Before I had kids, I thought I knew it all. Sure, babies are notorious for avoiding sleep, but my babies would effortlessly sleep through the night. And yes, some parents find it difficult to be both firm and fair with their kids, but me? Ha, that's child's play. And those moms trying to comfort their tantrum-throwing toddlers at the local supermarket? That would never be me. Sure, some of the aforementioned are lies we all tell ourselves before procreating, but there were a lot of stupid things I said about raising toddlers that were just plain ignorant and arrogant. In the end, though, I got what I deserved
Here's the thing about raising toddlers: they're wildly unpredictable mini-humans with no hold on their big, or small, emotions. I remember babysitting cousins or children of friends long before I had my own kids, thinking "this is so easy." But babysitting is only "easy" because they're not your kids, and you're only responsible for them for a short amount of time. When you're parenting a toddler every hour of every day, you realize how quickly their moods can change. You are privy to the horror that is offering a 2-year-old a red sippy cup instead of a blue sippy cup, and the meltdown that follows. You are the one that has to say no when they keep asking to eat the same chocolate bar over and over again, so you're the one they grow increasingly angry at until their emotions transform your sweet cherub into a demon child.
Now that I've raised two toddlers-turned-children, I know better. But back then? Ha. I was so naive and clueless and incapable of imagining just how taxing raising a toddler can be. So with that in mind, and because at least someone should benefit from my hard-earned knowledge, here's what I said about toddlers before I was responsible for one:
"It Can't Be That Hard"
I could just kick myself for ever thinking parenting wouldn't be difficult. Every single day I face a new challenge, and every single day I make some sort of mistake. When I was babysitting I was under a false impression of that parenting would be a breeze, but those kids were on their best behaviors. So when I had my own kid and they didn't care if mom saw them scream or cry or throw a toy or a temper tantrum, I was shocked. Nothing about parenting is "easy." The end.
"It Looks Fun"
There are times being a mom is fun, yes, but it's also hard as hell. Raising little humans who will grow up to be adult humans is a lot of responsibility. I'm constantly worrying. Will I scar them forever? Will I do something that changes them in ways I don't want? Will they be OK in the world, without me? It's fun when we have family game night. It's not fun when my toddler is lying face down in the supermarket screaming her head off over a candy bar.
"I'll Be A Patient Mom"
I admire my intent to be patient. But now that I have kids, I see there are times when being patient is physically impossible. When my kids were toddlers my patience was tested every single day, because toddlers are notoriously slow at everything and notoriously quick to question authority. Looking back, I wish I'd told myself to better prepare for "small" errands taking all damn day, or saying no 13,453,224 times in a 24 hour period.
"They're So Adorable & Sweet"
They can be, sure. My toddlers definitely were... at times. You know, until they flipped the switch and turned into demons from the seventh circle of hell all because I put green beans on their plate for dinner. Aside from that, yes: they were very adorable and sweet.
"My Kids Would Never Act That Way"
I played judge and jury prior to becoming a parent, and I'm ashamed of myself for it. I honestly believed I would be a better parent than the mothers with tantrum-throwing toddlers in stores, or the moms who lost their cool because of something stupid. But here I am, crying in the cereal aisle while my kid throws a fit. Karma is a b*tch, you guys.
"I'd Get Them On A Schedule"
To my defense, I've always tried to stick to a schedule, regardless. But with toddlers (and kids in general) unpredictability is the name of the game. It's not always as easy to get them to do the things I want, when I want them to, but damn did I try.
"I Can't Wait To Have Kids"
Dear Past Me:
You will have kids and you will do your very best to be a great mother. But there will be many times you'll fail and make mistakes and feel like you made a giant mistake. Why? Because I know you feel ready, but you have no idea what in the hell you're about to get yourself into. So calm down and be a little more humble about what you think motherhood entails, because I know it's absolutely going to kick your ass in the most frustrating, most beautiful, most difficult, most fulfilling kind of way. Oh, and stop saying stupid things about parenting toddlers.
More Experienced Me
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