The Underwear Fairy, and 8 Other Things You Never Thought You’d Say Before You Had Kids
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You had it all figured out. You would breastfeed your baby, use only cloth diapers, make your own baby food from organic products and never, never spank, bribe or say any of the silly things your parents said to you. Okay, maybe that was my list of mommy goals, but we all have it in our minds that we’re going to do a much better job of this parenting thing than the previous generation, and so we make a similar list of things we will and won’t do with our kids. My list started to fray around the edges about 6 months after the birth of my second boy.
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Don’t Slap Your Cheese!
Did that just come out of my mouth? It did. I confess I did utter those words once. Small children are learning every day and the nuances of table manners aren’t always quickly learned. Before venturing out for a restaurant meal with the in-laws, you’ll want to reinforce the importance of sitting still, using their indoor voice, no whining and definitely no abuse of sliced dairy products.
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I Have the Easter Bunny’s Phone Number
I have Santa Claus’ and the Tooth Fairy on speed dial too. Once or twice, I threatened to make a phone call about misbehaving children. Sorry kids, Mom has told a few untruths over the years, it would seem.
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What kind of inconsiderate, Earth-destroying jerk litters the planet with paper diapers? Me, that’s who. When I gave birth to my first child, we lived in an apartment above a shop along a busy street and had no laundry facilities. Undaunted, I phoned up several diaper services and spent a hormonal afternoon crying my eyes out when I was told they didn’t deliver to my area due to lack of parking spaces for the truck. I dried my eyes and carried on. My child’s planet was at stake, after all, and I was eventually rewarded with a service that would come.
My next hurdle, six months later, was finding a day care provider who would agree to work with cloth diapers. I finally gave up after I had a second son 15 months after the first. We moved to a townhouse and purchased a washer and dryer, which was wonderful, but after months of washing diapers for two babies (one of which had constant diaper rash) and nightly soaked beds and pajamas, I threw in the towel… and the diapers. Please forgive me, little blue planet.
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Eat Your Candy!
My little darlings would be eating nothing but home prepared foods created from the most natural and nutritious sources available – that was the plan. That theory fell apart when I was blessed with a super fussy eater. He wouldn’t eat anything unless I mixed it with yogurt. One day, he learned to sort the veggies from the yogurt with his tongue and spit them out. So ended that fantastic plan!
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What Are the Best Toys for a Funeral?
I’m pretty sure this would be considered bribery, something I am in theory opposed to, but I found myself resorting to this tactic more and more as my kids grew (and increased in number).
Once, when my husband and I were going to attend an interment for a family member and all I could imagine was my 2 high energy preschool boys climbing every tombstone and wrestling during the graveside service. I needed some form of insurance, something to increase my odds of getting through this stressful event without adding humiliation to my grief. Two brand-new-in-the-package superhero toys were the answer. The toys remained in the car until the service was over, and many raised eyebrows and reminders from me later, they earned their prizes. I earned a glass of wine.
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The Clean House… I Have Heard They Exist
All the beds were made, the floors were crumb-free, toys put away and the bathroom sparkled because that, my friends, is the perfect environment in which to raise kids. Five children and one too many spilled bowls of Cheerios made me rethink my priorities. Keeping my house in magazine cover condition was threatening my sanity and so I let go of a lot of things. That departure from my original list of parenting must-dos I am very proud of!
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The Tale of the Underwear Fairy Is Seldom Told
This too might be considered bribery, but I like to think of it as more of a reward. Either way, it seemed pretty brilliant to me at the time.
One of my sons, long past potty training age, had a series of relapses of the number two variety and I was desperate for a solution. I told him that if he managed to keep things clean for 7 days in a row, he could put his undies under the pillow and the Underwear Fairy would bring him a prize. Well, he was absolutely thrilled with the huge Transformer toy he had been wanting! However, I didn’t know what to say when I heard what his best friend said to him a while later: “I put my underwear under my pillow but I never got anything.” Uh oh.
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You’re Not Watching That!
Children should only be watching wholesome and educational — and certainly not scary — TV programs or movies. To a certain degree, I still believe that, but I learned to loosen up a bit after a while. I learned, that with guidance, most subjects are an opportunity for discussion. That said, I made sure my then 10-year-old eldest son never watched those horrendous Jackass films. What preteen boy needs more ideas for unsafe activities?
“I’ve seen it 4 times already, Mom,” he told me one day. I had forgotten that his friends’ houses have TV too.
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My Kids Aren’t Angels
As a mom-to-be and even later, I was under the mistaken impression that my children would all turn out perfectly because of how I parented them. Other people’s little monsters suffered from a lack of proper care and training. I also thought one size fits all. When my eldest boy was 2 years old, he was quiet and well behaved. Never gave me an ounce of trouble. I watched my nephew of a similar age challenge his parents on daily basis and I thought to myself, my little boy never does that.
Enter my second son. My smug attitude quickly disappeared when this blond-headed little dickens threw spectacular tantrums and slapped other toddlers at the library more than once. He is 23 years old now – I wonder if we’re still banned from the toy lending center?
I like what Reese Witherspoon said: “I feel very blessed to have 2 wonderful, healthy children who keep me completely grounded, sane and throw up on my shoes just before I go to an awards show just so I know to keep it real.” Go ahead and make your list, but don’t be afraid to adjust it along the way because parenting is more of an art than a science.