The Parent I Was Never Going To Be

Today, I am fortunate to have another guest post. My guest is Joyce, from Relax and Float Downstream. I’ve been following Joyce’s blog for months now. Her topics range greatly though there is typically a Southern flavor to her posts. I find a certain humility and honesty in her writing and appreciate these qualities very much. She calls ‘em like she sees ‘em.

In real life, Joyce is a Connecticut native who has lived many years in Florida.  She is a forty-something married mother of two, university advisor, and jazz geek.  In her free time she enjoys cooking complicated dishes, watching old movies, and exercising.

Here’s Joyce on the parent she is as compared to the parent she thought she was going to be.

A little over seven years ago, I was not a parent.  My childless status did little to disabuse me of some notions I had regarding parenthood.  In fact, some might argue, my childlessness encouraged grandiose absurdities pertaining to appropriate parenting.  It’s just that way, isn’t it?  You simply can’t know until you’re in it, and then when you are, no words you can say can adequately relate the experience to those on the other side.

I’ve been thinking lately of my most laughable pre-parenting assertions as much as the interceding seven parent years will allow me to access that part of my brain.  (Parent years, you know, are like dog years, but more accelerated.  I now have a mind like Swiss cheese.)

The pacifier, for instance.  I had witnessed too many children, many in my own family, going about their day with a plug in their mouths.  Don’t get them started on it, I reasoned, and they won’t ever need it.  Popping a pacifier in your baby’s mouth is lazy parenting, I thought.

I was nearly allowed to get away with this line of reasoning as Nolan, my first child, had no use whatsoever for any pacifier that was ever offered to him (by other people, of course.)  It was later, after I had Mia, that I came to understand why a parent might possibly feel compelled to offer their child a pacifier.  At two weeks of age, this easy-going angel began crying profusely every evening and no amount of walking, rocking, or nursing would bring her peace.  Those cries could only be soothed by, you guessed it, a pacifier.

Picture courtesy of GoogleCalm Baby

Picture courtesy of Google
           Calm Baby

I’m told the most effective method for weaning from the pacifier is to cut a small hole in the tip, rendering the thing ineffective for sucking.  I did that once, and handed it to my trusting daughter who promptly spat it out.  “Oh no,” she cried in despair, “my paci is broken!”    And turned to me to fix it.  Which I did, by giving her a new paci.  My new goal is to have her weaned by the time she turns three.

Three years of age happens to be the goal we had set for potty training our son.  And potty training our son is another one of those things I was certain that I had in the bag.  You just commit to teaching them, I thought, and they are trained.  It’s simple.  Ha!

My son resisted every attempt to teach him to use the toilet for two years.  When we left him pants- and diaper-free for easier access, he tinkled all over the house like a puppy.  It was our great fortune that he became fully potty trained when he was nearly four years old, mere months before our baby arrived.  I learned that training does not happen on the parent’s schedule, but the child’s.

Another notion that went out the window was my opposition to video games for young children. Instead, I attempt to convince myself and others that the quick reflexes of my son, the Super Mario champion, are a direct result of his devotion to gaming.  And healthy meals, too…let’s forget that I ever believed that the majority of meals my children would consume would be healthy, considering the times that their main course has consisted of Velveeta mac-n-cheese.  And letting a child sleep with us?  I am no longer opposed to this, as I wake up each morning with an additional guest in my bed.

Many things I thought I knew do not fit in my world now.  What’s up is down and what’s down is up.  I’ve never lived by the seat of my pants so much in all my life, and I have decided to like it.  For every video game or frozen pizza dinner, we have an outing at the library or a soccer game in the yard.  We may watch a lot of cartoons, but we also have read many story books.  The best I can do for now is to try to inject enough of the good to outweigh the not-so-good, and to believe that all will balance out in the end.  Which may not be good enough for some, but it’s good enough for us – and we are the only ones I’m trying to please.




19 thoughts on “The Parent I Was Never Going To Be

  1. Such a great post!
    Joyce is so honest and such a wonderful mother. I love the way she balances everything.. 🙂
    “We may watch a lot of cartoons, but we also have read many story books.” – Love this!!

  2. I think the parent you were going to be and the parent I was going to be should go have coffee sometime to discuss how perfect their imaginary world is! Thanks for admitting that not everything always goes according to plan.

      • You know, I try not to pull the “you’re not a parent” card, and someone online once told me that the line is a cop-out, but sometimes it is appropriate.

  3. Great guest post Joyce! What parenting is all about is definitely an illusion! I had a ton of nieces and nephews and really thought I knew what parenting was all about…Holy Cow was I ever mistaken! I really love your last paragraph!

    • I’ve heard my wife say similar things – meaning that because she had some experience with her nieces and nephews that she knew what she was doing. Well, she did – to some extent. It’s not the same when the child is your own.

  4. It’s true. I said I would never give my kids Cheerios as church. I said I would never yell at my kids. I said I would have my kids potty trained early. Ha! Ha! and Ha! again! This is more reason why parents should never judge each other. Every parent has to do what works for them on an individual family and child basis. Great post.

  5. I enjoyed reading this. Yep. I used to think, I will never allow my kids to drink pop. It’s terrible for them. Well, threw that out the door. I allow them pop when we go out to eat our if we have company over. Ah, live and learn right? Thanks for the guest host. 🙂

  6. I think it all depends on the parent and the kid . . .

    Potty-training is whenever the kid wants to. You can’t FORCE a person to pee in the toilet.
    Pacifiers, on the other hand, you can take away when they’re not sleeping. What to do about when they sleep – this is a different story, but at least it’s not 24/7. Yeah, they get mad. But they get mad about a lot of things.
    And video games – well, if you don’t have them in the house, there’s never any temptation.
    I think the name of the game is “Realistic Expectations”. If your expectations are realistic, you’ll live up to them. 🙂 And if not, the mature thing is to let them go . . . like Joyce did.

    • I agree. In fact, the answer to so many questions is it depends. Each parent has to make his/her decision based on their outlook and their children.

  7. wonderful post! I enjoyed it very much, the part of potty training I can relate, I’m trying very hard with our 22 month old but today I gave up, he doesn’t want , he screams , so instead of trying I gave up! I feel bad but I realize every week is different, some start early and some a bit later! 🙂 My favourite part: many things I thought I knew do not fit in my world anymore! 🙂 so true!

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