It doesn’t have to be like this.

We’re sitting here very early at the Detroit airport, waiting to fly home from a long family visit. We stayed six different places, saw 4 sets of parents, 2 sets of grandparents, two brothers and sister in laws, 2 nieces, 8 aunts and uncles, 6 cousins (and four of their kids), and roughly 8 friends. It’s probably the longest we have been in Michigan since we moved 5 years ago and we feel we actually got to spend some time with people so that was nice.

My biggest annoyance as a pregnant lady is people saying something like, “You’ll change your mind about that” or “That’s what you think now” when we talk about parenting choices. Normally we hear this from disgruntled parents- the tired ones who remember the kind of parents they hoped to be and feel guilty about falling short. It upsets us both and is the one thing I will no longer tolerate. I know parenting will not go as expected- I’m not dumb. But every day if worry about having a healthy baby, about recovering from that process, and surviving as a family through the first year. I believe steakums and I will be fine through delivery but know we could not be. I do not fear for our lives but am nervous and scared about the whole thing so it’s nice to hold onto some optimism that we can do parenting our way. Quite frankly, I find the naysayers to be assholes.

That last few days we have been with our bet friends. They came to join us and my family at my dad’s and then we spent two nights at their house prior to them taking us to the airport today. Yesterday their daughter turned two. They visited us over her first birthday and we saw her at a relative’s house when she was around 3 months old. This was a fun visit with them and she’s great but there were so many reasons we left the Midwest and I wonder if our child would be raised like theirs if we were still there. Throughout our time with them Lesley and I kept looking at each other and saying, “It doesn’t have to be like this.” We know we can parent/live in a different way.

Their house looks like a toy store blew up. There are multiple play kitchen and other huge place play places. They have yet to get rid of a single toy. She has two tables where you can hit buttons that light up and they keep them both, despite one having no batteries. They keep the other because sometimes she hits the button sometimes and likes that it plays music. There is a child’s picnic table in the middle of the living room she eats at. There are piles of books in every room. It doesn’t have to be like this. Becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean losing every inch of my home.

Their house is filthy. I would say that it’s just cluttered but it is dirty. There is no organization to anything and straight up trash all over. It doesn’t have to be like this. Becoming a parent does not mean I cannot pick up after myself ever.

My best friend is stressed about their daughter’s birthday party tomorrow. They are hand making many of the decorations and preparing for 30 people. We spent most of out time there putting together gift bags and coloring Winnie the Pooh characters on poster board. It doesn’t have to be like this. Becoming a parent does not mean having to throw elaborate birthday parties for a kid who is 2.

Their daughter’s favorite treat is whipped topping. She is allowed to eat junk food. While my best friend tries to limit it her wife does not. It doesn’t have to be like this. Becoming a parent does not mean that you lose your ideals about not feeding your kid junk or at the very least does not mean that it’s okay to have yours and your partner’s behavior completely contradict one another.

While at my dad’s house it took them an hour to get a bag together to walk to a different family house across the street. It doesn’t have to be like this. Becoming a parent does not mean it has to take you forever to accomplish one task. (Especially not when the adult to child ratio is 2 to 1.)

They bought a minivan for their three person family so their daughter can watch movies in the car. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS!

I know that believing we can escape these things means that we may be in for a big surprise. While I love our friends and their daughter is well taken care of, healthy, and loved. I just have to keep my belief that our lives will be different than that.

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Posted on May 28, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. I know exactly what you mean! From people telling you that you’ll change your mind (UGH) to knowing that I will NOT raise my children the way some of my close friends & family do. What I can hope most of all for myself throughout it all is to never be the person that tells others they will change their minds/ outlooks later. Basically to not pick up the attitude of the people I do not want to turn in to. And to never be afraid to throw out old toys!

  2. I’m going to start practicing that zen smile and evasive answers.

  3. twomamasonebaby

    I agree. Time a thousand.

  4. Totally and completely agree. A lot of my “ideals” have gone down the shitter, but I haven’t let go of the important stuff. You’ll find your groove and who’s to say you won’t uphold your ideals?!

    • I’m okay with giving up on ideals – we’re going to have to be flexible to do what is best for our kid. But it gets old having people tell me what I’ll give up on. It’s a good thing so many people are parenting experts…

  5. It absolutely does not have to be like that. You will not be like that, all of those things are deliberate choices! πŸ™‚

    We’ve got two littles and have somehow managed so far to live all of our parenting ideals, which seem very similar to yours, and it hasn’t been hard to do at all. I mean, parenting is hard (but awesome), but living our ideals really hasn’t. Your lives will be different than theirs because you will make it different – parenting is totally whatever you make of it! Prior to having their kid, did your friends hold the same views of parenting that you do and feel passionate at all about it? I wonder if maybe the way they’re doing it is basically in line with how they saw themselves doing it all along, as in, “it doesn’t have to be this way, this is the way they personally want it to be and/or this is what’s in their comfort zone”?

    • I think your ideals are very similar to ours and you give me a lot of hope that it can be done! Before having a kid one of our friends shared our views but is easily influenced by her partner. I think that’s hard – seeing someone who used to believe so strongly in things just kind of throw it out. She told us that because of their different work schedule they each have a lot of one on one time with their kiddo and not a lot of family time so they each parent how they want when they are around their kid. That seems like a great plan… You’re right though, for them, I think they are comfortable with the way things are and their daughter is happy and healthy and that’s what matters even if there are a few moments that make me gasp in disbelief. That’s why we left the midwest!

      • Yeah, I do have to say that we are not amongst very many like-minded folks here, although being in the metro area certainly helps. We are planning to move to the Pacific NW within the next year or two and one thing I am looking forward to is having a community that reflects our values/ideals a little more. It can be hard to be the odd one out. Our families certainly don’t help, they think we are crazy! But that is the typical midwestern attitude, so we try not to take it personally! πŸ™‚

        I think the fact that you two are both on the same page as each other will make it pretty easy to stick to your ideals. That is one of my favorite things about DW – even though we are different in so many ways, we have always been in agreement on all of the important stuff. And most of the not-so-important stuff as well.

      • Let me know when you want convincing to move to our little Oregon hippie town.

  6. I know what you mean. I don’t understand why people want you to abandon your parenting vision and philosophy. When I told my mom we didn’t want a bunch of plastic stuff, she said we’d change our mind and want/need all of those things. We also get a lot of “you should get disposables diapers too because you might decide cloth is too hard” You will be the parents you want to be and create a family and house that works for you. It will be different.

  7. I think the “you’ll change your mind” people are probably just rudely trying to express that you should be open to a wide variety of parenting ideas and not clinging to some ideology that might not end up working for your family. I purposefully did not read any parenting books before having Alice because I figured that I didn’t want to a) freak myself out and b) set myself up for failure thinking that there was one true way to parent. Parenting is humbling, and I have seen many friends and family members cling to a certain ideology/style/parenting guru and then when it doesn’t work they dig in harder, making life near impossible, and then feel like a failure. Stay flexible, keep your sense of humor. My one big thing was Disney princess crap; it was going to be my hill to die on. Well last weekend I went and bought her a princess bathing suit and in November we are going to Disneyworld to meet her favorite characters. I mean, I could cling to that, or I could indulge her in a little joy. I try not to go overboard (I put my foot down on the Disney Princess bedding for her new bed) but I don’t want her to feel like she is deprived either. And when I don’t make it a huge battle then sometimes she will choose something else. Somedays it is a princess movie and some days she wants to watch Doc McStuffins.

    With regards to the stuff, the key is to rotate toys around every month and donate, donate, donate. I swear the toys multiply at night. But you can stay on top of that stuff if you make an effort.

    • I have also not read any parenting books. Overall, I am open to people’s suggestions but not their negativity. I love to hear what worked for people and why. Or what the benefits and draw backs of doing something one way are but want to be respected in any choices we make. I don’t think people mean to be rude with giving their opinions but it is rude to not trust that we are going to do what we feel is best for our child. I agree with flexibility – my biggest thing is that I don’t want people coming back and saying “I told you so” because we realized we have to do things a different way. I’m sure at that point I will have no problem telling them off.

      I hear you about the princesses. That and toy guns are my biggest fears. But Alice is a happy kiddo and will still be a strong feminist like her mama.

  8. I feel the same way! Honestly, I don’t know if I have a pretty easy kid or if it’s just the choices that I make but we keep very few toys in our living space. He plays with the same toy all the time anyway and even if he “likes” a toy it doesn’t mean it adds anything to his life. The only thing I partially wish wasn’t sitting in our living room is his potty but the benefits of him using it make it totally worth it.
    I let him try almost any food I’m eating but usually there is something he would prefer that is a way healthier option like cheese or fruit. Sure he’ll eat a bowl of pudding if that is what I offer him (he’s never had pudding for the record) but if I offer him a mango he’d rather have that!

    We did change our mind about some things but it’s because it is what works for us and what we found worked for him. I wanted to cosleep forever but he didn’t enjoy it after 6 months and was having a tough time.

    I let people say whatever they want about my choices and i just continue to do what i want to do. Do what works best for you and don’t feel like you have to prove anything to anyone.

    Glad you had a good trip!

  9. I can agree with 100% certainty that it does not have to be like that. Being flexible with parenting plans is not the same thing as creating a completely child-centered, family-ignored existence. I think having strong role-models and good community for family-centered parenting makes a world of difference though – it’s easy to get bogged down in a community that isn’t supportive. Sounds like you’re in the right place!

  10. I kept wanting to reply but each comment kept getting better so – I like every single one of these comments and especially this post. We had a lot of “different” parenting ideas from those around us and when people try to sway us, we just say ‘different families, different rules’ because at the end of the day, we’re raising our kids and we want to feel good about doing it and that means doing it our way.

    We have a lot less space than our friends and family. Our kids have a strict toy limit – only birthdays and christmas and only one gift from each person in the family. That means right now, for birthdays, they get a whopping two gifts! We let everyone else spoil them and I never feel bad about keeping toys for later or simply donating things I wouldn’t want or they don’t need. Sometimes, we have ice cream for dinner. Always, we have vegetables. We’re not teaching them about religion. I teach them probably too much about The Queen of England and baseball.

    We make our own rules. We break our own rules. We never apologize for either. And you shouldn’t either! πŸ™‚

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