BEST OF THE MESS ◽ ENCOURAGEMENT
Our writer for this column is pregnant and needs a rest this month – totally understandable! So I’ve snagged her column to encourage you young moms that read. I’m happy to do so, because being a mom of littles is the most rewarding yet taxing job there is – and not many accolades come your way! Before I write further, I’m applauding you for being a mom, praying for you that your kids will sleep at night, and smiling at you for being a hero to your family!
We recently visited with a young couple, as they visited and shared with us at our Oscar Party! They are one of our favorite couples, and they have a young daughter, three years old. As we watched the show, I observed both of them try to keep their daughter occupied, train her well by sitting her in time out until she was “ready to change her attitude,” and love on her and smile when she danced around or said something cute. Family life, right? They also had to fix her a plate, clean up her messes, take her to the bathroom, etc. and that activity NEVER ceases for parents.
We were chatting with them about friends and getting together with other couples with kids, and as I listened, I remembered the hardships of having good friendships when our kids were little. Getting together with other couples and trying to visit is like setting a romantic table in the middle of a lion’s den – the roars and the chaos that ensues is unbearable! You end up going home, wondering why you tried that! I also recall a period of time where we just quit going to “gatherings” like church picnics, and large “fun” days at the park – because one of us ended up on the playground watching our kids while the other one got to visit. And the one at the playground was not in such a good mood when we left, because there was no point in going!
I don’t really miss those young days of sleepless nights, constant pottying and cleaning and serving and doing, because they’re tiring and I’ve never forgotten them! I also don’t miss the competition of trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing and trying to make sure my kid is getting the best, in a world where bandwagon parenting reigns.
Here are a few things I recall and still observe today, and then I’ll give you my spin on it, now that decades have passed.
Those moms don’t ever let their kids sleep in their bed, but you do and you enjoy it.
Those parents allow no television except on weekends, and you love watching a movie with your kids.
Those kids say “yes ma’am” to every question, and your kids just give mean stares.
Those moms only shop at thrift stores, and you despise the stench and rather love all things new.
Those parents only serve carrots and celery to their children, and you love to take your kids to McDonalds!
Those kids’ rooms are spotless, decorated so perfectly, and your kids’ rooms – well, no comment.
There are probably at least a dozen encounters and observations you parents make per week where your kids don’t measure up, your parenting skills are called into question in your own minds, and those kids make your kids look like heathens.
If there’s anything I’ve noticed is that what works for YOUR family is what’s best and right for YOUR family. Oh, it’s fine to pick up a new habit IF it suits you. But never be part of the crowd that joins in some sort of practice with your kids due to pressure, feeling less-than, or being afraid to be different.
I didn’t breast feed my kids and I got comments and looks. However, breast feeding didn’t work (I didn’t like it!) for me, and my kids turned out just fine. We never had a “play room” that many moms said were a must in their houses, and our kids never suffered from that “lack.” My son ate chicken and fries until he was in his 20’s and he’s healthy as a horse.
My point is that others and what they do or don’t do is never to be your standard or measuring stick. You have your kiddos and your family and your life – apart from the lives of those in your circle. Enjoy your friendships and conversations, but don’t get sucked into the competitive parenting mode. It will not be a good example to your kids, and it will only give you ulcers.
See something good you’d like to try with your kids, because it sounds awesome? Go ahead. See something that sounds absurd and only makes you nervous? Skip it.
Life’s too short to ride in bandwagons and on coattails. Let your kids see you parent and love them in ways that are special and unique to your family, and enjoy your life together…with oreos or celery…whatever…or a little of both.
Just be sure you brush their teeth before they hit the hay…that’s probably good advice on any given day!