I used to have fears that I would be an over the top, controlling, strictly-by-the-rules parent. You see, after teaching fourth grade for six years, I had learned early on what my deal-breakers would be. I had set imaginary boundaries for a child that was not yet conceived.
Leave the house without brushing your hair? No way.
Tennis shoes with a dress? Not my daughter.
Chicken fingers for every meal? Not in my house.
While I don't have a 9-year-old yet and have not faced those specific battles, I can already see myself eating my words. Before my daughter was born, I knew exactly how things were going to go. I had spent the majority of my relatively easy pregnancy reading every book that was suggested to me; I researched various topics ad nauseum. I heard myself repeat the phrase, "They say..." or, "This book tells you..." more times than I'd like to admit. I had it all figured out. I just knew I would never be the parent that held her baby all the time; I would never be the parent that gave her baby store-bought baby food; I would never be the parent that picked up a pacifier after it fell on the ground and (gasp) put it in my mouth to clean it; I would never be the parent that put her baby in front of the television and I would never be the mom that wasn't dressed with a full face of makeup on before leaving the house.
Wrong. Guilty on all counts.
Before you make up your mind about my parenting abilities, consider this. My baby is happy, healthy and I've managed to maintain my sanity. As far as I'm concerned, that's success.
As a first-time mom, I learned pretty early on not to be too quick to say, "I will never," or "My daughter will never [fill in the blank with questionable action]." In the beginning, I can openly admit I held my daughter as much as possible to avoid hearing her cry. At some point, I found myself wondering if I could actually use the restroom with her in my arms. Fast-forward five months and there are days when the TV is the only thing that keeps her from screaming. So who cares if we watch a little Bravo together? I like to consider it mother-daughter bonding. And guess what? Gerber makes fantastic baby food that she seems to have no problem eating. As far as getting dressed goes, my definition has slowly has evolved to changing out of my pajamas into yoga pants, with absolutely no intention of doing any sort of exercise.
My husband, who has always had a much better grasp of reality than I do, has been fortunate to have a front row seat to my ever-changing standards. He keeps me grounded and reminds me on a daily basis that every baby is different and we adjust our expectations to meet the needs of our baby. Adjusting expectations doesn't mean lowering expectations; it just means that we have learned that the reality of actually having a child is far different than reading or hearing about having a child.
Don't get me wrong, I still cringe when I see my niece lying on the floor of a restaurant, but I have learned not to say anything. Who knows what my child will be doing at that age? Until then, biting my tongue seems like a much better option than later having to eating my words.