I assume that as parents, we all sort of look at our lives as split into two distinct time frames – before kids, and after kids. And while I’m not saying I would ever choose one over the other (that’s not true — I’d go with the kids), they are inarguably different. Before I had a son of my own, I spent a lot of time thinking and wondering about what kind of mom I would be. I had a lot of experience with kids, and even worked for a year as a nanny, but I knew none of that translated into being an actual parent.
I assumed a lot of my inherent personality traits would carry over into parenthood – like it or not. My neat freak tendencies, anxiety and worries, tendencies to overschedule and overplan – surely I’d continue to do all of this. What I have found is that parenthood has surprised me in ways I couldn’t have predicted.
My name is Emily, and my car is covered in Cheerios.
Before you have kids, it is easy to assume you won’t be “that mom” and you won’t do “those things.” And while you will probably stick to your guns on some of it, other things will suddenly seem much less important in the bigger picture.
Here are all the different “moms” I didn’t think I’d be, that of course I’ve ultimately become. Let me preface by saying that there is nothing wrong with any of these – like I said, these are all things that I do. But it’s funny to think about how naive I was before, and how different things are now.
The Mom Who Lets Her Son Get Really Messy
I have always been a bit of a neat freak, and in some respects that hasn't changed. I still can't stand to leave toys strewn everywhere - I pick them up every night before Cullen goes to bed. I make our bed every morning, adjust the pillows on the couch all day long, and I have a constant stream of laundry rotating in and out of our bedrooms. Sadly, these tidy tendencies don't carry over to all places in the house. Our sink is always full of dishes, my closet has a heap of clothes on the floor, and our car is just plain scary.
So the point of all of this is that I thought I would be really bothered by the giant messes that tend to follow toddlers wherever they go. And while yes, I do pick up his toys, most of the time I'm so happy to see him having fun that I don't care if it means a little extra cleanup or laundry at the end of my day. I laugh because I really thought I'd be freaked out by dirt, mud, sand, sticky food, boogers - all that good stuff. And these days I feel like I hardly notice it.
We were at the playground the other day and Cullen plopped down in the dirt and started picking up handfuls of it like he would do at the beach. The sun was shining, it was 70 degrees outside, and we were hanging out with friends - I couldn't have been happier. I knew that him playing in the dirt meant he'd need a new outfit after his afternoon nap, but who cares? I don't spend a lot of money on his clothes (in part for this reason!), and I'm happy to let him get a little messy as he learns to explore and discover the world around him. However sticky and icky it might be.