kids

How To Be A Parent 

Not too long ago I found myself back in my counselor’s office basically weeping over being a parent. I found myself paralyzed in fear over parenting Wyatt. Like, I could not do it because I was terrified of messing it up. Really of messing HIM up. And I can’t mess up a kid who already has a messed up beginning, right!? The pressure! My God! After a couple of weeks, my counselor looked at me and said: “Where is the Courtney I met all those years ago? The one who did not give a shit about what other people did or said? Where did she go?” And I was like: Dang it. You are right, sister. She got lost. I lost her! I lost her in all of the stupid crap out there that tells you how to be a parent. 

And so I spent the next few months trying to find and get that girl back. And good news! SHE’S BACK. And she don’t give two shits. (JK but not really) 

So this is for all of us who got lost in the parenting books and studies and classes and what everyone else is saying and doing. This is for all of us who found ourselves again. Because being a parent is hard enough without all the extra noise out there telling you how to be a parent to the kid only you know best. Let’s do this. 

How to be a parent in like almost 20 steps:

Do not give your baby formula under any circumstances. It causes brain damage. Breast is always, always best. Unless that isn’t an option, then formula is great. Drink up! But beware, giving your child the nutrients they need is being a good parent that can also kill your child. 

Do not ever put your child down. You should wear them at all times. This is nurturing the bond between you two and increases their felt safety. You should put your child down because this helps them learn to crawl and walk and do things on their own which will increase independence and it will be the downfall of your attachment with them. Baby wear until middle school.  

You should come up with a routine and stick with it always. But don’t do that because then you will never be able to do anything ever again and will feel like you might die. Schedules are very important for children that should be kept exactly always and never. 

Do not leave your child in a room by themselves to fall asleep. Unless you want to let them learn to self soothe which is a great coping skill that also makes children feel abandoned and like they are going to be eaten by Voldemort. 

Don’t spank. Ever. Under any circumstances. Unless you believe in discipline that produces drug addicts. Because that’s what spanking does. It makes your child more likely to do drugs. 

Do not put your child in time out. It is scientifically proven to be ineffective and damaging to your child’s brain and heart. You will actually destroy your child as a human being if you place them in time out. 

Always speak to your children like Mother Theresa would. Do not raise your voice ever. Raising your voice causes your child to undergo unnecessary trauma. And trauma quite literally changes the shape of your child’s brain. 

You should be aware of your parenting triggers before you become a parent. Is it crying? Whining? Being completely sleep deprived? Maybe all of the above? Again, you should know these before having children. Do not give in to your triggers. Keep your cool always. Do not get frustrated. Losing your cool will guarantee a lifetime of counseling for your child. It will also give them the same triggers you have when they have their own children. Relax!  

Always give your child 13 bajillion choices. Any more than 13 bajillion and you are encouraging entitlement. Any less than 13 bajillion and you’re just being plain neglectful.  

Do not avert your eyes from your child at any time during the day. Averting your eyes from your child causes your child to have a shorter attention span. If you do have the balls to let your eyes wander from your jewel, well done, you have just given your child ADHD. 

When your child is throwing a tantrum do not show any signs of anything on your face. Always remain neutral. If you laugh that gives them a positive reaction and they will continue to throw down. If you show frustration that gives them a negative reaction which makes their brain go into flight or fight mode. Leave them alone. Stay with them. Let them throw the tantrum and ignore them. Put them in a safe place and let them work it out. Contain them with your arms, rocking back and forth and whispering words of love in their ears. 

Your child should watch tv anywhere from no minutes a day up to 3 hours. It’s best for their brains if they see no electronic screen until 5 years of age. 1 hour of tv a day starting at age 2 is good for your child which also causes shorter attention spans, hyperactivity and makes your child’s brain smaller. 30 minutes of tv is best starting at age 1. 

When playing with your child always let them lead. Your child is in charge and should make all play related decisions. Do not ever decline an invitation to play. Unless you want them to learn how to play independently which is a developmental milestone that also causes aggression in children. 

Do not do things for your child if they are able to do it themselves. They will never be able to grow into functioning adults. Continue to do everything for your child. They need you and this is nurturing for your child’s relationship with you. If you want your child to be able to be in a healthy relationship in the future you should continue doing everything always and never for your child. 

Do not ever say No to your child. You should always say Yes. Unless you can’t for safety reasons say Yes then you should come up with a creative way to not say No. You should tell your child No sometimes. This helps them understand rules and boundaries. Do not negotiate with your child. Communicate to them who is the boss. 

Do not use sticker charts as a way to reward your child. Don’t reward your child for anything. This causes entitlement and you can expect your child to live with you forever. 

Sometimes you will need to go with your gut. You will need to make in the moment decisions with and for your child. You should always prepare for these situations even if you do not know what they will ever be. Every single moment is a teachable one that will make or break your attachment with your child. Do not mess up. Feel confident in yourself! 

Don’t ever wake your child up. Unless they are napping and you want them to sleep at night. A child should nap between 1.5-3 hours daily. There should be exactly 5 hours in between the morning wake up, nap, and bedtime. Do not make your child go to sleep. They will tell you when and if they are tired.

You should cherish every moment of parenting. Parenting your children is a grace that you should also not feel pressured to enjoy every moment because that’s ludicrous. Enjoy every single moment always and sometimes. 

Easy enough, right!? Go forth. You’ve TOTALLY got this. 

Mornings With A Toddler: A One Act Play

Open scene on dad in shower, mom laying in bed, and toddler waking up crying. 

Mom: Good morning, buddy! 

Toddler (crying): Want to go eat. 

Mom: Okay. Let’s go. What do you want to eat? 

Toddler: Peanut butter sandwich and banana. 

[Mom fixes peanut butter sandwich and cuts up banana while toddler sits and cries because he wants all the foods NOW.]

Toddler (eats bite of sandwich and starts crying): Don’t like it. Want pasta. Want turkey. 

Mom: You love peanut butter! Let’s take some bites! Pasta and turkey aren’t for breakfast. Maybe we can have those for lunch or dinner. Mmmm bananas. 

Toddler (crying): DON’T LIKE IT. Go lay in mommy’s bed. Want cars! 

Mom: Okay. Well, you have to eat something for breakfast and you can lay in mommy’s bed after you eat. You can have your cars when you start eating. Would you like something else? Eggs? Sausage? 

Toddler (SCREAM CRIES LOUDER): DON’T LIKE IT. GET DOWN. 

[Gets toddler down because coffee has not been made yet and mornings are not safe until coffee has been consumed.]

Dad walks in. 

Mom (looks at dad with semi crazy eyes): This is why I don’t do breakfast. 

Toddler (sobbing hysterically): I WANT CARSSSSSS. 

Mom and Dad: You may have your cars when you eat your breakfast. 

Puts toddler back in high hair. 

Toddler (crying): I want cars. 

Dad: Eat your food. 

Toddler (crying): I WANT CARSSSS. 

Dad: If you want your cars you need to start eating. 

Toddler (eats food happily like this is the first time he’s had this discussion with an adult, because WHY?) 

Dad leaves to go to work. Before dad leaves, mom looks at him with a “Don’t you dare ask me what I did today” look because, THIS, this is what I’m going to do all day. Hugs. XOXO. 

Toddler: I all done. Want to get down. 

Mom: Let’s take two more bites of banana because you’re two! 

Toddler: I don’t like baby bite. Not like it. 

Mom: All the bites of banana taste the same. The size doesn’t matter. Just eat two. 

Toddler (starts crying): DON’T LIKE BABY BITE. 

Mom (shoves two pieces of banana in toddler’s mouth): YAY you did it! You can get down and go play! 

End scene as toddler runs off to go play and mom lays head on kitchen table because, how is it only 7:50 a.m.? 

Because Laughing Is Better Than Crying: Part 2

Because toddlers simultaneously make me want to 1) sob uncontrollably while laying in the fetal position 2) eat their faces off because they are so cute 3) laugh out loud 4) pull my hair out and 5) lose my will to live. You can read part 1 here.

I would like to ask my doctor for a Xanax prescription. Because, meal time with a toddler.

My husband and I have started having “second dinner” because 5:30 p.m., really? Unrelated: why did I have to unbutton my jeans while sitting the other night?

This afternoon I sat on the couch checking Instagram while my toddler blew a piece of trash around the living room. YOLO, ya know?

Why is Wyatt on the ground crying? I wouldn’t let him scratch a mole off my face. So there’s that.

Did you know you can “read books wrong?” Yeah, me either.

He asks for snacks all day and refuses to eat at meals. Again, YOLO! 

I don’t understand the whole: “I’ve been up all night for all of the nights with my toddler but I #wouldn’twanttobeanywhereelse” mentality. Have you ever heard of in your own bed asleep? Because that’s always the exact place I’d rather be.

But have you ever stepped on a matchbox car? Because that is the exact way my child is going to learn how to cuss.

Because what’s worse? Cutting your arm tendon like the guy from 127 Hours or trying to explain anything to a toddler?

Hate (v): to cancel a play date after your friend has already told her toddler about it. Used in a sentence: So. Yeah. Buddy. We actually aren’t going to play with Emma today because she is sick their hearts are full of hate. [56 hours later and we’re still talking about playing with freaking Emma] LET IT GO, FOR CRAPS SAKE.

I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy telling him he cannot bring 27 cars with him to church.

How many words can two ears hear in one day before they explode? Asking for a friend.

The good news? I finally finished blowing and filling up the kiddie pool in our backyard. The bad news? Summer is over.

Want to know what life with a toddler is like? Have a friend set 19 random alarms that will go off during the night. Run a full marathon tomorrow. This will actually be my next baby shower gift.

Do I work out? I carry around 30 lbs of dead weight because my toddler “fell and hurt knee.” Two week ago. So yeah, I work out. Is there anything else?

My favorite part about dinner is waiting for the bowel movement my toddler will inevitably have. Nothing wets the appetite quite like a runny BM halfway through the meal. Except the opposite of that.

Try to explain rest period at the pool to a napkin. That is life with a toddler.

Okay buddy, you can play with my thongs you pulled out of my drawer. Said no mom ever to her toddler.

One time I served a broken cracker. One time I peeled his banana. One time I opened the crayons at a restaurant. One time I gave him grapes when he asked for grapes… Surely this is what The Bible meant when it said, “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” No?

On Laughing And Spanking

I don’t remember how old I was or what exactly I did. I was probably old enough to know better, but whatever. It wasn’t my first and it definitely wasn’t my last. I was getting smarter back in those days. Not smarter like, making better decisions, smarter. No sir. But I was getting smarter like, snarky and I can outwit you and think on my feet and make you laugh when you really weren’t wanting to laugh, smarter. Yes. [Editor’s note: I’m sure I was SUCH A JOY to parent. Except I don’t think so.]

And so on this certain day of whatever year it was, I stood in the foyer of my childhood home, awaiting yet another spanking from my dad. Me sweating it out. He giving a speech of a lifetime and preparing his arm for the activity that lay ahead. There were bogus statements made like, “this hurts me more than this hurts you” and “I’m doing this because I love you.” There was a “heartfelt apology” on my behalf.

And then the game began.

As the spanking was about to go down I though, I KNOW HOW TO TRICK! I will make him laugh. You can’t discipline and laugh at the same time!! I will win this game old man. I. Will. Win. And so I gave it my best effort. I really did. I told some jokes. Good, solid jokes. I got some laughs. I relaxed my tense body because, this was working. (!!!!)

Then out of nowhere my dad looks me dead in the eyes and says, “You know, I can laugh and spank at the same time.” AND THEN HE DID. I swear to you. Stone cold. He laughed and spanked me at the same time. I may or may not have been yelling things like: BUT YOU LAUGHED!! THIS IS ABSURD! HOW CAN YOU DO THAT!? MY JOKES WERE SO FUNNY! OWWWW! WHAT THE HECK, MAN!?!

And then last night, we were eating dinner and Wyatt was putting on a legit comedy show. Like, we may start charging actual dollars, legit comedy show. [Someone help me. I see exactly one trillion parent teacher conferences in our future.] I had lost my will to keep a straight face. I had also lost my will to live because, I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING AND I’M SO OVER THIS AND EAT YOUR FREAKING DINNER. I said in my best Mother Theresa voice that if he didn’t stop acting like Eddie Murphy and eat his food, I was going to take his car away that he had brought to the table. He said okay.

And then the game began.

He did something hilarious, and we both busted out laughing. Wyatt took the bait. He refused to take another bite, and did another thing hilarious, like I WILL WIN THIS OLD WOMAN. And then I took his car away because, bring it child I’ve already lived your life. He started crying and out of nowhere I leaned in, looked him dead in the eyes and said: “You know Wyatt, we can laugh and discipline at the same time.” Because, OMG WHAT!?

Touche dad. You win. It’s not even all that hard to do.

Because Laughing Is Better Than Crying

I’m just a girl trying to find some humor in parenting. Because what doesn’t kill you makes you funnier, right?

I created a game today where I lay down and Wyatt rolls cars on my back while my eyes are closed. So basically I won today.

In our house we pretend water is different colors. It just makes day drinking easier to explain.

If I were going to prepare a friend for life with a toddler I would hide one of every pair of shoe and ask them to find them as I stand there and scream. Also? You need to be somewhere that requires shoes 10 minutes ago.

If I could describe the toddler in one idea it would be this: They don’t give a damn. They give zero actual damns.

Ways I have been a jerk today: I wouldn’t let him consume trash, I asked him to stop licking the potty, I wouldn’t let him play with a knife, I wouldn’t make him pasta. Also it’s 7:45 a.m.

The toddler is like a PMS-ing adolescent girl. Except the symptoms last until they’re five.

Wyatt can reach the light switch in our playroom. So if you would like to experience a seizure come on over!

One time Wyatt elbowed me so hard in the chest he burst a blood vessel. Life is fun.

One time I texted my husband actual tears because, see above.

There is nothing more rewarding than hearing about how perfect my child was at his grandparents house. Wyatt slept 19 hours last night! Wyatt ate arugula and asked for more! Wyatt wrote the first draft of his college essay!

“Mommy play!” is like the cutest way of inviting you to come sit and do everything wrong.

Hell hath no fury like a 2 year old who did not want his hot dog cut up.

JK. Hell hath no fury like a 2 year old who wanted to play with a doll he pooped on but wasn’t allowed to because, HUMAN FECES.

He cries when it’s time to take a bath and he cries when it’s time to get out. Toddlers make like this much sense.

My favorite thing about the toddler is that they change their minds every .04 seconds and refuse to tell you about it. And by favorite I mean: Where’s the Advil?

Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent of a toddler, but I feel like trying to dress a cat would be a great place to start.

Kroger had a 2 for 5 sale on blueberries this week which means Wyatt will hate blueberries for this week only.

There is nothing more safe than driving while parenting. And by that I mean I’m pretty sure I could drink and drive safer than I can parent and drive.

Because what’s worse? Waking up a toddler from a car nap or peeing on yourself?

Because You’re Doing A Great Job

I don’t care about your schedule, if you have one or if you don’t. I don’t care if the same things happen at the same time every day or if they just happen when they happen. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you breast feed. I don’t care if you buy formula. I don’t care how long you do either of those. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve ever flung poop onto a check out counter and acted like it didn’t happen, and I don’t care if you don’t have a clue what that experience is like. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you let your kid cry sometimes. I don’t care if you never do. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve ever had middle of the night fights with your husband over that tiny human you both love, who won’t stop crying and won’t sleep ever, and neither of you know what to do other than fire cuss words at each other. I don’t care if you’ve got the no sleep up all night with a crying kid for all of the nights figured out. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if your kiddo goes to a private school or a public school. I don’t care if you home school. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you co-sleep or if you don’t. I don’t care if you sometimes co-sleep because sleep is golden no matter how it goes down. I don’t care if your baby sleeps in your room or in another room. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you work or if you stay at home or if you work from home. I don’t care if your kid is in day care or has a nanny or stays with your mom. I don’t care if you went back to work because you had to or if you decided you wanted to. I don’t care why you’re staying home. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve ever yelled at your kid. I don’t care if you haven’t. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you buy only organic. I don’t care if you buy canned vegetables. I don’t care if hot dog consumption is at an all time high in your house. I don’t care if you make dinner every night or if take out is the name of your game. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you put your kid in time out. I don’t care if you spank. I don’t care if y’all just talk it out. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if your kid throws a tantrum at my house or at the park or at the grocery store. I don’t care if they never have the one meltdown not ever. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve showered or if you haven’t. I don’t care if you’re in work out clothes always or if you put actual real life clothes on the majority of the time. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if your kid watches TV or if they’ve never seen a TV show a day in their life. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if there are dishes in your sink or clothes piled high in your laundry room. I don’t care if the dishes and the laundry are always put away. I don’t care if your floors are kind of sticky or if they are mopped weekly. I don’t care if there are toys all over your house or if they’re thrown all in one room. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if dinner is a 4 or 5 or 7. I don’t care if the time you serve dinner is solely based on how the afternoon goes. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’re smack dab in the middle of a really hard season as a parent and I don’t care if you aren’t. I don’t care if you don’t really know what that means either. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing as a parent. I don’t care if you do. You’re doing a great job. 

I don’t care if being a mom is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, ever. I don’t care if it’s the easiest. I don’t care if you’ve found your mom groove yet or if you’re still waiting to find it. You’re doing a great job.

Because what I’m learning is that mom guilt and comparison are the easiest things in the world to engage in.They really are. I lie at the playground all the time because, guilt and comparison. (We can talk about that another time. I’m trying to quit.) I’ve almost had to get off Instagram because, guilt and comparison. I’m finding that it’s just so easy to forget that I’m doing a great job. I already am. 

And so are you. Because let’s be real, no matter how you’re playing this mom game? You’re doing a great job. Promise.