I used to cringe when I heard a crying baby on an airplane. Or when I saw kids at restaurants immediately zombified by their iPads the moment they sat down. Or the toddler chomping away at a bag of M&M’s. I judged. I shook my head. Couldn’t the parents just deal with that situation a little more effectively? Couldn’t they just fix it? Now I know better. Oh boy, do I know better.

Surviving Life With Kids

The motivation for this post came from a meme I shared on Facebook that illustrates what it’s like dining out with children. I’d say it’s pretty accurate, complete with the barely-touched chicken fingers and partially destroyed crayons. And the upside-down, barefoot child.

When you first find out that you’re expecting, you’re bombarded by all sorts of emotions. Maybe you’re elated. Maybe you’re excited. Maybe you’re terrified out of your wits, because you haven’t the first clue how to take care of another human being. It’s a lot to handle.

Even before you get to that point, if you’ve ever had even the slightest inclination toward potential parenthood, you’ve likely held an idealized vision of what that would look like. I know we did. Oh, we’d never give in to this or we’d never let our kids do that. We’d always do the right thing and follow all the recommended guidelines. Right?

And then real life parenthood hits you like a ton of sleep-deprived bricks with an extra helping of spit-up and total public meltdown on the side.

We’ve managed to survive the terrible twos, but there are new challenges to face every day and new realities we need to accept. And no matter what parenting decisions we make, inevitably someone will tell us that we’re doing it wrong. Because they would never give into that temptation, right?

You Are Not Alone

I turned to the mommy and daddy blogger community for input and here is what they had to say when I asked them to complete this sentence: “Before I had kids, I swore that I/they would never…”

Heydy Lopez of Raising Jay and Abel:

Eat fast food but now that’s all they eat.

Tyler Ingram of A Dad’s Adventures:

Would never play on a computer till the age I was at which was 6. He first used my computer at age 4.

Alison Tedford of Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops:

Co sleep. See a screen. Make unreasonable food related demands. Go on vacation to some lame family focussed resort. Now I’m like, cuddle up to mom with your iPad after you ate chicken fingers while I look for somewhere warm you can hang out with mascots on the beach.

Helisa Duplassie of British Columbia Mom:

Use a soother. Or a leash. I was able to maintain that with my first but my second threw all my ‘expertise’ back at me with a side of TV in his room and movies to sleep. It’s exponentially harder to chase after a toddler when there’s more than 2.

Stacey Robinsmith of A Dad in the Burbs:

I said I wouldn’t ever let my kids make a scene in a restaurant. I would “deal with it.” Hahahahahaha….

Janette Shearer of Ava to Zoe:

I swore I was going to be a fun mom. I wouldn’t set rules, I wouldn’t make them eat the things they didn’t want too… yep all of the above, out the window! I’m a giant stick in the mud as a mom.

Ingus Wan of Dad Mode: On:

Before I had kids, I swore that I would never let them eat junk. Pizza Pizza and McDonald’s are a designated a weekly dinner option.

Adam Dolgin of Fodder 4 Fathers:

Before I had kids I swore I would be a better parent than my own parents, but now I realize that’s not possible… my parent’s gave me the freedom to explore. I give my kids freedom to play PlayStation for an extra hour.

Trent Wilkie of The Undad:

Before I had kids I swore I’d never have kids. That was until I met my wife.

How Naive We Were

It’s so incredibly easy to perch yourself up on some moral high horse when you’re not actually in the thick of a situation. I was largely against cosleeping too, largely because I was afraid I’d roll over in the middle of the night. And screen time (after learning of the recommendations). And pacifiers and toddler leashes. I’d never turn to any of that…

I oftentimes feel like I’m a bad dad for letting her eat at McDonald’s regularly or that I’m spoiling her with too much screen time. Even so, because I’ve now walked a mile (or seven) in these parenting shoes, I am far less inclined to judge other parents and the parenting decisions they make. We’re all doing the best that we can and if a few minutes of Animal Crossing on the tablet can restore just a little bit of sanity, we’ll take it.

With some extra ketchup for our soggy fries.