In the past, as a couple, we would observe and comment on others & their parenting.
Then we got pregnant and would remind ourselves that we weren't exactly sure of the kind of parents we would be.
When the baby came, we did so many things we told ourselves we would never do.
Here is our list and a reminder to ourselves that how we think we would parent didn't turn out to be how we'd actually parent.
1. Taking and/or posting a thousand pictures of my wild bubba on social media
Before the birth of mwb: My husband made it clear to me that it was his wish for us to not post pictures of her on social media. Not until she was old enough and we had her consent. We made the same wish known to family members. On my own, I used to post pictures only for holidays or on occasion.
After the birth of mwb: I am guilty of flooding my social media stream with pictures and videos of her. All day, errday. I became and am a proud mom. Prouder than I could ever imagine and for every little thing, achievement or not.
2. Being a hypochondriac and overreacting
Before the birth of mwb: My husband and I would almost laugh at situations we would hear or read about. Of how yet another mom would overreact in a situation that turned out to be nothing at all.
After the birth of mwb: Between the both of us, my husband is the hypochondriac when it comes to the baby. On several occasions when she's having a crying fit, he would freak out and tell me "we need to go to the hospital" repeatedly. On the other hand (no thanks to covid), I have started becoming paranoid about possible symptoms that not only I might display but also of the people who might be in contact with my daughter. That and also worrying that any ache I have in my body is the result of a tumour and possibly cancer and that I might die and nobody will be able to breastfeed my daughter. Mom train of thought accelerating and crashing.
3. I would never feed my baby 'jar food'
Before the birth of mwb: I have always been repulsed by the idea of feeding my baby ready made food. Yet, it is common in my husband's culture to feed fruit/vegetable purees out of a jar until the kid is old enough to eat the same food as his parents.
After the birth of mwb: While I prepare 98% of the meals she eats, there are moments when I need to take a step back from being mommy and take a breath. In those moments, I would reach into my fridge and take that jar of food out to feed my baby. So I can feel a little better about myself for this decision, I buy only specific jars with as little ingredients as possible to keep it healthy... I guess?
4. I would not be a strict mom
Before the birth of mwb: Being strict is a multifaceted term. Growing up, our family was strict with manners, behaviour, etiquette, grades and everything else a traditional Chinese family would be strict about. I didn't want to raise a child with the same pressures I felt. I didn't want to raise a child who would be too scared to upset me that she would hide herself away. So I resolved to not fall into the same pattern.
After the birth of mwb: She's still far too young for me to say if I am as strict with her but there are things I am definitely strict with already. I am strict about what goes into her little body. About not exposing her to screens. About the books we read, about her activities and even what she wears. While I am not chiding her (yet), it sure feels like I'm on the path to becoming a tigermom. I'll get back to you in a few years.
5. We would not live our lives around the baby
Before the birth of mwb: We could never really understand friends who would invite us over at a specific time or reschedule, or cancel on us because their baby needed to nap or was cranky or some other baby excuse. We told ourselves that we wouldn't be like them. That we would maintain our social lives because we've seen some of our other friends do so in spite of their new baby.
After the birth of mwb: We almost never make plans around nap/bed time. In the first few months after she arrived, we continued our lives like normal. Mwb would nap whenever and wherever we were. All we needed was the carrier. Then she got older and louder and crankier. If we missed a nap, she would make sure to let us know that we made a grave mistake. We would continue to have an extremely cranky baby for the rest of the day, often carrying on into the night and beyond. And that's how you ruin a weekend. We now understand the above-mentioned friends completely.
6. We would never fight about parenting and would always be on the same team
Before the birth of mwb: We had so many discussions about how we would parent and it sounded easy and great. We were aligned on almost everything and we knew exactly how we would react, together, in every possible situation.
After the birth of mwb: We debate constantly. Having a real life child with reactions, reacting to your parenting can sometimes influence your decision. Where we agreed we wouldn't coddle her if she lightly bumps her head, we now find ourselves pointing fingers at the other for allowing it to happen while the other coddles the baby till she stops wailing. Where we agreed we would always have a united front, we now see one of us indulging her when the other isn't looking.
I didn't instantly become a different person the minute I became a parent. I morphed into this maternal figure gradually over time. I feel like I'm less fun as an adult, now that I spend more time around babies. But I am also aware that I choose to spend more time with other babies so my daughter can interact with her peers. I said I wouldn't be or do all these things and yet I have. But being less 'fun' or spending less time with my own friends almost doesn't matter any more.
Everyday our focus is on this one little person, our little person. The one we chose to have and to take on full responsibility for. And for her, we have accepted every change and have admitted to every mistaken assumption we have made about parenting. It is this unpredictability that keeps parenting challenging and fun, isn't it?