How I thought I’d parent versus reality

Childless Jessica would be shocked by current Jessica. I was up on some high horse about the type of parenting I would do someday. It was an aspirational list that any childless person can get behind:

  • no screen time
  • no sugar
  • no princesses
  • no barbies
  • no bedsharing
  • no change to my sex life
  • no change to my wardrobe
  • no special meals for anyone

These didn’t all fall in defeat the moment BB was born, but I could hear their death knell over BB’s sound machine next to our shared bed.

My sex life and wardrobe were the first to go, but also the first to recover. There’s no way to make my kids untaste a Reese’s.

And as a dear friend noted: once you have cinnamon sugar toast, how can you go back?

The descent into Candyland was delayed, but this morning my kids had a box of chocolates for breakfast, so that’s how that’s going.

No special meals for anyone has turned into cereal for dinner.

No screentime has turned into: You get an iPad, you get an iPad and you get an iPad.

I don’t know who the third iPad is for, but I’m sure someone needs it.

The no Barbies has turned into 70% of Hanukkah, Christmas and birthday presents being Barbies. I like to think there is some redeeming value to there being Barbies of all races, shapes and abilities.

The Barbie wheelchairs are very popular with the mermaid Barbies. When I was surprised to notice this, RB gave an irritated sigh,

“Mo-om, they don’t have legs.”

And then the princess thing. There’s nothing empowering about an old fashion princess fairytale, but I’m on board with the recent releases.

So now we have a houseful of whatever dress-up gear you’re into: crowns, swords, gowns, wings. We have enough costumes for the whole neighborhood.

BB had a friend over the other day and she was thrilled to dress up. She told me she doesn’t have any princess dresses. Without meaning to, I exclaim,

“You don’t have ANY princess dresses?”


I do not know this specific mom’s reasoning, but I’m sure I’m 100% on board, even if my current choices don’t reflect that.

Part of the problem is that princess dresses are everywhere. They’re even moonlighting as nightgowns.

When the mom arrived to retrieve her daughter, she was greeted by a houseful of royalty.

There was no time to explain. No chance to say,

‘I hear you don’t have any princess dresses; you’d get along well with my former childless self.’

And with that, we’re soon headed to Canada. My kids will be on their iPads eating whatever and I’ll be in the third row of my mid-size SUV cursing childless Jessica for refusing to get a minivan.

Let them wipe each other’s butts

I can almost taste this vaccine. And it feels like it’s going to be an amazing summer.

When the pandemic started, I had two little people who were determined to fight over anything no matter what. I went with the motto of not negotiating with terrorists.

Then at some point during the slog of this past year, as both kiddos screamed and fought over one puppy stool because the 5 other stools in our home are NOT the same as the puppy stool, I thought to myself: “Maybe life WOULD be better with TWO puppy stools.

I put it in my Amazon cart to think about it, then immediately clicked “buy now.” Sure, I’ll throw $20 at the wall and see if it brings us a little peace.

It did not.

It has proved my initial reaction correct. No negotiating. If they are determined to fight with each other, duplicate items will not appease. I’m better off saving my money for a rainy day or whatever day it is when we go out without our children.

I just read an amazing parenting book. It covered many tactics I’ve read elsewhere, but the way this book put everything together and told me exactly how to do it, really resonated. We’ve made changes and things are looking up.

The book makes the case for few or no toys. I’m not rushing to get rid of everything, but I sure wouldn’t mind scaling back on the gift giving. Why does the Easter Bunny already have a huge bag of gifts in my closet? We don’t have room for what we have. I climb over a trampoline to get to my couch.

And if I thought duplicate items would also be interchangeable. I was very VERY wrong. BB knows which puppy stool is hers and RB is NOT allowed on it.

This post has more all caps than usual. Maybe a reflection of the strong competitive feelings around here.

BB claims she and RB are “besties.” I want to believe that. And considering BB is now willing to change RB’s poopy diapers, maybe it’s true. And don’t get confused. Willing is very different from able.

One theory of the book is that allowing BB to “help” with the dirty diapers today, creates a go getter, self initiator who may, two years from now, wipe RB’s butt all by herself. And if that isn’t parenting success, I don’t know what is.

You’re right. They’re not EXACTLY the same. The original is missing some whiskers. It’s been noted.

Nature vs Nurture. I’m going to toss a lot up to nature

Will the truth survive four years of this? Will we recognize it after it’s attacked day after day? I have no new insights, but I need to acknowledge the pile of poop in front of me before moving onto Baby Bop’s cuter, more manageable poops.

I got my parenting job the same way I got my first bartending job. I BS’d my way into it.

My mom’s friend’s nephew was a bartender and he agreed to teach me how to bartend with no intention of helping me get a job. My first day with him a guy walked up to me at the bar and said,

“You’re new here.”

“Oh I don’t work here, So-and-so is just training me.”

“I have a restaurant and I need a bartender.”


“Have you bartended before?”

“No.” Didn’t this guy hear what I just said? “I’m learning.”

“Have you bartended before?”

Ooooh. “Why yes. Yes I have.”

And off I went to my first bartending job.

Fifteen years later: do you have a uterus?

Why yes I do.

Alright. Let’s see what happens.

I BS’d myself into thinking I knew what I was doing.

“I took care of my baby brother.” I was five.

“I babysat plenty.” At 15 I rang in the New Year with a baby who had just fallen asleep on his parents’ bed. This should’ve served as a warning.

“I’ve read so many books.” I have. But reading about feeding solid foods is very different from watching your child get prunes everywhere but in her mouth. Baby Bop, don’t be mad at me when you’re still constipated later. I tried.

Trying. Maybe I’ll try this. Or I’ll try that. Or I read this on some obscure site, after hours of Googling. It’s worth a try.

My hormones have provided some basic parenting instincts, like the desire to keep my child alive, even though I want to eat her. But they aren’t helpful with the nuances, like what to do when my daughter does pelvic thrusts the entire time I’m trying to change her diaper.

Having more children would provide perspective on what’s personality and what’s parenting skills. But I am not trying to have a comparison anytime soon.

This morning Captain’s bare chest was tempting. I slapped it, then Baby Bop slapped it. That’s parenting.


I’m confused about how this baby’s hair, ears and eyes are so clean.