Before I became a mama, I was the expert of experts when it came to parenting and mamahood.
I already knew exactly what I would and wouldn’t do as a mama when I had kids. By looking at what other mamas did and how they raised their kids, I was able to decide what I liked and didn’t like, and what I would apply to my own kids one day.
I already had ideas on how I was going to raise my kids when they were born and I was sure I would stick to them.
It’s so easy to judge others. Especially when you’re not in their position. We look in from the outside and based on what we see and hear, we form opinions of our own. Different people in different phases of life are faced with making difficult decisions, and those decisions are sometimes far from what we may have envisioned them to be. Yet, we find ourselves forming those opinions, not knowing what is really going on.
Armed with my set opinions, I was ready for mamahood. Nothing would change what I had prepared. Little did I know how quickly all that would disintegrate a few months into becoming a mama.
And you know what? I don’t feel all guilty about it. In fact, I have a better understanding from many years ago by thinking back to the mamas I considered as the example mamas and realised I’m one of them.
There are things no parenting books prepare you for. You go in head first, and you sometimes find yourself not being able to find answers nor follow advice given in parenting books, because reality is just too different.
There were times I felt incompetent being a mama, and those times still occur day to day in my life. You read parenting books and you realise that almost everything you do is wrong, and you find yourself questioning if you were even meant to be a mama. It’s such a strong contributor to mama guilt, it’s overwhelming.
I went from reading the parenting books and thinking, “Yes, this is exactly what I’ll do and nothing will change that” to “Did an actual parent right this??”
I went from thinking, “How do you let your kids do ‘this’ and ‘that’?” to “Dear mama from the grocery store a few months back, I get you now and I’m sorry for the judgement passed in my head.”
Seven years, and three kids later, I look back and I laugh. I laugh because I had never been so wrong about being a mama all those years back. I laugh because I’ve been made to swallow my words countless times and I sometimes wonder what else the future will open my eyes to. I still have thoughts about tween and teens years, and how we’ll handle life then, but I’m sure many, if not all, of those will be challenged as we have no idea what lies in store for us.
I’m sure I’m not the only mama out there that made this list in her mind pre-kids about how I would handle life when I had kids. Most of us are left swallowing our words as mamahood showed us who the real boss is.
I’ll never be a stay at home mama
While this wasn’t a planned decision but more out of necessity, I never saw myself as a stay at home mama because I was more worried about focusing on my career and balancing mamahood as time went on. I remember thinking I’d never be a stay at home mama, no way, and little did I know I’d be marking off almost three years of staying home with my kids.
I’ll never lose my social life
I was convinced that I would still have a social life after having kids. Or at least save some part of it. Not the case. So many of our friends ghosted when we had kids because our lifestyles just changed too much and we couldn’t keep up. So did my priorities. My social life consists now of answering WhatsApp messages a few hours late and a quick hello when bumping into someone we know at the grocery store.
I’ll never let myself go
I’ll always take care of myself and make sure I make time to practice self-care. It was easy when we only had one kid, a little harder when we had two and I kind of gave up when our third was born. There just wasn’t any time to worry about me. I’m trying to make some effort to squeeze in some self-care, where it’s just reading a few pages from a book a night, but it’s not always possible.
I’ll never leave home wearing stained clothes
I use to be very self-conscience about my appearance when going out in public. Always wearing clean and neat clothes and that wouldn’t change having kids. The amount of times I’ve left home wearing clothes stained with paint or food or spitup, and who knows what else, is insane.
I’ll never wear mama clothes
You know, the yoga pants and tracksuit pants trend? I vowed that I would never wear them, especially wearing them in public. I didn’t realise back then how comfortable they would be.
I’ll never let my kids watch excess TV
We’ve always lived in housing with a backyard so that’s where my kids would spend their time if they weren’t playing indoors. The times that we were running late to get home and I needed to make dinner as quickly as possible, or when the boys were at each other’s throats and the screaming and whining was just too much, the TV was my best friend to get them out of my way and have some quiet. The TV is still my best friend to this day.
I’ll never let my kids eat unhealthy food
Vegetables and other healthy food with every meal I made. No fatty foods, less starch and no take out. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve broken this rule. Sometimes Mac’ and Cheese was the quickest option to make on some nights, sometimes fish fingers and fries did the trick and ordering pizza to be delivered to our home was just a winner. While I do try to manage that we do eat healthy, sometimes I’m way more lenient than I should be of this rule.
I’ll never let my kids eat off the floor
This isn’t always possible to avoid because sometimes it happens when you’re not in the same room and you walk in as they’re putting the last piece off food in their mouth that was scattered on the floor. Five second rules don’t apply.
I’ll never let my kids eat something before I’ve paid for it at the store
Each time we go to a grocery store and I know I’ll be there for a long time, I’ll hand my kids each a juice and a packet of chips, and it keeps them busy until we’re ready to leave. This way there’s no whining and I can get through shopping with minimal distractions. I’ve never received a complaint about it from any of the stores and I’ve seen adults do this, so I feel no guilt about this method.
I’ll never let my kids throw a tantrum in public
Haha, it happens almost each time we go somewhere. I use to look at other mamas and think, “Gosh, can’t you do something about that?” to “If you something to say to me, I’ll bite your head off”. We’re all in this boat together.
I’ll never yell at my kids
Hubby Byren and I argue about me yelling at the kids often, more than I’d like to admit. I use to yell a lot more than I do now, because I’m trying to work more on my patience when it comes to my kids. Sometimes it’s hard to calm yourself down before you get to the yelling point, but when you’ve repeated yourself a thousand times and you’re just ignored, it’s hard to react in a calm and non-yelling manner.
I’ll never have a messy house
Never having a messy house is a myth. No matter how hard you try to keep it clean and in order, it never stays that way.
I’ll never change a nappy except in the designated area
I’ve changed nappies on grass, and on the mat, and on tiles, and on the front seat of the car. Of course, I used a cover to lay under the kids when doing so but not everywhere you go is equip with a designated nappy changing area, and some of the places that are, are so gross and dirty you’ll opt for anywhere but there.
I’ll never leave home with dirty kids
My kids have left home with food smudges on their faces and on their clothes, clothes that are stained with mud and grass marks. I don’t feel ashamed. I never have. When you’re running late, you don’t always find yourself focusing on these small details.
I’ll never skip bath time
You know, never have ‘piggy nights’ where your kids skip taking a bath before going to bed. I’ve done this a lot! Depending on the extent of their dirtiness, I decide once a week, usually on a Friday night, if we’ll skip bath time. I still give them a good wipe down before they get in bed, but bath time isn’t happening.
I’ll never ignore my kids
When they’re whining about the most ridiculous things and I’ve repeated myself enough times, I just ignore them. They eventually realise they’re not getting anywhere and give up. Sometimes it takes up to an hour of ignore but I prevail.
I’ll never swear in front of my kids
I use to swear like a sailor pre-kids era, more for emphasis than a second language. I knew I’d have to keep watch over what I said when we had kids to not let it rub off on them and teach them to use the words. I kept up with that for a long time actually, but sometimes in conversation with other adults, some spilled out. It happens. So far, the boys haven’t ever used any and even tell us to not say them if they overhear us or someone else swearing.
I’ll never bribe my kids
I’ve bribed. I’ve bribed too much. For them to keep quiet, for them to do their chores, for them to go to bed. I’ve gotten better at going easy on the bribing as it became a habit for the boys to get away with things and I pulled the plug on it. Yet, sometimes, where I’m forced to pick my battles, a little bribery doesn’t hurt.
I’ll never co-sleep
I managed to avoid this with the boys. They slept in their own beds from a young age and I had no troubles with teaching them to fall asleep independently and sleep in their own spaces. With Cay, I failed at sticking to that rule. As I was breastfeeding, it was easier to put her in bed with me to nurse and we would just fall asleep after and both would be comfortable. Now that I’ve stopped breastfeeding and it’s been a few months since, Cay still wakes up during the night to sleep in bed with me. While I love the cuddles, I know I need to start training her to sleep in her own bed for the entire night, and I’ve started doing so in small steps, by letting her fall asleep on her own without me holding her in my arms anymore. Small steps.
Never say never, mamas-to-be… It’s never the case when it comes to mamahood, you have no idea what awaits you until you find yourself facing the music.
What are some of the things, if not all, did you say you’d never do pre-kids but ended up doing them when you became a mama?