There is nothing in this world quite like that naïve planning and preparation for the arrival of our first child. During those months (sometimes years) of self-indulgence, we dream and plan our future children, their peaceful early years filled with laughter and slobbery kisses, their precocious elementary career, drama-less junior high years and rigorous college preparatory high school schedules all culminating in their valedictorian speech, where our precious child credits us, their perfectly manicured and coiffed beaming parents, for their success.
We've all read numerous what-to-expect books ranging on topics from pregnancy and sleep rituals to discipline. In fact, many of us are so well-read that we could qualify as guest experts on a Dr. Phil parenting panel. These books form a large, colorful tapestry, which we strap on our backs and prepare to jump from our childless years into the great unknown of parenthood.
Oftentimes, it isn't until our willful toddler is rolling around and screaming on the floor of Trader Joe's that we realize 1-2-3 Magic just isn't going to work in that situation -- our parachute is full of holes and we are plummeting into reality.
So before we land with a thud and share our trials and anecdotes, we would first like to share those dreams with you. Those dreams fostered and nurtured in our hearts and then lovingly, gingerly transferred to our independent children, who clearly have ideas of their own. Below is a list of our top opinions and dreams. We invite you to share your pre-child hopes, dreams, opinions and ideas with us, too. Let us all take a moment to reminisce about those simpler, naïve times...
1. I WILL be able to juggle it all.
2. I was going to be a combination of Claire Huxtable and Mary Poppins. I would not only be a working, intelligent mother, but I would magically inspire my children to clean their rooms and motivate them to behave with my singing. I would have four girls, who would sing "Well done, Sister Suffragettes" while writing letters to government officials.
3. My kids should not go to daycare, because if we are apart for a long period of time our bond will not be strong.
4. My children would only listen to age appropriate music, play with age appropriate toys and watch age appropriate television. Though my daughter grew up listening to Ralph's World, playing with expensive wooden toys and only watching one episode of Teletubbies, my youngest learned his opposites from Katy Perry's Hot N' Cold song and learned social rules from Spongebob.
5. Absolutely everything must be thoroughly disinfected before it touches my child.
6. I truly believed that each age would continue to be my favorite, that I would never yearn for the tight grasp of perpetually sticky tiny fingers within mine, that I would never want to return to the days of night-time feedings and diaper changes, that I would never miss the slobbery kisses of a cold-ridden toddler and the way she/he would use me as a tissue. But I do, and I always shall.
7. My children will never speak disrespectful to me and certainly NEVER in public.
8. Labor and delivery would be a spiritual bonding experience between my husband (Big Daddy) and I.
Reality: Labor and delivery was 24 hours of insanity, where my husband was exposed to screaming, crying, sweating, vomiting, and parts of my nether regions that have never seen daylight.
9. There will be no need to yell at my children, because I will always be patient.
10. I would have a lucrative and rewarding career and be a tree hugging earth mother, only feeding my child organic foods and giving him only educational toys.
Reality: I haven't worked in 2 years, and my 2 year old's favorite foods consist of anything on the Portillo's menu
11. I will have a clean house. All the time. I mean, what else do I have to do?
12. My husband and I would spend evenings gazing adoringly at Baby C in his crib, feeling closer than ever.
Reality: As soon as he's in bed we open a bottle of wine.Then Big Daddy usually falls asleep in front of the computer while searching Realtor.com for unattainable luxury vacation homes. I avoid the dishes and snuggle under a blanket while watching Lifetime.