Fact: I am not perfect. Not. Even. Close.
Fact: I honestly use to think that I was. (Well, maybe not 100%…but a solid 95%.)
Before I had children, I thought I knew every single thing about being a fantastic parent. I would observe parents and their kids in public and think things like Wow, who would let their kid do that? Why would anyone let their 3-year old dress themselves? Does she not notice that her child’s face is covered in dried snot? and Is the mom uniform sweats and hats?
Fact: I would quite simply, judge. Oh, and how I HATE that word! But, if I am going to be honest with you, JUDGING is EXACTLY what I did. I would
silently cast my uneducated opinions on unassuming friends, family, and total strangers. Now, I would only share my judgmental thoughts with my husband and my fellow FWK (friends without kids). Completely clueless parenting-virgins thinking they knew it all. What a joke!
I actually went as far as creating “Cara’s Top 5 Rules for Having a Child.”
- My child would NEVER be allowed sleep in my bed. EVER! (Well, maybe during a crazy thunderstorm.)
- My child would NOT watch any TV before the age of three, and after three, they would be able to watch educational shows only, such as Sesame Street or some of those Baby Einstein DVD’s.
- There would be no intake of any junk food. Including, but not limited to: fast food, soda, sugary cereal, chips or hard candy.
- I would NEVER use a TV or a video game as a baby sitter. (This rule applies only after said child is three.)
- My child would always be well-dressed and wellbehaved in public.
Now, I am sure that you are thinking I am a true piece of work. I would be, if I were reading this. But, before you officially cast me as a total nutcase, I encourage you to keep reading.
Fact: I’m embarrassed and humbled by all of the above statements. As I look back on my unrealistic “Top 5” list, I want to both crawl in a hole (with a glass of wine) and laugh.
Fact: My unrealistic thoughts about becoming a parent and actually being a parent are two VERY DIFFERENT THINGS! So, let me bring a little reality
into my Top 5.
- My youngest daughter, Brooklyn, wakes up nearly every night somewhere between 2-3 a.m. (so says my husband) and crawls into our bed. And, guess what? She has gotten so good at being oddly still and quiet that I don’t realize it until I wake up drenched in sweat because she is basically laying on top of me. And, guess what? I think she is gorgeous when she sleeps and it warms my heart so I let her stay. (Only sometimes….)
- My kids watch television and they did WAY before the age of three. I am not sure if they ever watched anything super educational like Sesame Street, because they have ALWAYS been obsessed with the Disney Channel. I do draw the line at Sponge Bob.
- Ice Cream, an occasional Sprite, McDonalds on the way from swim lessons, suckers at the bank drive through, NERDS at the movie theater, they eat and drink it all. The key to this one is not to deprive them but closely moderate the intake. We don’t want kids bouncing off the walls all the time!
- I think the iPad is the greatest invention ever, do you know why? For the first time in five years I have been able to take a shower in peace. So, do I use the iPad as an occasional babysitter? You bet I do. Sometimes a mom needs a solid 20-30 minutes to wash her hair and shave her legs in private.
- My two daughters, although dressed well, insist on t-shirts, jeans and socks that do not match. It is a fight to get them into anything “girly.” This past Halloween, my 5-year old, Olivia, was Spiderman and my 4-year old, Brooklyn, was Bumblebee the Transformer. And, all that nonsense about always being well-behaved in public is a total joke! I consider an outing a success if no one ends up in tears or locked in their bedroom upon our return home! (Myself included.)
Fact: We have all looked at other families in public settings and have undeservingly judged their situation. So remember, before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes… that way when you criticize them you’re a mile away and have their shoes! And, if that doesn’t work… try a smile. A smile can go a long way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cara Essick Ontiveros is the mom to 4-year old Brooklyn and 5-year old Olivia. Cara is a true modern
day mom and proudly wears many hats such as mom, wife, business owner, philanthropist, cook, maid,
chauffer, and wine-drinker.