I was adamant, confident, borderline obnoxious about the mother I would be and no one heard it more than my brother-in-law, Tyrell. He was the first of our close friends to become a parent, having his daughter, my goddaughter, while we were all still in college.
Years later when he started dating my sister we spent a lot of time together. From the very beginning Tyrell always prioritized his children. He would visit them every other weekend, almost 4 hours away, and never missed a birthday, Christmas or special occasion. I admired many of his parenting traits but always criticized him for being too lenient on his children.
As a foursome, myself, my sister, my husband and Tyrell, promised each other that we would always be honest, hold each other accountable and challenge each other to be the best versions of ourselves. However, every time we had these conversations it always seemed like it ended with Tyrell in the hot seat with all of us giving him parenting advice, my voice being the loudest. “Your job is not to always make them happy and be their friend, Tyrell. You have to be willing to discipline them. Trust me, you want to be the one to do it. Not someone out in the world that doesn’t love them!”
And he wasn’t the only person I judged, by the time I was 25 I had more godchildren than I could count and more mommi friends to criticize. And don’t get me started on strangers. The things I said in my head… “oh your kid’s on a leash?” “Did that little boy just talk back?” Oh no, that would never be me! “When I become a mom, I’ll be all about discipline!” “Left, Left, Left, Right, Left...” My kid would be militant and he’d be happy about it and so would I. I was sure of it! In retrospect, I was completely unqualified to speak so arrogantly about what I would do and the mother I would be.
Ross (I refer to my hubby by our last name) and I decided that we would wait until our athletic careers were over to start a family. I retired in 2016 after the Olympic Trials and no sooner than my pinky toe cleared our hotel room door my husband was ready for me to make good on my promise.
When we started trying to get pregnant, my sister, Shari monitored my cycle, closely, and would call Ross on the days she knew I was ovulating. It was always a dream of ours to have kids at the same time and within six months of her great news, I got mine.
I surprised Ross on Christmas Day and my pregnancy journey started off like a fairytale. For the majority of my pregnancy I didn’t feel pregnant, I had no morning sickness or adverse effects. It was life as usual and I just knew I was going to kill this parenting thing like I always envisioned.
Well, I’m assuming Deucey overheard some of my conversations in utero about my plans for mommihood and made his first protest at birth! When Shari gave birth, I was in the room. It was such a beautiful miracle to witness. My sister’s strength and vulnerability were inspiring and I knew if she could do it, and my mother could do it (twice), I was built for it. My plan was to deliver naturally, with no medication. I labored and labored for hours without medication, eventually giving in to the pain. I opted for the epidural, but still hoped to give birth vaginally. Nope, Deucey wasn’t having it. He was staying in and if we wanted him out we’d have to come get him.
In the end, I had an emergency C-section. That was the beginning of every perfect vision I had about parenting being flipped on it’s head and confronting the mother I was sure I would be.
From the moment I met my son I knew I would have a hard time telling him no. Kids do something to you, it’s a mesmerizing, life changing love. I thought I understood the depths of Tyrell’s love for his children but I had no idea. My little prince was here and I would do anything to make him happy!
Instead of the stark disciplinarian I envisioned I would be, I found myself choosing his smile and laughter over structure. I’m still breastfeeding my Deucey even though I’m 100% sure that it is solely for comfort. I haven’t taken any of the necessary steps to start the weaning process. It’s bad. Like really bad. He nurses upwards of 10 times a day. He just walks up and pulls my shirt down, even stands up to feed. I am prisoner to his wants and although I get frustrated, and long for these days to be behind me, I succumb every time.
I’m also the mom that hides in the bathroom when my husband rightfully disciplines our son because it makes me, the one who thought she would be a drill sergeant, cringe. Roll around on the airport floor to keep him entertained and not screaming his head off? Disgusting. Yeah, I do that too. In some ways, I’ve become the exact type of mom I judged on countless occasions, and the mom I told Tyrell I would never be!
I’m certain God has a sense of humor when it comes to teaching us compassion. The things we boldly stated that we’d never do are the very things we find ourselves rationalizing and implementing into our own lives. I believe it’s God’s way of reminding us that we are much more alike than we are different.
So Tyrell, accept my sincerest apologies! You’re an amazing Dad!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent it’s that every parent needs a little space and a lot of grace. Everyday we pick our battles and do our best to nurture, protect and guide our children to become the best that they can be. It isn’t easy and there is no right or wrong way to love and support a child.
There is one thing that did hold true though; I always knew I’d love being a mommi! I can’t wait to share so much more and I’m grateful you joined me on MommiNation to read about it! Follow my family on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and catch my weekly blogs right here!
P.S Be sure to comment below! Are you the mom you thought you would be? Can’t wait to hear your stories!