never beg or whine for anything. They won’t climb all over the furniture or stand up in their seat during mealtime or burp without saying “Excuse me” because they’ll know those things are wrong.
After kids: We swear, they’re just acting like this because they haven’t napped today. Really.
Before kids: You’ll never see our itsy-bitsy Einsteins zoning out on mindless cartoons that’ll turn their developing brains to mush! They’ll spend their tiny bit of screen time watching only high-quality educational programming!
After kids: Another episode of Spongebob? … Okay.
Before kids: Only stylish, clean, coordinated outfits for our precious pumpkins – no sloppy character t-shirts or mismatched socks! They’ll always be dressed like the kids in the magazines, their hair will never look crazy, and their faces will always be clean – especially in public.
After kids: *licks thumb, wipes smudge* … There! By the way, that (tutu/raincoat/Batman costume) looks fabulous on you. Now let’s go to the store.
The path to parenthood may be paved with good intentions – but sometimes the practical overthrows the perfect, and the real outweighs the ideal. None of us end up as the parents we thought we’d be … and that’s okay. Because when our children are grown, they’re not going to remember whether they had handmade artisanal baby food or the recommended amount of screen time, anyway.
They’ll be too busy passing judgment on parents. Until they have their own kids, that is.
This post has been sponsored by Beech-Nut Organics, made for mothers just like us who dream of preparing food for our children… but if given the choice, would choose a nap instead. Beech-Nut Organics
Beech-Nut Organics is giving away six months worth of baby food (in the form of physical coupons) to two Scary Mommy readers (woo-hoo!) To enter, just leave a comment below and winners will be picked at random at 12PM EST on September 24th. Good luck!