There were many things I used to judge parents for doing. As a young twenty-something, I remember being at a house concert, making small talk with other guests. I remember asking a mother of four, one still small enough to wear in a small, supportive carrier when she planned to return to her career. She gave me a blank stare as she held her newborn. That stare was kind, in retrospect. If parenting one or two kids is a full-time job, just do the math for four or more. With each year, I find myself doing all the things younger me judged so readily. Here are nine that made me laugh as I recalled them. I hope they do the same for fellow moms and parents.
My child will only eat organic homemade foods
Fruit snacks and Z Bars may save your life in a pinch. You will try so hard with the fruits and veggies. But, you will let your kid go wild with sugar on holidays and not regret a minute.
My child will have zero screen time under age five
One word: airplanes
My child will be sleep trained
You know you are a total attachment parent: admit it, accept it, move on! No one way to do sleep is the end all be all. Safe co-sleeping, sleep training, ferbering—whatever works, mama!
I will NEVER lose my cool at my child in public, or ever
Have you ever shopped or been outside the house during nap time with a toddler?! Dual meltdowns—yours and his—followed by tears, hugs, and when you get home at last, dual naps! It happens.
I will be so laid back, not a helicopter, anxious mom
Your child will have special needs… You will be a mama bear and that’s what he will need. Sometimes your tips and schedule for babysitters may be three pages long, and they will thank you, and even ask more questions, because he is so very sweet, but also may need more care than some other kids.
I will have a car full of happy, creative, go with the flow, yet still advanced children
Having one child feels like three jobs sometimes. Your three-year-old is an only, and you and your husband are always on the fence about another, maybe until your fertility bids you farewell.
I’ll wear cute, stylish shoes, not those hideous padded sneakers
Mom jeans and mom shoes will be back anyway, you lucky mama. Rock your newly chic “belt bag”—known in the ’90s as the dreaded fannypack. Add that vintage velour tracksuit and initial necklace. They pair well with the memory foam sneakers that teens right now can’t get enough of. Any other mamas thrilled about the current trends? Except for those crop tops all over, those can go, thanks. You can be hip and comfy at the same time. (And if you someday aren’t rocking the au courant look, you won’t care.)
I will work full time, cook and clean my stylish home and make time for my marriage too
That baby smell will change everything, totally irresistible. You will quit your job after about a year of cobbling together childcare and constantly questioning your decisions. You will long to hold that sweet child of yours and just cuddle whenever you both want. This decision will mean your family income will be slashed in half and it will be rocky at first. Your new home will be filled with marketplace finds instead of Restoration Hardware bespoke pieces, but you will eventually come to peace with a paired down, simple life. And for that balanced marriage and parenting life? You may always struggle to find balance between mama, wife, and everything else, but together, your family will work hard to find a rhythm.
I will always stay marathon fit
You will have postpartum everything. There will be job loss right before a global pandemic. There will be medical challenges for you and your spouse. There will be shuffling and attending multiple speech therapy sessions every week with your sweet baby. You will sometimes eat to get that burst of energy and be pleasant and feel happy and, therefore, keep your family afloat, but it will eventually be ok! There probably won’t be any 26.2 races with a baby in the stroller in your near future. Someday, you will begin to feel like working out again, when you are ready.
To all the moms and parents I judged before I became one too: I’m sorry! You are the superhero your family needs. Don’t let the people who simply don’t understand tear you down. Often, those judging, just don’t know better. Be patient with the other 20 something-year-olds. The blank stare that mom of four at the concert gave me said it all. “Someday, you will understand.” And now I laugh, from the comfort of my old couch, in my mom jeans.