What is it about people who aren't yet parents and their need to dole out parenting lessons? I'll admit that at one point in my life, I was one of those Smuggy McSmugingtons who assumed I knew everything there was to know about being a parent — feed it, change it, clean it, right? Easy. Well, I've got two kids now and (surprise!) my assumption that I had parenting figured out before I ever became a mom myself couldn't have been farther from the truth.
Honestly, I'm close to three years into this motherhood gig and I'm still trying to figure it out. There are definitely things I wish I had known before becoming a mom, but even those lessons might not have fully prepared me. Because the truth of the matter — the thing that no one wants to tell you — is that nothing can fully equip you with everything you'll need for all that becoming a parent entails.
Yes, there's a lot of feeding and butt-cleaning and not sleeping involved, but that's only the tip of one very large iceberg in an even larger ocean. Now that I'm in the thick of it, I can't help but to laugh at myself and others in all of our omnipotent pre-parental glory, assuming that we knew all there was to know.
So for the sake of laughing at our sweet, innocent, naive past selves, I've compiled a list of completely batsh*t things people have said about kids and parenting long before ever actually becoming parents.
"I'll Never Let My Kids Eat Crap Food."
We've all got good intentions when it comes to feeding our children. Whether it's making our own baby food or swearing off certain brands with GMOs or antibiotics or whatever else it is that we're suddenly supposed to panic about tomorrow, we all want to give our kids the best, most nutritious food possible.
Something that we perhaps hadn't considered in our pre-baby days is that our kids couldn't care less about our nutritional intentions, and there will come a time they will make up their own minds about what they will and will not put into their mouths, no matter how much effort and research we put in.
"I'm Just Going To Sleep When The Baby Sleeps."
Like most parents, Tina Fey has got a good response to her friends and family telling her to sleep when the baby sleeps. "Why stop there? Why not scream when the baby screams? Take Benadryl when the baby takes Benadryl, and walk around pantless when the baby walks around pantless?" Fey said in her book Bossypants.
Also, babies sleep for, like, 30 minutes at a time. So by the time you put the baby down, brush your teeth, feed yourself, and get cozy there's a very good chance that you're baby is going to wake up right when you reach the deep sleep phase. And that pretty much sucks.
"What Do Stay-At-Home Moms Even Do?"
"I mean, it must be so fun to just stay at home in your pajamas all day and watch Grey's Anatomy with you kid while they just take care of themselves."
Pardon me while I go laugh hysterically. I'm not a stay-at-home mom, so I can't speak completely for them, but I am a work-at-home mom and I can tell you that there's very little luxury to this title of tending to my house and family all day every day, while often basically putting my own needs (like, say, showering) on the back burner.
This article could be 5,000 words long and it still wouldn't even come close to covering everything that a stay-at-home mom does. Those women are saints and bosses and magicians, and I bow all the way down to their multi-tasking skills and devotion. It's so funny what my pre-baby self thought about that life.
"Why Do Women Breastfeed In Public? Don't They Feel Exposed?"
Um, because their babies are hungry? Because it's not the responsibility of women to cater to the comfort of other grown-ass people, especially when doing so means that an actual baby doesn't get to eat freely? What was pre-baby me thinking? That it was a chill idea to just, ya know, tell the baby to wait until they got home to eat? I'm sad not only that breastfeeding freaked me out temporarily, but that it continues to freak out way too many people every single day.
"We Aren't Going To Let Our Kids Watch TV."
Also, obviously, most People Without Kids™ feel very strongly about their kids (who, again, don't exist) having no screen time. No screens of any kind, ever. Just coloring books and counting cars because we all know that TV is the damn devil, right?
I'd like past me to jump in a time machine and try to have that conversation with when when it's 11 a.m. on a Saturday and I need to just go hide out in the bathroom while I finish my coffee.
"I'll Never Have "That Kid" Pitching A Fit In The Store."
Oh wait, yes, you will. Hopefully not all that often, but there will most definitely be a point in your parenting journey when your kid will become that kid in the check out line at Target, and you will become that mom making that face.
Just accept it and move on.
"I Don't Ever Want Kids."
This is something that a lot of people might actually mean, but the tone in which it is said speaks volumes. There's nothing wrong with not wanting kids. Nothing at all. But if you're telling someone that does want kids that you don't want them, depending on your tone it might come off as a bit judgmental.
Telling someone you don't want kids is fine, but just as that person respects your decision not to have kids, you should respect their choices too.
"I Don't Think It's Going To Be That Hard."
Feed, clean, sleep, right? It's that easy! Except, no, it's not that easy. There are these things called vegetables, and chances are, your kids will hate most of them a lot of the time. And a lot of babies refuse to sleep, and those feedings happen every few hours (which gives you just enough time to clean up in between them). Then there's the pressure to actually teach these little humans the ABCs and other important life lessons. There's the responsibility of teaching them about diversity, and teaching them how to treat everyone with respect, the need to both nurture them and let them find their own way all without seeming too overbearing or too lackadaisical. We aren't just raising babies, we're raising the people that are going to be in charge of the future, and that's kind of a big deal.
But you're totally right, Past Me. It's not that hard.
"I'll Never Let My Kid Get Away With [Insert Thing They'll Eventually Get Away With Here]."
Are you seeing a pattern here? The lesson to be learned is that you should never say never. Because, yes, there's a good chance that they will eat a chicken nugget eventually. They will throw a tantrum in public one day, and they will rebel against every effort you make to clothe them one day. It's going to happen. It's kind of adorable how much our pre-kid selves were convinced that we would be magically excluded from all of this.
"Kids Don't Belong In Restaurants."
Why would anyone every actually want to expose their children to the elements of O'Charley's? I mean, are they crazy?
"I'm Going To Have My Child Potty Trained Before Their Second Birthday."
Ahahahahaha. Oh you guys, just stop it.
"Why Can't [Friend With Kid] Just Get A Sitter?"
Well, because trusting another human to take care of your child is sort of a big deal. Truthfully, most parents don't think that anyone is capable of taking care of their children the way they do, and yeah, that's probably true but that doesn't mean that there isn't someone out there capable of doing a perfectly decent job.
Between competing for the "good sitters" and not wanting to spend the money just to go out and spend more money, and just being really tired and kinda wanting to stay home anyway, it's a wonder that people without kids aren't more aptly saying, "Oh wow, [friend with kid] actually got a sitter? What a hero of organization, budgeting, and energy-having! Let's buy them all the drinks!"
"My Kids Will Never Sleep In My Bed."
Pre-kid me was pretty serious about this. It was so not going down. Like, seriously, never. Except, yes, they did end up in my bed at some point when their tummies hurt, or when they were scared, or when they just missed me and put on their super adorable face that was begging me to cuddle them. Being wrong sucks (sorry, Past Me) but honestly, this is not the worst thing in the world that could happen.