We all know that parenting is hard, but do you really know everything about it until you are in it? We have asked a few parents to share what things surprised them about being a parent.This month we are going to hear from a few mothers about the things they weren’t expecting when it came to caring for their kids.
Thanks to Karla Griesbaum, for sharing her story!
- That each child is different, and require different parenting. There are so many books, articles, magazines, and products that try to tell us how to raise our children. How to get them to sleep, what they should be eating, when they should eat it, or age-appropriate activities and milestone charts. The most important thing I’ve learned as a parent is to follow my instincts. Before I had kids, I thought that I’d be prepared, and most of my preparations were all for not. I had newborn cloth diapers that ended up digging into my son’s little legs. So that was a bust. I read about independent sleeping and put him down when he fell asleep all the time – something which I regret and vowed to hold my subsequent children as much as possible. I thought a pacifier was an evil devise used to silence a baby in need of attention. If I would have let my first use one, he may not have nursed so much he violently spit up all the time. My second didn’t want it. My third now uses it. I’ve learned that I need to follow their lead. I don’t treat all my children the same. It may not seem fair, and it wasn’t how I thought good parenting should be, but the truth is they are all different people, with different needs. There is no perfect answer for how to get a child to sleep, or to eat their vegetables, or to use manners. Each child learns differently and responds differently, and I have to be three different Moms to each.
- That there is nothing you can do to prevent “bad” behavior. Of course, as a parent, I’ve learned to see the behavior that I used to see as ornery as normal child development. Babies, toddlers, and kids are going to test limits. They are going to scream, throw fits, break down at the slightest thing, and break the rules. It’s in their nature and has nothing to do with being a “bad” parent. Of course, I take each episode as a learning opportunity – to teach them how to use their words, to let out their anger in safe ways, to be respectful…and it’s an ongoing process. I’ve gained patience from this (but still need more). I was a preschool teacher before having kids and said all the time “My kids will never do that!”. Well, they did. And they do. Because that’s what kids do; and once again, they are all different. My son is a rule-follower. He listens, wants to please. He is also very sensitive though, and it hurts when something doesn’t go how he planned (he is my clone, basically). My daughter never listens, it seems. She fights me tooth and nail, is dramatic, and screams. It’s not because I let her get away with anything…it’s because it’s in her nature, and while we are working on it, I now know that I didn’t cause her to be that way.
- That I have come to love my body more with each baby. As a young woman I would hear mothers blame pregnancy and motherhood for their unhappiness with their aging bodies. That each gained a few pounds with each and never lost it, that their skin never returned to normal, and these were all bad, hated things. However, being pregnant made me love my body for really the first time. Growing up I was never happy – I was too skinny as a kid…I had no curves or breasts. Then I was too heavy. Then too skinny again, then fat. My spine is curved making only my left hip stick out. Every woman around me criticized themselves, and I did the same. However, being pregnant I felt like I finally knew what my body was there for. I cherished the curves. I didn’t care about cellulite or my never ending behind. I felt healthy, like this is how I should always be. After three babies my body has changed a lot. However, I feel good. I feel healthy and accomplished. I may not like what I see when I look in the mirror, but that’s all the more reason to not even look, because it doesn’t matter. What matters is I’m active and healthy, and my children see a positive attitude towards body image that they can carry into adulthood to avoid the perils I went through in my youth. I never thought having three babies would make me love my body.