I was a great parent before I had children
My husband and I were married for five years before we had children. We watched parenting from the sidelines and we became experts.
With our mental parenting manual in place, 803 parenting books on our shelves, and a 4-page birth plan, we became parents.
When our first son was a toddler, guests would often ask, "How can you have all of your pretty things out?" and "You don't have baby gates?"
My husband and I would share a knowing glance and we would respond, "We set clear boundaries."
In our minds, this was code for "Our excellent parenting is clearly paying off. The rest of you whiners should try saying "no-no" to little Johnny!"
In everyone else's mind, this was code for "Just wait for the second born."
When our second son arrived during a thunderstorm on the 4th of July, weighing in at almost 12 pounds, he had a fist raised in the air "Power to the People" style.
You can imagine our shock when he refused to follow the manual.
We said "no-no" in clear, firm voices.
He threw the dishes, anyway.
We shushed him and reminded him about "inside voices."
He let out loud whoops of laughter and shouted "AMEN" during silent prayers at church.
We provided a safe environment for him.
He proudly told the ER doctor how he leapt from the dining room table but the cape (aka tablecloth) was faulty.
His first word was "Uh-oh!"
The sound of "uh-oh" followed by his big brother's "Oh.no.oh.no." acted as an alarm. I would just step into the shower or just sit on the potty (the manual required that I start using words like "potty") and I would hear their chorus:
I would begin the crazy mom run toward the chorus. On a good day, I remembered to pull up my pants or cover myself with a towel.
One such day, I was battling to actually complete a phone conversation with "Mrs. Judgie McJudgerson."
She was explaining to me the importance of setting clear boundaries and teaching our children good manners. "Interrupting Mommy while she is on the phone is a no-no."
In a desperate attempt to please her and regain my status as a good mother, I repeated her mantra to my toddlers.
"Interrupting Mommy while she is on the phone is a no-no."
My firstborn nodded in agreement and promptly left the room.
My second born stripped himself naked and stormed out.
Grateful that McJudgerson couldn't see my naked toddler, I marked one up for "good mommy."
I should have been suspicious when he waltzed through wearing only his cowboy boots.
Moments later, I heard the chorus.
I stretched the phone cord (yes, I am that old) far enough to see my toddler stomping on his discarded and dirty diaper with his cowboy boots.
Forgetting that I was still holding the phone, I shouted "Why are you naked and why are you stomping poop all over my floor!?"
To my horror, I heard McJudgerson say "That is definitely a no-no!"