On the heels of my article where I wrote about not liking to give parenting advice, here is some advice…
Recently Dominic and I were at Costco with the girls. We had just sat down in the food court area and were divvying up the pizza and hot dogs between the girls and ourselves when an older lady approached us:
“I just wanted to tell you, you have a lovely family. I try and make a point to acknowledge a couple when I see them enjoying their children and it looks like you do. So often that’s not the case anymore.”
It was really nice to hear, especially because we had been enjoying the girls at that time. Munching on snacks with the promise of pizza and yogurt at the end of the trip always seems to put them in a good mood.
Her comment got me to thinking though. A lot of times, I don’t particularly enjoy my children; I definitely don’t enjoy the nine-month incubation process we go through before I get to meet them. But for the most part, I have some pretty awesome, likeable kids.
So if you’re ever at a loss or feel like you fervently dislike the little being who you are supposedly biologically obligated to love, here are some pointers that I use myself to get me back on track:
- Notice their unique way of approaching even the smallest task. For me, it’s the way Ansley folds her little hands and squeezes her eyes shut and says, “God is goooooooooooooooood. God is goooood. Thank.You.For.The.Food. A-men!” when I tell her it’s blessing time. Or when Eddaline goes on a dogged pursuit of her dropped paci, sacrificing life and limb (okay, maybe just noggin’ bruises and body contortions) to get to her dropped soothie. It really helps to notice the cute, little things so that when they’re melting down in the middle of the living room/parking lot/school/doctor’s office/mall you can return to that happy place and not knock them to the floor.
- Remind yourself they’ll only be this old once. This is a hard one because I feel like moms are given incredible pressure to “enjoy them while you can!” There isn’t a lot to enjoy about a red-faced sleep-stealing monster, nor I can imagine, is there a lot to enjoy about a teenager who is convinced her life is ruined because you won’t let her buy the skank top on the sales rack at the “cool” store. But wherever they’re at, it is just a phase. Even as adults we’re constantly in a state of flux where we’re learning new things or at different places in our lives. So go ahead and give yourself permission to hate the annoying parts, ‘cause it’ll really help you savor the sweet spots of child rearing.
- Turn the pressure down. Our biological responsibility for our kids is to keep them alive. Food, water, shelter and clothing. Those are the four “must-haves” of child rearing. If you do something above and beyond this criteria, rejoice and acknowledge that you could be doing a lot worse. I don’t care if buying all organic and slaving over a hot stove all day and masking veggies in the cheese sauce is your idea of a wholesome meal or if you’re more of a “cram the nuggets down your throat” kind of family – your kids are fed.You might be a family who doesn’t own a TV or you might have Disney Jr. on loop to babysit your kids so you can try and sneak in a shower at some point during the day – you’re kids are alright. My mom played movies for us before school every morning and the TV came on the minute we got home until we went to bed at night and I can tell you, my childhood was not marred. I don’t feel deprived of anything, and I didn’t develop ADHD or snit-social tendencies (although kids in my middle school might beg to differ on that last one). So, give yourself a break. Your kids will be fine.
- Do NOT compare yourself to other mothers and PLEASE, don’t compare your kids. Just as there are no two people alike, there isn’t a “right” way of parenting. Good for her for being cloth diaper/organic food/name-brand wearing/perfectly coiffed/in-shape mommy-of-the-year. I got a shower last night while my kids were eating Cheerios off the floor—Booyah!
- Finally, you could just ignore the “advice” that well-meaning bloggers give you. If your kids are happy, you’ve got it figured out. So keep on keepin’ on.
For me, my bottom line is this: I enjoy my kids most of the time, and I’m okay with that. I pray every night that my kids are happy, safe and healthy and that they become people of strong faith who know and love God. Beyond that, I’m not so sure anything else matters.
…Although don’t tell that to Ansley. She will tell you without question that being a princess totally matters.