Before Kids Parent

I did it.  The other Saturday my toddlers were getting out of the car (for the third time in an hour) and I braced myself because I knew these children needed sunscreen if their pale little Irish-German bodies weren't going to get peel-y pink in the warm sunshine.  We were heading to see a train on the side of the road because that's what you do when you have a four year old boy.  I got ready to pull out my 'all natural' sunscreen stick and then I stopped.  Maybe because I was tired.  Maybe because I was in a hurry.  Maybe because I was being lazy. But, I stopped and replaced my hard to put on sunscreen stick with a can of aerosol sunscreen.  I sprayed sunscreen all over my toddlers pale arms and legs and necks.  #whatwasithinking  After I did it, I thought, I am officially the parent I promised myself I would never become.

When I was a before kids parent, I would only feed my children whole, healthy foods.  They would never, or hardly ever, eat sugar.

When I was a before kids parent, I would never take my kids shopping because of the possible tantrum that I saw so many parents deal with at the grocery store. If I did take them shopping and they would by chance happen to throw a tantrum, I would most definitely leave my groceries in the checkout line and go home to discipline said child throwing the tantrum.

When I was a before kids parent, I would never take my children to a non fast food restaurant.  I wouldn't want to interrupt anyone else's meal.

When I was a before kids parent, I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would never raise my voice to get my point across.  #enterfootintomouth

When I was a before kids parent, I thought breastfeeding and homemade baby food were the only ways to feed an infant.  I thought cloth diapering was essential. I held sleep training up on a pedestal and absolutely knew I didn't need a $30 swaddle for my baby to sleep through the night. (Now, I would pay $60 for a full night of sleep.)

When I was a before kids parent, I was determined I could still do everything I was doing as a before kids parent and have a baby.

When I was a before kids parent, I knew mostly nothing.

Now I'm all here's an Uncrustable and an applesauce pouch for lunch and thank you Luvs for making cheap diapers that work and 'Mom, can you please come HELP ME.'  My after kids self is laughing mockingly at my before kids self for being just plain naive.

My after kids parent, my real self today, is much more practical and joyful and grace-filled.  Kevin and I have a few goals for our parenting journey and we work and focus on how we can make them come to fruition.  Most All of our goals have nothing to do with grocery stores or sunscreen or cloth diapering. Frankly, my after kids self knows those things aren't going to make or break the trajectory of my parenting journey and my childrens' lives.

So, can we do ourselves a favor and call truce on all the things?  Call truce on all the parenting decisions that seem like a big deal and really, truly are the details.  Let families make decisions based on what is best for them and not judge or compare.  Let's give each other grace and let love come through when we interact with a parent who chooses a different path or a different brand of diapers.

Let's not be a before kids parent.

We know this parent gig is hard.  Day in and day out.  We know we all want to do it well.  Let's not get caught up in the details.

Instead of judgement, let's give encouragement.  Instead of comparison, let's grant each other love.  Instead of pride, let's offer grace.

I am okay with not being the 'perfect' mom I thought I would be pre-three babies.  I am okay with keeping my eyes on the big picture and letting the details fly way like the drift of aerosol sunscreen.  I want to be an authentic mom and let all my mom friends be the same.  

And so, when you see me at Target with Lightning McQueen SPF in a can and you have an organic sunscreen stick, know we are in the same game, on the same team, both doing our very best to raise and love our babies well.  We are most definitely not before kids parents.  

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