Before I had kids, I was a perfect parent. My four (yes four) fictional children were impeccably well behaved, ate whatever I put in front of them, and were little angels on airplanes and in public with nary a loud word, and never a tantrum. They would want to wear whatever I bought them, and I would never have to sleep train them because they would sleep through the night automatically, I just knew it.
Suffice to say, my former self was kind of a jerk. I was overly judgmental (in my head anyway) when families with small kids were having issues. Kid crying in Target? “Seriously, what are they doing to that poor child?” Kids not wanting to eat the dinner put in front of them for Thanksgiving, instead demanding mac and cheese? “My kids will never do that. I’m going to do baby led weaning, and my kids will eat whatever I put in front of them.” Kids zoned out watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? “My kids will only watch 30 min of educational television a day.” I was such a rigid, sanctimonious parent in my head (and a jerk, don’t forget).Thank goodness my two kids have taught me how wrong I was to judge.
Kid screaming in Target now? I’m smiling at their parents and giving my best Katniss Everdeen salute. I’ve carried mine out screaming while holding him like a surfboard; no judgement here. I see kids eating vegetables, and I literally take mental notes on what the parents are doing (I’m not a stalker, promise). You see I followed recommendations, I did all the things, veggies first, baby led weaning, “let the kid eat what you eat to develop their palate..” My four year old has literally had ketchup for dinner. Ketchup. He’s just now branching out and will “try” meats other than chicken. Forget vegetables. If they aren’t hidden in the dino nuggets, or (gasp) fruit snacks, he’s not touching them. We go through mac and cheese by what feels like the truckload. I hate mac and cheese, but he loves it, so even though the smell literally makes me gag, I make it for him several times a week and for every major holiday. Come to think of it, he sometimes eats it on the couch while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, because Mama needs some sanity, and the show is actually pretty clever. He’s also had it on a plane, because it was the one thing I could do to get him to stop screaming. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was almost 2; and we negotiate daily on what he wants to wear, when I tell him he can’t go into public naked. I adore him and his craziness, and he and his brother love me despite my flawed parenting.
I’m not a perfect parent. None of us is, regardless of what the “Karen” in your circle says, we are all just writing the manual as we go, and hoping we don’t screw up our kids too badly. And you know what? That’s ok. It’s great even. Give yourself some grace, and keep on keeping on. You’re doing great Mama.