I have a really big mouth. I have worked for years to improve my filter. I am super grateful that I did not widely voice the things I used to think about parenting to anyone who was actually a parent. We all do it: we all think we know everything about things we know nothing about. There are things I thought about what kind of teacher I’d be, what kind of wife I’d be—even what kind of grown-up I’d be—that are, in hindsight, laughable. Lest we forget, I incessantly mocked fans of the Backstreet Boys (sorry, Mom!) until I realized I did want it that way. I swore up and down that the Québécois guy named after a wizard was JUST A FRIEND (I married him). But the things I thought about parenting, and the judgments I (silently, thank goodness) passed on parents around me, make me want to punch pre-kids Lindsay in the throat.
Stupid Stuff I Thought Before I Had Kids
1- Old enough to ask for it is too old to be breastfeeding.
Why I thought I was the authority on breastfeeding when I was 17 is beyond me. (Probably because I thought I was the authority on everything.) I was confident I wanted to breastfeed my kids. It seemed pretty cool. I was eager to finally surpass my A-cup, and it seemed cost-effective. But breastfeeding a kid who could actually ask for breastmilk? That seemed gross. That seemed weird. I wasn’t going to cross that line.
Little did I know how much I would love breastfeeding. I loved when I taught Cub to sign for milk, I loved when he told me he wanted nuk. I was sad when I had to wean him when I got pregnant (and oh so nauseated) with his sister. Cub and I still talk about how he used to drink my milk! I fired off angry tweets in defence of the boob to my local CBC station (not randomly, they were doing a story on Moms being told to cover up). Once, I even nursed my son and his toddler buddy when I was babysitting (with permission from his Mom, of course).
2- Why have kids if you’re just going to put them in daycare?
I cringe. I really, really just cringe to think I ever even thought this. I am likely still alive to tell this tale because I did not voice this thought to any parent with a child in daycare (or with childcare of any kind). I can think of many, many ways to refute this crazy thought of mine, and I should clarify that I was only judging Moms (or Dads) who could feasibly stay at home full time but chose to work. (Not that that makes me sound any less ridiculous, but at least I didn’t think people who needed the income shouldn’t procreate!) My kids are at home with me full time right now, aside from preschool twice a week for Cub, but when we lived in Montreal, Cub attended daycare part time for a year. Putting my son in daycare made me a better Mom, and it made him bilingual! Plus, he ate a bunch of things he would never eat for me, he made friends, he learned games and songs and sharing, and he would lie down on the pavement and refuse to come home with me at the end of the day. Daycare is no longer an affordable option in Calgary, but if I wanted to go back to work outside the home, I wouldn’t hesitate now to put my children in daycare, and I wouldn’t feel like a horrible mother for doing so. No no, now I just feel guilty that they’re home with me all day not getting all of the fun interaction from a daycare!
When I only had Cub, and prior to him going to daycare, I even thought it was crazy to leave your first child in daycare while home on maternity leave with your newborn. Oh. My. Goodness. Had we stayed in Montreal, Cub would’ve absolutely continued going to daycare and NOT just to keep his space. I didn’t get any of the precious one-on-one time with Little Miss Cub that I did with her brother. I had to be out of bed in the morning to care for the preschooler! Instead of lounging in my bed with Netflix for marathon nursing sessions, I quickly mastered the art of keeping Little Miss latched on while picking up Cub to put him on the toilet. So yeah, if you can afford day care and your child is happy there, enjoy those early days solo with your newest arrival!
3- I will be totally fulfilled just staying home with my kids!
This kind of rides on my previous unfounded belief. Because my Mom stayed home with me and my brother (aside from some part-time work during which my grandparents looked after us), I assumed that all mothers if given the chance would want to stay home with their children full time. I remember thinking that if I ever won the lottery, I would give my aunts enough money to allow them to quit their jobs and stay home full time with my cousins. Now, there are most definitely parents who do wish that they could be at home full time, but what I now understand is it’s not the only wish. My aunt always tells me: “I’d be an awesome stay-at-home Mom if my kids went to day care!” I never understood what she meant … until now.
I thought that once I had my children, my entire focus would be honed in on mothering. I didn’t think I’d want to work, or pursue any kind of hobby or passion outside of my children. I was clearly delusional. I will grant that I still don’t miss teaching, and I’m not chomping at the bit for a 9 – 5 job outside of the home. However, even if it hadn’t become a business, I would most definitely still be blogging as an outlet for my pedagogical/creative side.
There’s a strong chance I would’ve joined the Sanctimommies and been up in arms about Chrissy Teigen (I still don’t actually know who she is) going out for dinner and leaving her 9-day-old baby in someone else’s care for a few hours. Not so any more, not so. In fact, I’m ignoring my children right this minute so I can write this post!
4- Letting your kid sleep in your bed is ridiculous.
I know where this comes from. If I got scared at night, my parents only ever let me sleep on their bedroom floor. They weren’t down with me crawling into bed with them, and that’s okay. I guess I just came to believe that it was somehow detrimental for a child, and poor parenting, to bed share. I co-slept with Cub off and on until he was almost three, and now he climbs in with us, or one of us climbs in with him every so often, but otherwise he sleeps in his “big boy bed” without issue. And that’s the thing: it’s a non-issue. For my parents, not sleeping in my bed the whole night was “bad behaviour” and treated as such. For me, if Cub wakes up and needs a snuggle, it’s just not a big deal. I remember rolling my eyes when one of my aunts got a bigger bed to accommodate her kids often hopping in in the middle of the night. “I’ll never do that!” I probably said to another childless friend. Now I kind of want a bigger bed ….
It’s a bit like breastfeeding: I had no idea how much I’d just like having my kids snuggled up with me at night.
5- Baby sign language is for losers.
Oh, Lindsay. You silly, silly girl. I used to think that teaching your baby sign language was pretty darn lame. Like, why not just teach them to TALK, you buncha weirdos? I remember babysitting my cousin, who was probably a year old, and she was constantly signing for “more.” I thought it was pretty annoying. You know what’s way more annoying than a baby signing for more snacks or more toys? A child wailing and screaming because you don’t. know. what. the. heck. she. wants.
I thought baby sign language would delay speech. I can assure you that my cousin has been articulate and well-spoken from a very young age. Furthermore, when I finally introduced some signs with my firstborn, I found it supremely helpful in our bilingual household. You know what happened when he learned to sign for milk? He stopped yanking frantically at my shirt. When he started signing more, hungry, thirsty or all done, we averted so many “My Mom doesn’t understand me!” meltdowns. Baby sign language absolutely fostered my son’s communication skills, and it wasn’t long before he would add the word, in French or English, to the appropriate sign. By the time he was two, he had dropped his signs and was using only words. Now that his sister is 9 months old, I’m trying to get into the habit of signing with her, and Cub is a huge fan of teaching her signs. I might not feel the need to teach her the alphabet or every zoo animal in sign language, but I will definitely be teaching her enough to communicate her basic needs.
6- Leggings are not pants, and jeggings are an abomination.
I can’t even put on regular jeans or tailored pants anymore. I dread the day I have to return to waistbands, zippers/flies or flared cuffs. Leggings aren’t the same as tights. I was wrong. Jeggings are practically formal wear in my world now! Bottoms that glide seamlessly from bedtime to daytime to date night? Leggings, and jeggings, are a staple of my stay-at-home mom wardrobe.
Never say never.
I will give my pre-child self some credit. I never once thought having children would be easy, and I never proclaimed my life wouldn’t change after having children. Nope, those outlandish assertions came from the aforementioned shorter-than-me Wizard husband. And I did think I’d like having kids (I do), that I would be a pretty good mother (I am), that I’d stick to cloth diapering (it escalated quickly), that my kids would share my love of fast food (Cub just asked for nuggets) and that my kids would probably find ways to annoy me that I never believed possible. I thought I knew how much I would love them, but I definitely underestimated. It didn’t occur to me, however, that motherhood would actually make me less judgmental. All I want is to feel solidarity with other mothers, whether they love the “homemaking” life or can’t wait to get back to work; whether they bottle feed or breastfeed; co-sleep or crib sleep; use cloth, disposables or that thing where you potty train a newborn; whether they’re in the “slides are for sliding” or “let them climb slides” camps, I just want to say to other mothers:
If you’re lining up for your ticket on the Dinosaur Train, destination “the early 2000s,” to punch me in the face, save me a spot!