Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Breaking the Rules - Survival Mode

Before you become a parent, you have a long list of things you'll never do to YOUR kid. You'll never pick them up just because they want you to, or let them watch tv, or give them something they want just because they are whining for it.

Let me tell you, you're in for a wake up call.

About three seconds into parenthood you realize you're a big sucker. Those big eyes, those little lips. You already know you'll do anything just to make them happy. But you tell yourself, you'll stick to your standards, because it's what's best for this little miracle in your arms.

But the reality of parenthood sets in quickly and although it drove me bonkers to hear it when I was pregnant, there really was so much I didn't know until Molly was actually here. And while I still have standards, a parenting style, and parenting beliefs about what will be best for my daughter, I'm learning that nothing is set in stone, and you are literally learning and changing your opinions every single step of the way.

Before we had Molly, my husband and I adamently agreed: No baby in the bed. It would not happen. I'd heard too many stories of couples who had grown apart because they had a kid in their bed many nights. At first we did well. Molly slept in her pack and play and eventually her crib. But then we hit the growth spurts, and we went into what I call "survival mode." When your child has been up literally screaming her head off from 6pm the previous evening until 5:00 the next morning, and the only way she will calm down is when you lay her down between you and your husband in your bed, you do it. You do it because you love your child and don't want her to cry any more, but you also do it because you love your sanity. You're in survival mode.

Sleeping in the bed isn't the only rule I've broken in order to survive parenthood. I swore up and down I would never EVER place my child in front of the tv in order to get some things done. But one day, she was crying, ohhh was she crying, and my husband was running last minute errands, and I had to pack us all up to go away on a trip in just a few hours. So I bit my lip, felt guiltyguiltyguilty, and put Molly in her exersaucer with "Yo Gabba Gabba" on the television. She stopped crying. She started laughing. I packed up three people and a dog for a lengthy trip, and loaded the car in 25 minutes. Survival mode.

Last week Molly discovered the art of a temper tantrum. It was cute at first. She'd sit down, throw her arms and forward on the floor like a hopeless mess, and get over it in about 30 seconds. Tonight, she was in rare form. She needed to eat dinner, I needed to unload groceries, and her face was the color of the very ripe plum in our fridge. So I did what no well-respecting non-mom would do: I whipped out my phone, activated my YouTube app, turned on the beloved Yo Gabba Gabba, and watched my child stare at a screen while she silently ate her cucumbers and spaghetti and I put the groceries away, fed the dog, and made our dinner. It was indeed, survival mode.

So the next time you are at the mall, and you see a mom cave in to her screaming toddler with a treat, or your co-worker or good friend tells you about how their little one watched "Tangled" twice in a row that afternoon, don't judge them. Give them a break. I guarantee they are great parents, who have just found themselves in a moment of truth and chose pick their battles just to survive.