10 ways I’ve become the parent I swore I’d never be

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Last week, while my daughter and I were outside enjoying some sunshine before that ugly thing called winter arrives, we ran into a gal I befriended at the grocery store last Summer.

Yes, I’ve been known to exchange digits with fellow moms after nothing more than a head nod in the produce department.

Admittedly, we’ve completely lost contact with each other over the last several months and, if I’m going to be perfectly honest with you (why hold back now, right?), I had all but forgotten about her.

After we’d exchanged pleasantries and our daughters were happily touching and licking every surface in sight, I turned to ask her what was new and exciting in her life, and was struck by how different she looked. She was a shell of the person I remember – her clothes hung on her, the bags under her eyes no longer qualify for carry-on status on major airlines, and she only laughed at, like, 2 of my jokes.

It was really awkward.

For fear that something really horrible had happened and I would put my foot in my mouth (as I often do), I kept my mouth shut and let her lead the conversation. Sure enough, she eventually broke down and told me her 2-year-old is still waking up several times a night, and while I wanted nothing more than to take her into my arms and rock her to sleep on that park bench, experience has taught me people respond better when I’m less grabby with them. So I remained seated and just listened to her. And when she quickly wiped a tear from her face and abruptly changed the subject, I let it drop.

As I was draining my first glass of wine later that night (hey, we all have our own coping mechanisms), I started berating myself for not offering her more support. Why didn’t I give her that hug, invite her over for a cocktail, or offer to start a blog for her? But then I remembered how it feels when you’re surrounded by people who seemingly know what they’re doing while you feel like you’re drowning, and I realized the best thing I can do for her is reignite our (non-existent) friendship and just be there for her.

And maybe, if she takes me up on that glass of wine one day, I’ll tell her some of my own secrets.

Closeup of a stressed young woman shouting against blue background

1. After judging that over-privileged friend of mine who lectured me to throw Pantley, Waldburger, and Weissbluth in the trash and hire myself some hands-on help with sleep training, I now have to restrain myself from shoving the name of my amazing sleep coach down everyone’s neck.

2. I haven’t left the house after 7 pm in over 10 months, let alone gone on a date with my husband.

3. I let my picky eater watch cartoons on her LeapPad at breakfast. And sometimes at lunch.

4. I’m a helicopter parent. It’s true. I’m all up in this kid’s grill like nobody’s business (“put that down!”, “get away from that snotty-nosed little boy!”, “GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!!!!”), and I have no idea how I’m going to cope when she starts school.

5. I talk to anyone who will listen to me – the gals at the liquor store, the woman who does my husband’s dry-cleaning, that cheerful parking lot attendant at our local grocery . . .

6. I spend a significant part of my day acting as my 2-year-old’s short-order cook (“oh, you DIDN’T want pancakes? How silly of me! Would waffles suit you better?!”).

7. I’ve all but lost contact with my friends without kids, and I cannot, for the life of me, remember what it feels like to have a girls’ night out. Is it still fun?

8. I say a lot of cutesy things, like, “Mommy’s gotta go potty!” and, “we need to go to the liquor store to buy Mommy’s Happy Juice!”

9. I secretly wish my daughter could be bribed with processed food and cake.

10. When someone talks to me about something other than picky eaters, naps, and poop, my eyes completely glass over and I catch myself trying to see if it is, in fact, possible to sleep with my eyes open.

How have YOU turned into the parent you swore you’d never be?

This post was originally featured over on My Life and Kids in April 2013, and I’m pleased to tell you we are now the proud owners of an awesome babysitter who allows us to leave the house after 7 pm once a month. Twice if we beg her hard enough.

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Gwen
Gwen
Gwen is a 40-something freelance writer and social media consultant who has an unhealthy love for makeup, hair, and fashion. She lives with her husband and 8-year-old daughter in Toronto, Canada and hopes to move to a warmer climate someday. Preferably tomorrow.