Five Things I Swore I Would Never Do When I Had a Child

There were many things I swore I would never do before I had a baby.

Most of them were things that other people did that unintentionally annoyed me, as someone who was desperate for a baby, and as a member of the public frequently forced to take public transport.  Others were merely naive reflections of the lofty ideals I held about what a perfect parent I would be, and how wise and wonderful any potential children of mine were certain to be.

Pretty much all of those ideals have long since fallen by the wayside, along with any last vestiges of sympathy for the physical and emotional comfort of the child free in public spaces.  The following is not an exhaustive list.

1.) I was going to buy my future child lots of cuddly toys-and they would all be true to life representations of the various different species that walk among us on Planet Earth, so that I could teach my adoring offspring the names and various physical features of ALL THE LOVELY ANIMALS.  It would be like Noah’s Ark, but completely scientific and entirely anatomically correct.

What actually happened:  After perusing the interwebs for hours looking for toy alpacas and okapis, the first toy I bought my yet to be born son, during my pregnancy, was a Moomin from the Moomin Shop.  A completely anatomically correct Moomin, I’m sure, but nonetheless definitely a fictional creature.  After he was born he received a toy giraffe as a present, and convinced it was a strange-looking orange spotty cow, I called it “Space Cow.”  Finally, I realised that he had absolutely zero interest in cuddly toys of any kind, and abandoned the whole idea.

2.)  I would never be caught boasting about the achievements of my child on Facebook.  Not even the tiniest, weeniest little humblebrag.  Then he got a badge at the end of his first term of swimming lessons, and despite the fact that all he had to do to earn it was “enter the pool safely” (he was three months old.  I carried him into the pool.  I EARNED THAT BADGE) it was all over Facebook in seconds.  I was the mother of a child with a badge, people, and you were damn well going to hear about it.

3.) I was going to feed my child nothing but healthy food, ALL THE TIME.

What actually happened: I invested heavily in this one.  I bought books, I slavishly followed NHS guidelines on exclusive breastfeeding and weaning at six months and not before.  Despite having literally no idea how they worked out this statistic, I had read that only a tiny one per cent of babies were exclusively breastfed until the age of six months, and I was going to make sure that we were in that one per cent, if it was the last thing I did.  We got there, I celebrated with a pat on the back for me and the metaphorical Public Badge of Good Motherhood, only to find that my son had no interest in solid food whatsoever.  Now, at the age of almost two, the things he will eat can be pretty much listed on the fingers of one hand, and top of that list is ice cream.

4.) I will speak to and read to my child all the time, and by the age of two their speech will be eloquent and their vocabulary extensive.

What actually happened: I tried with this one, I really did, but unless things move very quickly in the next week, we are stuck with “ball” and “oh no.”  So much for taking after his mother, who according to a well-known (possibly apocryphal) family story, was conversing fluently with the babysitter on the merits of BBC current affairs programmes by eighteen months.*

5.) I would never be That Parent on public transport.  You know, the one with the child who is screaming.  The one with the child who won’t sit down.  The one with the pushchair that they haven’t quite learned to fold down yet.  The one offering biscuits as a bribe to get the child to sit still/stop screaming/stop throwing things.

Reader, I am That Parent.

And what have I learned from breaking all of my own rules?  I have learned that it is folly indeed to judge before you have walked a mile in the sensible shoes of motherhood.  That the child you have might not be the one you imagined you’d have; the one who loved to drink kale smoothies and eat organic goji berries, and just loved learning about All The Animals In The World via the medium of cuddly toys.  And that is all part of the joy of parenthood.

*I told her that Margaret Thatcher was my grandmother.  She isn’t, people.  Don’t hate me.  It was an innocent mistake.

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. Haha, such a good list! I was never going to be the parent who would hold their baby aloft and have a good old honk at their bum to determine if they’d done a poo. I’m absolutely that parent. #triballove

    1. Min says:

      Me too! Then the other day I read a headline that said something about how you should never do that and I was like, IGNORE, and didn’t bother to read it!

  2. Sarah says:

    God can you imagine if she were?! The shame! Xx

    1. Min says:

      I wouldn’t tell anyone!

  3. Rach says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha this really made me laugh. So true. You go into parenting thinking of the things you’ll never do but 9 times out of 10 you’re doing them without even realising! #bigpinklink

    1. Min says:

      Thanks-yep, we all end up having to eat our words/expectations from pre-child days!

  4. This made me laugh, and squirm a little uncomfortably at pretty much recognising myself in all of these, in equal measure…!! A lot of these were on my list of things I’d never do, that I now have to laugh at myself over, otherwise I’d die of shame! I’ve been thinking a lot about people who post their child’s achievements in Facebook (and have a post planned about it,) because I used to be someone who couldn’t stand that. But actually, I think we need to be less afraid of admitting how ridiculously proud of our children we are, (maybe we just need to balance it out a little by admitting that they painted the walls with the walls with their poo or something!) My second child is a reflection of the lack of time I’ve had to read to him, and try to develop his vocabulary, as he is miles behind where his brother was at this age. I’m taking the fingers crossed he will catch up approach! I’m also the parent with the screaming child in public.., it’s always me!! And sadly, even the most shameful of bribe treats don’t seem to be working anymore… And you read my post, so you know that our food situations are also frustratingly similar!!
    The benefit of hindsight and reflection!! At least it keeps us grounded…!!

    1. Min says:

      Indeed-I just didn’t want to be a baby bore on Facebook as before I had a child I have to admit I found other people’s baby posts generally tedious, unless they were funny, that is! I think all children are different, so I’m sure your second child being behind the first in terms of vocab is just them being different rather than lack of reading. Probably. I’m not too sure, but I hope so as otherwise I’m going to be stressing that I must be a terrible parent compared to all the others in my NCT group whose children are all chatting away!

  5. Most definitely agree with these. I have totally been that parent…oh indeed I have! Having said that, you were totally setting the bar high with the whole ark adventure…ha!!! #FridayFrolics

    1. Min says:

      Haha, I had no clue!

  6. Guilty on all counts! I might possibly also have mentioned at one point that I would have theme days, based on the countries of the world. Like so one day might be Mexican Day and we will read stories and look at maps of Mexico and eat Mexican food for lunch and go for a walk and look for wildlife that there might be in Mexico (in Yorkshire) and that we’d top the afternoon off by making our own sombreros and then having a Siesta in the garden in the sunshine…. In reality, we’ve pretty much mastered Greek Day and that’s it. And by mastered I mean we’ve smashed a plate. That’s about it. *sighs wistfully and wonders what time Bing comes on* 😉 Love this post hon (as always of course – big fan of your work). xx #fridayfrolics

    1. Min says:

      Thank you. I love the idea of Mexican Day. I might steal that! Oh, wait…seems like I still have ideals that are just a little bit too high!

  7. Emma says:

    Ahahahaha this made me laugh. We are all smug pre-children and then when they arrive we lose that smugness pretty quickly. I too was so chuffed when I managed to breastfeed Youngest for the first 6 months, but she too is now rubbish with her food. Where Oldest who refused to breastfeed, EVER, is brilliant with her food. We can’t win! Thanks for linking up with #FridayFrolics

    1. Min says:

      It’s funny isn’t it? I think we have precious little control over how much and how often they eat, regardless of what the books say.

  8. imatwinmama says:

    Brilliant! We’ve all been there. I think there are certain things I’ve managed to stick to – e.g. the importance of routine (a decision made the minute I discovered there wasn’t just one foetus in there) and a ban (until they’re older at least) on Haribo sweets (or equivalent). Everything else has fallen by the wayside! Their diet consists of different forms of bread/toast products, chocolate, ice cream and cereal. Anything else ends up on the floor and in the bin! I also regularly bribe them with biscuits and Peppa Pig on my phone when we’re out in public. Oh the shame!

    I guess parenting is like anything in life though; different when you haven’t yet experienced it.

    1. Min says:

      Sounds exactly like me. I too have managed to steer clear of Haribo so far, but then I don’t like them so I can’t see why anyone else would! We don’t have much in the way of routine, but I imagine it’s essential for your sanity when there are two of them!

  9. Suzanne says:

    Ha – good list. I can totally relate to the food one – my daughter is also a limited eater even though I did everything ‘right’. Also love the Margaret Thatcher comment – my daughter saw a picture of Tony Blair the other day and said ‘aw that’s me as a little baby’. Weird. #fridayfrolics

    1. Min says:

      Haha, that is weird! Thanks for commenting.

  10. Oh the high hopes we have before reality! I used to tell everyone Boy George was my uncle because I had an Uncle George! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

    1. Min says:

      Ha! I also have a Boy George-related tale. I thought he was a girl and wouldn’t believe anyone who told me otherwise. Apparently the name “Boy George” didn’t convince me!

  11. Naomi says:

    Yup. We all have a few of those. Somethow I thought my kids wouldn’t have tantrums. I also thought they wouldn’t ever hit other kids. I was wrong. So so wrong.

    1. Min says:

      Same! I was going to be the person with the tantrum-free toddler! Oh how wrong I was…

  12. Silly Mummy says:

    Haha! Yes, I think we all do this! Mine weren’t going to watch tv! & yes I wasn’t going to bribe them to behave. Ahem. Loving number 2!

    Thanks so much for joining us on #FridayFrolics. Hope to see you next time

    1. Min says:

      Haha, I bribe Piglet all the time now (now that he’s old enough to be bribed). I actually gave him chocolate as a bribe to get him to leave a museum today. The things we tell ourselves before the reality strikes!

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