I'm a Different Mom than I Thought I'd Be


Before you're a parent, you make a list in your head of all the things you will do and be. And then you become a parent, and a strange thing happens. Some of the things you thought you'd do and be are totally true, but then there are other things you totally thought you'd care about that you just don't and other things you totally did not think you would care about that you discover you actually really do care about kind of a lot. I also feel like some of this has changed just after having my second child. I used to get so annoyed with all the talk about "first-time parents" being this or that way, but a lot of it was true for me! I do feel like I've loosened up a lot with the second kid.

I realize I'm only 2.5 years into parenting, with many years ahead of me filled with changes to my subconscious parenting list, but I have already experienced a few things that surprised me. (And of course it should be obvious, but the following are my personal opinions for my own motherhood and are not a reflection or comment on anything anyone else is doing.)

Cloth Diapering
I had every intention of doing cloth diapers. I even went to a (free) class at a local shop about it. I love a lot of things about it, and it honestly didn't freak me out to think of dealing with the dirty diapers. But once R came, we were so overwhelmed with having a newborn that figuring out cloth diapers just didn't feel like something I could handle, plus I think they recommend a baby be 10lbs or so before starting cloth diapers anyway. But then R started daycare, and I just couldn't handle the thought of dealing with cloth diapers along with all the other stuff I have to prepare for us to leave the house every day. And so cloth diapering fell to the bottom of the list and then just totally off it.

Jordan and I have both been shocked to discover that he is the one who freaks out and I am generally the calm one when one of the kids comes down with an illness. He's asking a million questions or demanding we head straight to the doctor, and I take a calmer approach. Now, I have my moments, of course, and that's not to say I don't get worried, but it's so strange that Jordan gets more worked up than I do! I expected it to be the other way around.

Speaking of sickness, I am certain this is a result of having R in daycare, but I am just totally not freaked out about germs. After you've seen your kid crawling around on the floor under the snack table eating the crumbs other kids have dropped, you just have to, as the song says, let it gooooo. We do wash hands and practice general hygiene, but there's only so much you can do, and thankfully I've been (mostly) able to just not think too hard about all the gross stuff the kids have touched and licked.

TV/Screen Time
We did our best to not let R get any screen time before she was two, per the recommendations by the Powers that Be who suggest these things, although she did love her Praise Baby DVDs, which was really cute. But now that she's getting older, I still really don't like to have the TV on at all, and that has honestly surprised me! I didn't think I would have an issue with it (within reason, of course), but I mostly try to have it turned off all the time. This isn't all that hard, actually, since we are gone all day at work and daycare. We rarely turn on the TV in the evenings, but even on the weekends I just feel like there are so many other things she can be doing beside watching TV. 

We've had the TV on a lot this last week because OLYMPICS, and while I do love the Olympics, I have found that I'm getting tired of the noise, tired of having the TV on, and if anything it's strengthened my feeling to keep her screen time as limited as possible. She still thinks our phones are only for making "funny faces" with the Instagram filters and looking at pictures of herself, and I like it that way. How long that will last, I don't know!

I am thankful to be able to nurse my babies with relatively little discomfort and issues (other than pumping, which is beside the point). I think nursing is great, and I'm happy to do it, but I don't love it like a lot of people talk about. I've fed both my babies with bottles, and honestly I feel just as much of a bond with them while bottle feeding as I do nursing, and with the former I don't have to mess up my outfit or have milk sprayed all over me. The first time nursing in the hospital with both R and J was honestly so special, and I do treasure that memory, but other than that, I more just like nursing because I'm lazy and cheap and don't want to wash bottles and buy formula. Also, it is freaking cool that my baby can grow because of nutrients I'm providing. But I was fine weaning R around 13 months and plan to wean J around the same!

Before I had kids, I honestly thought playing with a baby or toddler sounded terrible. I would see videos of moms playing trains with their kid and be like boooooooring. Obviously I assumed it would be different with my own kids, but I didn't realize how fun it actually is! I seriously love building towers with R and stacking blocks for J, and we have a lot of intentional play time that isn't boring at all. Sometimes it is boring, and sometimes I do just want R to play by herself, but mostly I am shocked by how much I enjoy hanging out with a 2-year-old. Don't make comments about what that says about my maturity level ;)

Everyone has a style for their kids, and I do have opinions about things I do and don't like, but in general I'm not all that picky about clothes for the kids, which is one thing that is not surprising since I'm not terribly picky about my own wardrobe. Most of J's closet is full of hand-me-downs from friends, and I love to shop consignment stores for anything else I need. The few things I thought I would be picky about I still was once I had kids: giant hair bows (hate it), shirts with annoying slogans/brand names on them (nope), and two-piece bathing suits for girl babies/toddlers (why).

A few other things that are not surprising for how I thought I would parent:
-We read lots of books
-We pray and talk about Jesus
-We used baby sign language before R could talk (and should really refresh so we can start some with J soon!)
-We travel with them (R went on 11 plane flights before she was 2, and we drive 3 hours to Texas regularly)

Those are just a few of the areas that stand out to me as I'm thinking about this post. I'm curious if any of you have things that surprised you (or didn't) about your parenting style once you became a mom!
Rachel said...

This is all still yet to be determined in my case, but I'm definitely interested to see what Angel's and my parenting personalities will be like! And of course parenting and what works for the family will change a good deal over time. One of our favorite family jokes is about how different my parents are with my littlest sisters in comparison to how they were with the first three of us!

Maureen @ Maureen Gets Real said...

This is really interesting! I'm really curious now what my list of things like this will be like when I have kids.

Laura J said...

I honestly thought I'd be a lot stricter with the kid than I really am. I love when he learns something on his own ( don't mess around on your step stool or you'll fall off) without me hovering around him.

Christina said...

Loved reading this! :) I'm only 12 weeks in with Anna, but definitely relating! I'm the same way about breastfeeding (although we both have thrush right now and I threaten formula every day because I'm dramatic like that). I think I was most surprised about how complex my emotions about breastfeeding would be. I wasn't thrilled about it during pregnancy (but loved that it was free and slimming) and struggled a lot during the first two weeks, and on average, really wish there was another alternative that didn't consume our time or money, but now I have this weird need to provide for her or fear that if I stop, she'll be sad, even though my brain is telling me she'll be absolutely fine. I guess this is mom guilt?!

P.S. in the same "thought camp" with you on cloth diapering and playtime haha

Unknown said...

I am not a germ freak but I am now just getting annoyed because we just keep getting sick in this darn weather! I need to get on sign language with Nolan, too. Oops! I don't like big bows, but I do use bows to keep A's hair out of her face ha. TV time, well, I lost that one. It's on in the morning when she wakes up and we cuddle to a show or two, but unless she's just beside herself at some point like sickness or something, we rarely watch anymore. We have had it on more lately with The Olympics, but I try not to have it on anymore. However, Aaron doesn't mind it and sometimes I just can't fight him at night when he wants to have some cuddles with A. We did watch quite a bit of Christmas movies, ha. You know my feelings on breastfeeding! And clothes, ha. Consignment and hand me downs all the way!

Callie said...

This was a fun post to read! I will say that that I like two-piece bathing suits (appropriate ones that cover their tummies), because they are so much easier to deal with when it comes to bathroom trips!

The Lady Okie said...

Yes! I should have clarified. If it covers their tummies that's okay, but I don't like bikini-type suits on little girls! I found R a suit last year that was a one piece but it buttoned at the bottom and that was perfect for the bathroom!

Amie said...

I thought for sure I would be the stern parent and I try to be but he just listens to his daddy better. Guess I will save that stern part for the teenage years! haha I love all of this! I never really had any thoughts ahead of time about anything because it took us so long to have him. I just always felt like I would just figure it out. I did the same with giving birth, I took zero classes and didn't even really read anything about giving birth and that was the easiest part of my entire pregnancy.

Maria said...

Oh gosh. I will try to keep this short. I feel like I'm on the same page with you on all of these. I had thought about cloth diapering (I did so much research), I hate logos and slogans on her clothes, and big bows and two piece bikinis on toddlers aren't my cup of tea either. I go back and forth on screen time. I don't want to make it into this forbidden fruit and then have it backfire to where she's obsessed with it, but I also don't want it to be an everyday thing, which is easy because we never turn it on unless she's in bed. So, we'll see how that one goes as she gets older. I have let her watch a few short baby sign language videos on my computer and she lost interest in about a minute. I cannot wait until she's old enough for family movie nights though.

What I didn't expect was to co-sleep (and bottled feed, but you knew that)! I really really didn't want to start that habit, but it formed and here we are with her sleeping in our bed at least half the night. I wouldn't have ever tried if it we didn't have the Dock a Tot, so I have a love/hate relationship with that thing. I expected to have her in our room for the first year, but I'm toying with the idea of having her sleep in her room around 8 months to see if she'll sleep better. We'll see how that goes...hold me.

Nadine said...

I am not near as bad with illness and germs as I thought I would be. I usually remain pretty calm, and Chris is the one who freaks out. And you are so right, playing with them is a lot of fun!!!

Audrey Louise said...

I feel strongly about cloth diapering (I love the idea of it) but obviously I have NO idea if I'll follow through. Ha. K hates the idea of it so we'll have to see what happens some day... :) I don't freak out about germs now and I can handle blood/puke/body function but K cannot. I'm hoping he bucks up a bit when we have a kid. Lol

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

I can relate to so many of these points! I'm kind of weird about screen time too. And I feel guilty as hell if they watch too much of it. They watch it in the morning and in the evening for about an hour or little more. When I see kids these days just glued to screens I can't help but cringe. But, I try not to judge either! To each their own. I highly did not like BF like some people really enjoy it. No thanks! Michael and I are the same as you and Jordan with sicknesses. But germs... I never was a germ freak like I am now that I have kids!

The Girl who Loved to Write said...

It surprised me how laid back I was! Both about things you mentioned here and other stuff. I am naturally a worrier, so it was a welcome surprise.

Jenny Evans said...

Same as you about clothes with slogans and brands on them. And bikinies for babies and toddlers WITH TRIANGLES for their... their what? I don't know. If Western civilization ever crumbles, that's probably the reason.

Rach said...

This was a fun post! It's always interesting to see how people evolve in their parenting as their babies grow into toddlers and as they add to their family. We're still first time parenting over here with a tiny one so there hasn't been much that has been different than I expected so far. I imagine as she gets older there will be more things that stand out for sure!

Jen said...

You're definitely right! I think all parents have a list in their heads of things they will and won't do. I always thought I would be such a panicked parent, but I'm much more laid back.

Amy @ A Desert Girl said...

Great post! It is so interesting how we evolve as parents. I am MOSTLY the parent I thought I would be, but definitely way more chill with the second kid. I too hate big bows. I think bikini style swimsuits on toddlers are creepy. I am as freaked out by germs as I thought I’d be (but admittedly better with the second kid). I did plan
to have the TV on way less than I currently do, but the spica kind of forced my hand on that and now it’s still on a lot but she doesn’t sit and stare at it. She plays constantly, occasionally glancing at the screen. I actually kind of like that she’s around some noise and stimulation since we don’t do daycare and I am way less into play dates during the winter (see germ analysis above). My in laws let her watch videos on their phones (grrr - not happy about that) and it was crazy how she reacted to those. It was like she was really hyped up and moody when she was watching them but when they’d try to take it away she’d freak out. I told them no more small screens and I think we’re past it now.

Sarah @ Sometimes Photojenik said...

This is so so interesting to me! Especially how you’re the one that’s calmer when they get sick. I wonder with both of us in the medical field who will be more anxious- I would imagine I would but reading your experience now I’m not so sure! Also- I’m so fascinated by the fact that you’ve found limited screen time so easy. That’s something I hope for but it seems so difficult! You give me hope saying that you actually like playing with them because sometimes I dread it; i just remember what it was like playing with the kids I babysat and always wishing they would go to bed so I could get on MySpace hahaha. I too have aspirations for cloth diapers but i guess I we’ll see. I loved this post- thanks for sharing!

Sarah @ Sometimes Photojenik said...

Oh and one more thing... I don’t care about germs (let them eat dirt) and Alex is the exact opposite. It’s a very heated debate in our house to the point we’ve both researched studies to prove our point. When we have kids- may the best woman win ;) haha

Unknown said...

Hmmm I may have to write my own post like this because I honestly don't know what to say! I really want to think about it!

Betsy said...

I'm with you on the breastfeeding thing. I either thought I'd love it as the most magical bonding experience, or it would be really hard and I'd question my abilities as a mother - you seem to hear a lot about those two extremes. But I'm somewhere in the middle, a place I didn't know existed. It's pretty easy for us, but it's equally easy (if not easier, tbh) to pump (which I don't mind, though I know a lot of women do) or give him a bottle of formula. Hm!