Before having kids, I had a lot of ideas about how I would parent. I pictured rocking my cuddly babies to sleep every night, humming lullabies for hours without tiring of it, and being constantly delighted by their playful messes. Somehow, my pre-kid self didn’t have the foresight to see that while I absolutely adore and cherish my children, I do sometimes feel a twinge of annoyance or irritation with them.
My pre-kid self also had lots of ideals about how I would handle some of the decisions that parents face after the baby years. When Miles was younger, I was shopping with my mom for some baby clothes and we had a discussion about a toddler T-shirt with Mickey Mouse on it. I distinctly recall telling my mother “We aren’t doing characters on his toys and clothing. I prefer more neutral items.”
Fast-forward to today. Miles has his 4th birthday later this month and will be attending part-time pre-school this fall. We got his supply list for school a few weeks ago, and it turns out he does need a backpack for school. The backpack presents a dilemma for me because it’s causing an internal debate between my pre-kid self and my current self.
Pre-kid Me says “I’m never going to buy my kid a backpack with a TV or movie character on it. Every kid in his class will have the same one, I want him to have an original-looking backpack.”
The Me with Two Kids says “Miles would really love a Toy Story backpack. He would an Octonauts backpack even more. I wonder if I could find a backpack with ALL the Disney Junior characters on it!”
It’s still true that I’m not sure I want him to have the same backpack as every boy in his class, but only because I don’t want it to be confusing for him. As you can see, he does have shirts with his favorite TV characters on it. Not many, but only because we rarely buy new clothes (so he wears a lot of shirts with the favorites of the boys we’ve gotten hand-me-downs from!).
But still in the back of my mind, I’m wrestling with this idea that my parenting is not what I expected it to be. I have to wonder how many of these arguments I will have with myself over the years. When I look into the future, I’m certain that I won’t discipline like I’d hoped. I’m positive that my relationships with my boys’ spouses won’t be what I envision.
I’m not overly burdened by this debate, but I’m working on accepting that even though my ideals and priorities will change, I will do what feels like what’s best for our family at the time. It doesn’t mean I’ve failed, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad parent, it means I’m adjusting to what our family needs. And right now, what my family – no, what Miles needs – is a backpack that he’ll be excited and proud to carry. So I’ll tell my pre-kid self to shut it and buy the kid a Buzz Lightyear backpack.