“I can hardly remember a kid-free life. I look back, and it all seems like a blur. I was never a big party girl, and I never had to be with a crowd of people to validate myself. I guess, in a way, I remember certain things. But a baby didn’t really put a kink in any plans I had, because I was already so adjusted to a pretty matured lifestyle. I have a somewhat decent recollection of life before kids. Always trying to impress people, do the right things. I remember being carefree and not having many responsibilities. Trying to take everyone’s advice and put it to good use for my future. But I could’ve never prepared myself for all the things in my life I didn’t have answers for.
When I became pregnant with Jaxon, I received all sorts of unsolicited advice on how I should raise him. That’s a large portion I do remember. You know, what I should do if he doesn’t sleep. If I should or shouldn’t circumcise him. How I should react when he gets his first stomach bug. What and when to feed him. Where the best pediatricians were. Whether or not I should breastfeed. Staying home with him or working full-time. How our sleeping arrangements should be. All the stuff people seem to think they know best about.
I’m going to tell you a few things about what motherhood has taught me, and if by the end of this post, it has made a momma or two out there a little more at ease about her choices, then I’ve done my job here today.
My oldest son was an excellent sleeper his entire first year. I was a heavily scheduled, run a tight-ship type mom. To be honest, I still am. Jax was an ideal sleeper. I’m talking 13+ hours of straight sleep. We never had a problem. I was one of those moms who thought, ‘Well, HA! I can brag about my kid because he’s super cool and doesn’t keep me awake all night.’ I even KIND OF already wanted another because of how simple he was. Yeah…no.
My toddler became a f—ing religious nightmare. He is fantastic at putting himself to bed. When he’s ready to go ‘night night,’ he comes and tells me. We walk to his room, and he gives his daddy and me a hug and a kiss and he puts himself to sleep in a twin bed. He doesn’t fight it, he doesn’t need me to read to him, and he doesn’t need anyone in the room to accompany him. He’ll sleep from about 7:45 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Then he wants to be awake the rest of the night.
He flips around in the bed like a fish out of water. I’m not talking about wake-up-and-cry awake, I’m talking about getting up-and-coming-into-our-bedroom-scaring-the-living-crap-out-of-us awake. We peacefully put him back to bed, and he climbs out again. Of course, he climbs over my husband, and he never even notices. That’s just a speed bump to get to the one who will actually awaken from their slumber. MOMMA. It’s gotten better over the last few months because he has very much matured in the bedtime area, but he still wakes up a few times a night.
You might think this means more sleep for me now. Wrong. If he ever wakes himself up, I have to watch the video baby monitor like a hawk until he falls back asleep to make sure I catch him if he attempts to get up. I want to instill in him there is no reward for him getting out of that bed. Am I dreaming? Probably. I could just be completely and 110% dog-a** tired, I don’t know. No kid is perfect. Their sleep habits suck. It’s normal. Expect it. And don’t get your hopes up when they’re finally doing good and sleeping through the night. It’s only a matter of time before the next nocturnal waves begin.
I bottle-fed my son. I didn’t even try breastfeeding. GASP! I know. I didn’t want to. I didn’t have to. I had literally no desire in my bones to have a child eating all his meals from my boob. Plus, he was a 9 lb. baby. Do you honestly think my breastmilk would have been enough for him? Doubtful. No one out there is going to tell me how to feed my baby.
I have a best friend who comes to my house and breastfeeds right in front of me. Because guess what? I don’t care! I don’t care how she feeds her baby, and she knows that. It’s awesome if she wants to breastfeed. She can feed the kid milk out of the carton. I don’t care! Not my kid, not my business. She’s the one who is raising him. It’s her decision. Let me clear this up for anyone who may be questioning it. You don’t get to choose what’s right for someone else’s child. Leave them ALONE. Especially if they are a first-time mom.
I weaned my son off the pacifier about 6 months ago. I stopped letting him have it during the day cold turkey. He did great. My kiddo never really NEEDED the pacifier, we just kind of gave it to him to keep him quiet when he got a little fussy. The days have been awesome. He never shows he even remembers he had one during the day. But yet again, he was never a big ‘rely on the pacifier’ guy.
But let me just say this…if I was to try and take it away from him when he goes to bed, total HELL would break loose in this household. He doesn’t even suck on it! He just squeezes it like it’s a security item. He loses them in the bed and freaks out, and I have to run in there and give him another 5 of them before he starts wailing and wakes himself up. In all seriousness, I think he believes it’s a security item to squeeze on.
When he gets up in the morning and I make his bed, he has about 30 pacifiers under the sheet. I have to dig them all out and put them into a basket. Yes, there are that many. I don’t know when he’ll fully not need one, and I really don’t care. I try to remember he’s only a few months away from being 3. A single-digit number. Still partially a baby. He still relies on me for pretty much everything, and if the pacifier in his hand soothes him to sleep, then I will buy stock in them until he is sixteen. So what if they need it in the grocery store? So what if they walk and talk and still use it? So what if they need it all freaking day? So what if they’re 5 and still love their wubanub? WHO. REALLY. CARES. Who is it killing? I can think of a million other things in the world worse than a kid having a pacifier. They WILL grow out of it.
I was once in the check-out line at Walmart when the woman behind the register told me I was spoiling my son because I gave him the candy he was screaming for. Okay, seriously? You would rather hear my toddler shriek and cry over not getting a pack of Twix than me just hand it to him so everyone in the store can have their peace? And I assure you, if I didn’t give it to him, he would cry all the way out of those automatic double doors and probably through the parking lot.
Please do not tell me I am spoiling my child. I know I am spoiling him. I don’t care that I’ve spoiled him. It’s keeping what is left of my sanity intact so I don’t jump the cash register and strangle you with your green ‘May I help You?’ vest. Jaxon has been an only child for almost 3 years. What are the odds he’s going to think he can get what he wants when he wants it? I can’t really say I blame him because I’ve had no one else to buy for. If we go to the store, he’s probably getting a toy, or candy, or a balloon. If it gets me through one more grocery trip so I can get enough coffee to survive another week, then throw that lightsaber in the buggy, kiddo. If you say you don’t spoil your kids somehow, you are lying. Just like I know you pee in the shower.
I never co-slept. My son slept in a swing next to the couch for the first 3 weeks of his life because we were learning a feeding routine. Then, I put him in his crib and never looked back. I’m thankful he was a crib sleeper. It worked for us. I had busted my pregnant butt on that nursery, and by God, he was going to sleep in it. I did worry about him during the night, but I knew it was a perfectly natural feeling for a mother.
My son has never needed me or a stuffed animal in bed with him. But if he did, would it really be the worst thing? I mean, eventually, he will grow up and not need me like he does now. I don’t think sharing a bed is going to royally screw up any child. Just always know the safe way to do it. I know people who sleep with their kids, and they are happy that way. They make it work. It’s their way of getting some rest, and that’s perfectly okay. I get to rest with my kid across the house, in his own room, and that’s okay, too. We are all just trying to make it. Do what works for you and be grateful it does. Any sleep you get while you have children is good sleep.
‘I can’t believe they are allowing their kid to scream like that in public.’ Only someone with no kids or a parent with a child who has not quite made it to the insanely vocal stage would actually mutter that phrase. It is normal for babies to cry. It is normal for toddlers to cry. And it is normal for older kids to get upset and throw insane fits in the middle of the aisle at Walmart. It’s part of life. If you don’t want to hear a toddler have a tantrum, don’t go out into the world. I’m not going to drop what I’m doing and leave the store or food establishment because hearing my child scream makes you uncomfortable.
Am I embarrassed? Obviously. Will I try to shut him up? Of course. But when it comes to the comprehension and attention span of a strong-willed two-year-old, the odds are not really ever in my favor. Occasionally, we get lucky and I find a way to soothe his anger, but rarely. You have a right to make your own life decisions and are entitled to your opinion. I chose to have a child. He’s not perfect, and he does get overly emotional about things like butter packets being sealed and food being too hot to eat right when it comes out. He’s a toddler.
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the odds of you being a little a**hole when you were two are probably pretty good. I will always do my best to keep my children well-behaved in public places, but please understand it doesn’t always go that way. Try giving the mother in Costco with the pissed-off toddler and screaming newborn a pat on the back. Tell her she’s doing a good job and stop judging from afar. Odds are, she’s probably not getting much rest right now. Hint: the fact she has both her kids at the grocery store with her.
I’ve been pretty fortunate as far as being able to stay at home with my son. I’ve worked a little, been in school for my doctorate, and also done absolutely nothing. Being home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’m surrounded by toddler talk and annoying cartoons pretty much 24/7. When I need to get something done, I have a two-year-old bugging me constantly. Every task takes 3 times longer than it should. Things that should take me 5 minutes take half the day. The laundry, the dishes, making beds, dusting, mowing. Yep, you can bet my child is right there behind me. I love him to pieces. He’s the best helper in the world. He loves to vacuum and wipe up spills. I’ve taught him well. But he’s still a relentless little fart.
I don’t get much adult time. I can count the times I’ve been away from him on one hand. Yes, it’s a blessing and a curse. Granted, I don’t like to go out and drink or see crazy late-night movies, so a lot of times it doesn’t really bother me much. I’m not big on going and spending the day at the mall. It’s not my thing. To be honest, I don’t feel like I miss much. I mean, I have the best job in the world, right? Seeing my kid grow each day. Ha! I really just enjoy lying in bed with a glass of cheap wine, watching something good on Netflix while my kid slumbers in his bed. And so help me God if you ever wake him up.
I have friends who love to go out. I have friends who still get plastered on Friday nights. I have friends who enjoy not getting out of their pajamas all week. And I have friends who enjoy nights away from their kids. I also have friends who work all week at a job, only to come home and still have a huge pile of laundry to do and a crying baby to take care of. Both sides of the court are hard to play. You can work at home, and you can work out of the home. The job is never done. I am tired all the time.
There’s not enough time in the day to do all I need to do, and my husband works late every single night. I have no time for myself, my hair stays crammed in a messy bun, and I’m too pregnant to bend over when I clean, so I’m constantly doing this awkward caveman squat. I have no babysitters because my family is in Texas. If you have any sort of help with your kids, take it. Be grateful you have what you do and never abuse it. It’s a very difficult task to take it all on by yourself. You are only one person. Either way, we are all equally as exhausted.
I can attest to the fact that staying at home is not an easy job to have. But you are not a negligent parent because you chose your career. And maybe you didn’t choose the career. Maybe financially you didn’t have the option of giving it up. Maybe you have an agreement with your spouse that you won’t stay home full-time. That’s perfectly okay. We often don’t get the luxury of CHOOSING our children first anymore. Sometimes, it’s either have a stable income and a nice home or stay home and move into a cheap rent house. Not everyone can have both. We SHOULD be able to, but not anytime soon in this world.
No matter which, you’re still a good mom. Whether you love being a stay-at-home or you hate it. Whether you work every day or work part-time. You are still giving yourself every day to make life better for yourself and your family. All the while maintaining and taking on your motherly duties. And you do it without complaint. That’s what really matters. Try to remember it is never the size of the luxuries. Always the size of the heart. Your kids will be strong because you are strong.
We are currently potty training. If you’ve ever had to potty train a speech-delayed child, it’s like staring into the gates of fiery hell. My son has come a long way in the last year. He wasn’t picking up words or sentences by age 2, and we were getting pretty concerned. Communication is key in potty training, otherwise, it’s very difficult.
The more I talked to other parents, the more I started feeling like Jax was somewhat behind. I, of course, immediately panicked and had his hearing checked again, which was normal. I went to Dollar Tree and bought out the education aisle. Something that was supposed to be about potty training turned into full-on intervention for speech therapy. We started working on his letters and numbers, and he picked them up almost instantly. It was like a breath of fresh air. He started singing his ABCs and asking us short questions. He’s still learning, don’t get me wrong. But we have really come far from where he used to be.
Anyway, back to the potty training. So I’ve stated my kid is almost 3, right? Well, he does pretty well…when he wants to. He mastered the peeing part fairly fast (yet again, when he wants to), but we aren’t quite to the whole #2 thing yet. We bought him the frog potty with the propeller that spins, and right away he took to it. Some days he’s peeing in the potty, other days he’s peeing on my floor. Right now, he’s just going to his room, shutting the door, and not saying anything about having to go when the other urge strikes. He obviously knows he needs to be doing it in private.
I’ve cleaned up more attempts at potty training than I can count. I see all my mom friends working with their toddlers, and they seem to be dealing with the same things. I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that he will learn when he is truly ready. It’s going to be messy, gross, and very tedious, but I know he will get it down. He’s a smart boy. He is set to start pre-k in the next school year, and I’m holding out hope he will be fully trained by then if we hit it hard after the holidays.
All in all, he’s learning just like every other toddler out there. Some are trained at 2, and some aren’t fully trained until they turn 5. It just depends on their motivation, comprehension, and desire to actually do it. If your child isn’t on the level of readiness quite yet, you are not a lazy parent. You aren’t falling behind. You aren’t doing anything wrong. Every kid is 100% different. Don’t expect them to all learn at the same pace. Especially things that involve working and controlling their little private parts. Potty training will eventually be a distant memory for all of us. Oh, what a glorious day that will be! When cleaning dirty butts and finding a place to dispose of the smelliest diapers in the world so they don’t stink up the entire house is a thing of the past.
Motherhood is an everyday trial. It’s hard. It’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. We need to start building other mothers up instead of tearing them down for their choices or situations. No mom is perfect. I would like to think I do a pretty decent job at parenting and disciplining my kid, but unfortunately, I’m probably still raising an a**hole. They will learn over time. It’s really okay if everything isn’t perfect. We are all struggling. We are all tired. And we are all still learning day by day.
I’m about to give birth to another son any day now, and I still don’t have any of this figured out. I’ve read books, articles, ads, and magazines on this whole parenting s*** show. You can Google search, ‘how to put a stop to tantrums,’ and read Pinterest’s ‘ways to calmly speak to your child on their level’ until your little heart gives out, but I promise, your kid is not doing anything mine isn’t or hasn’t already done.
You are not alone in your miserable days when you want to pull your hair out. It’s normal that you’ve thought about walking out without packing a bag and not looking back. Kids do that to you. And you are in good company. Nothing you do will change that your child is a child. Continue to do what you are good at. Be a shoulder to cry on when they are sad and the keeper of the overly-sugared chocolate chip granola bars. Be their security. Be their guidance, because, Lord only knows, in this world, they will need it. Be their comfort. Be a Sonic Happy Hour date. But most of all, just keep being their mother. It’s a job you could never fail at.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Molly Claypool of Life Unscripted. Follow her journey on Instagram here and her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Molly here:
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