There is something special about parenthood that makes even the most confident among us feel like complete idiots. That unique something: kids.
There you are, minding your own business, thinking you've got it all figured out. You've read all the books and poured over all the research. OR you've worked with kids your entire life. OR you've known you were cut out for parenthood your whole life. OR everyone has always told you you'd make a wonderful mother one day. OR you're simply a genius who excels at everything she does. You got this. You're ready. You will definitely not be the kind of mother who does that. Or that. Your kids will never behave that way. You know you need to be consistent and loving and you have it ALL PLANNED OUT.
And then you have kids.
The other day, I became the mother I always swore I wouldn't become. I had seen such things and my children would never, ever behave that way in public. Until they did, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
All of a sudden, I was the mother pleading with her whiny, crying toddler splayed across the floor of the Nordstrom women's bathroom TO GET UP while her 14 month old screamed and tried to claw his way out of the Ergo. I was attempting to remain calm while negotiating with a tiny terrorist. I was pulling on his limp arms and doing that horrible whisper growl while random women stared and smiled judgingly. One grandmotherly woman even asked my son to pull her finger (thinking it would make him laugh I guess?) and then offered to pick my toddler up off the floor. Yes, woman I've never met. Man-handling my tantruming son will absolutely improve this situation. As will teaching him fart jokes. Thank you.
Ugh. It was completely humiliating. And probably an appropriate rite of passage for a formerly self-righteous-not-yet-mother who just knew she would never let that happen. What I did not know then is that sometimes you can't stop it from happening. I was caught completely off-guard. We had had a lovely morning playdate and were just running into the bathroom to change an ill-timed diaper on my 14 month old. Everything had been fine. Then my toddler's internal lunch bell must have gone off, because he totally lost his shit for no reason at all. And then he laid down in front of the door in the Nordstrom women's bathroom.
As I was pleading and begging and threatening and negotiating, I overheard a conversation between two new moms who were in the lounge breastfeeding. They were discussing the horror stories they'd heard about 3 year olds (anxious glance at my son) and how they simply couldn't believe that it was really that bad (second wary glance at melty puddle of toddler getting smacked in the head by women's room door). I managed to drag my son up off the floor, pointed down at him and said, "This is three." And then I smiled a great big giant smile. Good luck, ladies!
Because I knew I couldn't warn them. They wouldn't believe me! Not their kids. Seriously, I don't how every single one of us marches into parenthood filled with such moronic aplomb and certainty. Admit it: it all goes to hell as soon as the kid arrives and throws a little humanity in our best laid plans. What's worse is that we continue to announce what we will and will not do until our kids grow up and move out. Or until we die. Why do we not learn? It is impossible to anticipate how you're going to react in any given situation. You may swear up and down that you will never, ever, ever let your baby sleep in bed with you, but then one day you haven't slept in a week and she's sleeping so peacefully on your chest and... eh. Plans, schmans. You might vow that you will NEVER be the parent who allows your child to cause a ruckus in a restaurant, but then you find yourself with a warm plate of delicious food sitting right in front of you (something you have not experienced in, oh, however long your child has been out of the womb) and you hand him the spoon. Because it's not that loud and they can just deal.
Parenthood causes you to eat your words faster and more often than any other experience on the planet. Perhaps because we are all stubborn idiots who insist we are right all the time. The Mommy Wars need to be done, my friends. None of us are right. We all try to be right and we all try to do what is best for our kids. We HAVE to believe that we are right because this shit is hard. But believe this: you ARE going to do that thing you swore you would never do (cheddar bunnies for dinner? sure.)... and it's all going to be okay.
My kids had a ginormous tantrum in public, and I survived. I was that mother. Whatever.