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Friday, August 31, 2012

Pregnancy Dreams vs Parenting Realities

When I was pregnant, I, like most soon-to-be moms, had this idealistic plan of how I would raise my child. 16 months into it, I've failed miserably at achieving those goals, but I still think I am a pretty damn good mother.

First thing I decided while pregnant, was that I was going to have a natural birth and there was no way I'd have a c-section at all unless absolutely medically necessary. Well, I ended up getting induced, and when my labor failed to progress from that I did have a c-section. I regret that choice, but you live and you learn, and my son came out a happy and healthy 8lbs 15oz, so maybe my c-section wasn't such a bad thing. There's always next time.

I also said I would nurse exclusively for the first year, and follow the pediatrician's recommendations to a T. Well, I nursed exclusively for 3 months, and introduced solids at 3 months rather than the recommended 6 months, and my son stopped nursing entirely at 6 months.

I swore my child would never eat fast food, but you know, sometimes we're out and about and the kid needs to eat something. Now I'm more about moderation. He occasionally has McDonald's, or a few bites of some Twizzlers, but that's okay because far more often he has baked chicken and broccoli or something of that nature.

I was also anti-television for my son. I never wanted him to watch television, let alone that "awful" children's programming that now passes as educational. However as a single mother, there are times when I really need to get things done around the house, and if that means letting him watch Cookie Monster or Elmo, so be it. He could be watching far worse and I need to provide him a clean and safe home to live in.

I swore I would never yell at my child, curse in front of him, or display any sort of behavior I didn't want him to emulate. But you know what? Accidents happen. I still feel horrible when I snap at him for having a tantrum, or let a "shit" slip out when I drop something, but I think overall it's the love and attention and affection he gets that while shape him into a man. Everyone slips sometimes, and while it's not ok to take my frustrations out on my son, it IS ok to let him know he's been bad and that I'm not pleased with his behavior.

Parenting is a learning process. My son is in the stage of transitioning from baby to child. He's learning so many things every day. Starting to talk, learning what he likes and dislikes, and developing a personality that is annoyingly similar to my own. However, he's not the only one who's learning. I'm learning from him every day. He's taught me patience. He's taught me how to control my emotions. He's taught me to find wonder in the littlest of things. As long as we keep learning from each other, and he's safe and loved, I can't beat myself up for not being quite as "perfect" as I thought I would be.