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And then I had kids.

Do you ever find yourself quietly judging others in your head? I think we all do this. Especially when it comes to parenting. It's funny how at one point we may have such idealistic ideas about "how we were going to do things". Or we've thought there's only one way to act, behave or make decisions. Or that we were raised certain ways that make us think "this must be the right way."

I grew up in a house that only ever used white Christmas lights. I thought that was normal. I like the single color that matches the Minnesota snow outside on the ground. Colored lights just didn't seem right. And then I had kids. "But Mommy, my favorite colors are green and blue. The tree looks better with lots of colors." Max said. And Zoe chimed in, "Red Mommy!" We only had two strands of colored lights. I actually was going to use the colored lights this year, but they only filled half the tree. We had to go to the store regardless, so we made a compromise. Mommy got her white Christmas lights and we bought a snowman for the patio.

Our Christmas tree this year....with white lights.

You know, one of those big, blow-up, snowmen that has a light inside and he looks like he's waving at you. Those ugly, huge and obnoxious decorations that have always seemed ridiculous to me and I've said, "Why do people put those things on their house? There's not even snow here." And then I had kids. And somehow the snowman looks cuter this year. The joy on their faces makes it all worth it. And the fact that Zoe is constantly encouraging all of us to give him a high-five is pretty precious.

Max and Zoe's new best friend.

Or living in Mexico, with a party every other day (seriously, that is almost our reality at this point). I remember attending said parties before I had kids and thinking "I'll never let my kids eat so much candy!" I remember I was so strict with Max (firstborn) and we never let him have any candy. And then I had a second child. My hands were too occupied holding a baby that a lollipop happened to land in Max's mouth. By the time Zoe was walking at 10 months old, I'm pretty sure she was grabbing her own candy off the tables. Because, we can't all be perfect. (And we do still brush teeth everyday!)

Another birthday party with more treats this weekend.

What about the Saturday mornings with cartoons? In my idealistic head I thought, my kids will never watch television. I'll probably have some Pinterest craft ready to go every weekend and we'll read 20 books an hour before making the coolest playdough creation on this planet. And then I had kids. And reality sunk in. Paw Patrol is a welcome addition to our routine on the weekends, especially on the mornings following a night out for Mommy and Daddy.

We love Paw Patrol so much it was Zoe's birthday party theme

Sitting down at the dinner table and trying to make our kids eat all their food is exhausting. I admit, I silently judged other friends who couldn't get their kids to eat all the broccoli on their plate thinking my kids will never complain about their food. And then I had kids. And all kids are different. We have one child who eats everything and another one who is 4 and still needs to be spoon-fed at times to make sure he is getting enough to eat. Kids are tough and as much as I thought my kids would be different, there's no guarantee.

What about the tantrums I've witnessed on many airplanes over the years which I mentally swore would never happen to my children one day? The moms acquiescing to her child's ridiculous screaming request for M&Ms just to get the child to quiet down and stop the angry stares in the airplane, I quietly judged her. And then I had kids. And I know exactly what it is like to have a child misbehave on an airplane or in the airport. I remember crying myself as I tried to keep Max on my lap when all he wanted to do was run up and down the aisles. I remember the kind steward who brought my kids a bag of gummy bears because he said it looked like Mommy could use some help.

The time I traveled by myself on crutches with two kids. Max was trying to escape on his leash. We were all crying.

For all the silly and the serious things we could add to our list about having kids, nothing could have been predicted before it happened. As much as I liked to think I'd be some superhero mom able to control and predict my children's requests and actions, it's an impossible goal to reach.

And that's ok. Because having kids has taught me so much about myself. About my tendency to want to make everything appear perfect or that I have it all under control. But I know that I don't. And it's ok. I'm a hot mess most days. Even when I post a cute photo of my kids, there's another dozen photos or videos of a mess or a tantrum or of a Mommy who probably wasn't as patient as she could've been.

We are all doing our best. Some days we might give in and let our kids have a cookie, other days they may watch more Daniel Tiger than what is recommended and every once in a while Mommy might buy a blow-up snowman, but all the days balance each other out. I think it's good for our kids to see we're all doing our best. Nobody is perfect and we could all use a little grace (and sense of humor).

So whether anyone else needed this reminder, or if it's just for me this holiday season, remember we're all fighting our own battles, some more serious than others. We could all use a little encouragement, grace and humor, so be merry and enjoy these memories you're making! (even the ones that now include blow-up decorations on your rooftop patio).


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