Parenting

The Perfect-Parent Myth

 

My husband and I were never going to be pacifier parents. Seeing kids roaming around with bits of plastic stuffed in their mouths always made us gag. Besides, I was going to breastfeed and the last thing we wanted to inspire was nipple confusion.

Fast-forward nearly 2 months: We’re now the happy owners of no fewer than 5 pacifiers. One for upstairs, one for down, one for the stroller, one backup in case of loss, and another backup just in case. Pacifiers, among many other things, have signaled the difference between what we planned to do as parents versus what we’re actually doing as parents. As viral-video and blogging parents Thad and Esther Anderson illustrate in their latest YouTube video, we aren’t alone.

Then: I wasn’t going to be pony-tail mommy covered in spit-up and looking like a train wreck.

Now: I’m sure I’ll be out of yoga pants and sweats in a few years. But, triumph is in compromise: I made a hair appointment and baby, I’m keeping it! Okay, so maybe I am intending to chop my locks so my son can’t pull them any longer, but at least I won’t be wearing a ponytail 24/7!

Then: I was going to blissfully breastfeed my baby and cuddle with him in bed all day.

Now: I’m staring dead-eyed at the television waiting for him to finish his bottle, hoping it will coax his over-tired body that hasn’t stopped climbing me for nearly half-an-hour into a much-needed nap. Not that I’ll be napping, of course, at least not if my husband and I want clean underwear for the week.

Then: I’ll handle the baby 24/7 so my husband can sleep and focus on his job and painstaking commute.

Now: My husband takes the early-morning feeding so I can rest up for the 15-hour day ahead.

Then: I’ll maintain my work as a freelance writer while the baby naps.

Now: I maintain my work as a freelance writer while the baby naps …on me.

Then: My house will continue to be cleaned on a weekly basis.

Now: Dear God, I really need to dust. And mop. And why is my stove top the color of burnt sauce? “Mom, can you come over for a few hours? It’s a BYODR party: Bring Your Own Dust Rag!”

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Granted, there are some things we haven’t given in on. We aren’t co-sleeping despite my newborn’s wishes. The idea of my sleep-talking, sleep-running husband accidentally crushing our son wins out over any cries to the contrary. Our son isn’t getting to suck on a bottle to his big stomach’s content, either. And whether he likes it or not, he’s going to take a nap. The “giving in” line is always defined by his health and best interests, something all new parents need to keep in mind. Sure, they may cry incessantly, but in the end you are the boss for a reason.

The reality of parenting is that you didn’t birth a little robot that you can program on demand. You created a tiny human with thoughts, feelings, desires and opinions of his own. And while you are in charge, you still have to work within the context of his needs and, to a reasonable extent, his comprehension. If all he knows is that sucking a paci feels good or cuddling with mommy relaxes him into a deep sleep, then I’m willing to make those sacrifices. As my husband’s uncle, who happens to be a dentist, said to us when it came to pacifiers (and anything else): “Do whatever works. We’ll fix it later.” In the name of sanity (and sleep) he was right.

Images via Shutterstock