Friday will mark exactly 7 years that I’ve been a parent. Our oldest daughter turns 7 this day. And we have a 4-year-old daughter and 16-month-old boy/girl twins. Perhaps you might say that we are parenting experts by this point in our lives. We should know what we’re doing, what we are talking about and what’s up with parenting by now, right? Yeah, right. Trust me, parents do make the best parenting experts, but since all kids are not created equal, we all equally suck and rock at this particular job (I mean, some more than others, you know?). Kids are unpredictable, kind of crazy, super sweet and not one of them is the same. But despite the fact that our kids are all so different, the toddler years manage to be quite similar for most. It’s a time of great strife; kids wanting to communicate but they’re not quite there yet, too many tantrums, too much frustration, the pushing of the boundaries and the very, very questionable moments had by parents. Like I said, we’re not perfect.
Perhaps our imperfections should not be condemned so much as they should be celebrated. After all, it’s the imperfections we have that allow us to make mistakes that aren’t so hilarious in the moment but that make amazingly hilarious stories in the future. Like right now, for instance, I could tell you 10 of the most amazingly stupid things I did with my two oldest kids when they were toddlers. These are my biggest “What on earth was I thinking” moments, and while they might have been horrifying at the moment, they’re pretty entertaining right now.
I didn’t brush my 4-year-old’s hair for most of a year
Thankfully, I’m not alone in this one. Our ‘middle’ child hates having her hair brushed. Truthfully, she hates being clean and put together and well dressed in any manner. So instead of fighting her many mornings, I’d let her waist-length blonde hair go and just blame it on her to anyone that asked or looked at us funny. Smile, shrug, “She dressed herself this morning and did her own hair,” in a resigned voice. I look back at photos of her and I wonder what on earth I was thinking. She’s absolutely beautiful, but she looked hellish.
I let my kids dress themselves…for school
My husband leaves for work two hours before we leave for school in the mornings, and that means I’m doing it all on my own with four kids. By the time breakfast is over, dishes are washed, the kitchen, dining room and nook are cleaned, it’s time to delegate; tooth brush time, hair brush time, getting dressed time, get your junk together time. Load four kids in the car time; it’s a bit much. Sometimes we are rushed and a little harried thanks to last minute diaper surprises from the twins (and usually once they’re already buckled in their car seats and ready to head to the garage). And that means that I sometimes just let my kids dress themselves in the interest of avoiding a fight. And it’s never good.
I let my toddler try to get off the couch without my help
“They’ll only do it once, right?”
I’m not sure what I was thinking when our oldest learned to climb for the first time. When I found her on the couch after running into the kitchen for her cup, I was shocked! She did it! What a milestone! Crazy and weird and so much fun! And then I thought to myself, “I should probably help her down since climbing up does not mean she is aware of how to safely remove herself from high places.” Wait, no, I did not think that. I just lost my ever-loving mind for a second and figured she’s a genius and could get down safely on her own. She could not.
I didn’t take the plastic things out of the sippy cups…hello mold
So, I know I’m not the only one that’s done this, right? Thankfully our second and the twins haven’t consumed what’s probably exceptionally toxic mold since we learned this lesson. The moral of the story is that most sippy cups have these little white inserts in the inside of the lid. Take them out. Wash them. Remove them; every time. Trust me. What you will find in there after months of use without a wash will make you want to cry.
I used my kids as table centerpieces
Who here has a bumbo seat for their babies? Our kids are all very petite, so they fit into these things for the longest time. And when they were new toddlers, we’d stick them in those things and put them in the center of the dining room table while we ate dinner so that we could see the babies and have ‘family’ dinner time. It never occurred to us to just stick them in their high chairs and pull them up to the table even though they’d already eaten. I mean, hindsight is 20/20.
I stuck my toddler in the front seat of my husband’s 2 seater convertible to drive a half mile down the street
This is one of the parenting moments of which I am least proud. However, I will tell you that it was an emergency, and I was terrified. My aunt lives about a half mile from our home, and she locked her keys in the car. She had keys in the house, but she had already locked the door. She called me very quickly knowing I was just down the street and that I had a house key for her. My husband was off with our oldest and our twins in my SUV, and I made the decision to jump in his tiny two seater convertible and drive over. I had her car seat, put it in and drove well under the speed limit. The airbag was disabled, and we never saw another car the entire trip. I know people do this all the time when they have small cars and small trucks, but I didn’t love it. In fact, I made my aunt drive her home after we got into her car
I never cut the grapes for my second child
For some reason I decided that since our first daughter never choked on food, our middle wouldn’t either. So I just sort of forgot about cutting grapes in half by the time she was old enough to eat them. I’d just give them to her whole from the time she was 1 until she was about 18 months before it crossed my mind I should be cutting them. I mean, seriously; I don’t know what I was thinking.
I judged other parents for their lack of potty training skills
Oh yeah. Our first daughter potty trained so easily in one day that I was sure it was a mark of lazy parenting that other kids didn’t. Then my second was born and we tried to potty train her. Long story short, I ate a lot of my words and I let her teacher potty train her. Because seriously, this kid is going to kill us.
I took a shower while the kids were awake
This is not something I’d ever really done, since I always wake up before my kids. But last year, a few weeks after our twins were born, I made the decision to take a quick afternoon shower before my husband came home to freshen up before we went to dinner. I took the twins into the master bath with me safely buckled in their seats. I left my then 3 and 6-year-olds in their rooms playing, since they play so well together. I told them not to answer the phone or the door and that I’d be 3 minutes.
Fast forward 1 minute into my shower and my oldest comes into the bathroom and tells me someone is at the door (Seriously????) and that her sister let her in. But what made me really angry was that the Jehovah’s Witness at the door accepted the invitation of a 3-year-old to come into the house and was sitting in my living room when I ran out of the shower with a towel haphazardly thrown around my dripping wet and covered in body wash body with my shower cap on. I mean, seriously? How about, “Where’s your mommy? I’ll wait out here until your mommy comes to the door,” would have been preferable.
Don’t even get me started on my daughter for opening the door.
I put hot coffee in the stroller cup holder above her head
It wasn’t until I turned a corner in Nordstrom pushing our twins in their double stroller while my Starbucks blonde roast went dripping out the lid all over the top of the stroller that I realized something. If the big girls hadn’t been messing with the covers above the baby’s heads, they’d have been covered in hot coffee. I did this for years with all my kids. I mean, how dumb was I? What was I thinking?
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