I’ve been a mom for 9.5 years and while it’s gone by extremely fast it’s long enough for me to have learned quite a few lessons. I’m pretty sure I have 1 million more to learn and I have no doubt I’ll learn them the hard way, especially once those pesky teenage years approach. So today I thought I’d share a few lessons I’ve learned so that you can relate, be inspired, or maybe just have a good laugh.
You can’t control another human being. So this is probably the hardest yet quickest lesson you learn as a parent. As parents we so desperately need to control and micromanage our children. After all we have to keep them from running out into the street, choking on hot dogs, and making all sorts of careless decisions. We must be authoritative and show them “who’s boss” so that when there is a time when they NEED to listen to us they will. There is no guidebook on how to do this and no instruction manual. There are 100 different approaches ranging from “putting the fear of God into them” all the way to “being their best friend instead of a parent.” I am certainly not here to pass judgment or tell you which is right or wrong because honestly that is completely up to you and your kid. However, if you’re hoping for some sense of control….you’ll never get it. Little people are humans just like us big ole adults and they will do everything in their power to not be controlled. After all, it’s human nature to survive….survive ALONE…so there is no room for dependence on someone else. We are preconditioned to figure it out and depend only on ourselves to get by. Now over time some of this changes but all in all we are not really built to follow other people and listen to what THEY think is best for us. Trying to be understanding of this when your 2 year old is throwing a massive fit about Big Bird in the middle of Target is difficult….and super annoying. But alas, the quicker you accept it the better off you’ll be.
In 10, 20, 30 years your child will be EXACTLY how they were when they were born. Yes, they’ll have grown into adults but their personalities will be practically identical. All of my children’s personality were literally shown to me the first few hours they were born….you just don’t realize it until a few years later. It’s fun to look back and realize, after the fact, that they are so perfectly the same. In some ways this is even a relief because some traits they really are “just born with” and it gives you the ability to give up that constant need to control we talked about above. Your child may not be exactly how you pictured or envisioned but they are uniquely them and there is no other like them. That is beautiful and wonderful and a miracle in and of itself. So even when they are giving you a run for your money realize that there is always something in there that can be nurtured for good even when they are using it for bad in the moment.
Every single one of your kids will be and should be parented differently. Whoa Alecia, slow your roll. Say What? Trust me when I say you really can’t parent any two kids alike because they are all very different. What works for one will not work with another and visa versa. We have found that we punish all of our children differently because they all react to different things in a different way. We show some tough love, while others more compassion, we expect more out of some than others etc. Now this may sound mean but it’s really not. It’s catering to that childs’ personality and what they are going to benefit and learn from most. If I’m doing the same thing with all my kids and not getting any results then I’m not doing anyone a favor. I’m not teaching that child respect, or any life lesson – instead I’m practicing one size fits all approach that is probably going to bite me in the booty someday.
Don’t rush the stages. When our kids are little we often get caught saying “I can’t wait” until they do such in such. We are so anxious for them to crawl and then walk and then ride a bike and then be able to be completely independent. While all of these stages are so fun and super exciting to watch and participate in we often are so anxious for the next stage to arrive that we are completely missing the current one we are in. Parenting is made up of MANY phases and not all are pleasant but when we are constantly looking ahead we aren’t able to see what is right in front of us. Your kid WILL crawl and walk and talk and then you’re going to wish for those days when you could just set them down without them sticking something in their mouth or for blissful silence when they are asking what color the sky is for the 100th time that day. My point is that each stage brings it’s own set of stressors that we didn’t anticipate so ENJOY THE MOMENT because this current moment will pass and you’ll get to the next. However, you might just find yourself longing to be right back where you are, right now, this very second. So pause, breathe and soak it all in. These really are the days.
You don’t always have to like your kids. Okay so call the parent patrol cause I just said that out loud. Look I LOVE my kids more than life itself and would do anything for them, however, like and love are very different things. When my kid has peed his bed for the 100th time, destroyed his room, hit his brother, and pulled a serious attitude with me….no I don’t like him in that moment. I love him but I sure as heck don’t like him. Quite frankly he’s being a little jerk and I need to take that moment to teach him about respect. However, this doesn’t make him a bad person just like that doesn’t make me a bad mother. It means that there are times when we just aren’t going to like how our children are behaving and what negative choices they are choosing to display just like they aren’t always going to like me as a parent. When I’m grumpy from sleep deprivation and snapping at everything who is breathing the wrong way in the house, guess what?! Nobody likes me that day and they shouldn’t….heck I don’t even like me on those days. I usually think I’m acting like a crazed witch. So you get my point. Give yourself a break if you find you really don’t like your kids sometimes, it’s normal, it’s okay and quite frankly to be completely expected.
Children will not wither and die if they are not entertained. I’m not sure when the expectation started that we must constantly be entertaining our kids but I say shame on whoever started that thought. Look, I would love to sit and play games and eat popsicles while doing sidewalk chalk all day every day but it’s not realistic. I don’t care if you’re a stay at home parent, working parent or something in-between – this isn’t even close to realistic. There is laundry and housework and paperwork and errands and a ton of other things that HAVE to be done. Yes, there is balance and sometimes blowing bubbles is more important than a load of laundry. But if everything, every day is more important than laundry then there are no clothes and everyone is wearing filth. We feel enormous pressure to schedule play dates, and take our kids to all the local fun houses, and make sure they are fully entertained all summer long with pool days, water guns, and anything else their heart desires. We are expected to have them in every activity even if it means we are running around like crazy people from one thing to another barely stopping to eat or even breathe. This is insane and absolutely ridiculous. I throw my kids outside all the time and make them play by themselves. Does this make me a bad mom? No, I don’t think so. This gives me time to get things done and it teaches them independence. I’m not going to solve all their problems so they need to figure it out, I’m not a source of entertainment so they need to figure out how to keep themselves occupied and I’m not some monkey on a chain they can just yank for fun. I’m their mom who works hard to keep everything running smoothly and that means that they have to do their part too, which is keeping themselves occupied, however, they see fit. Life is full of boredom and monotony and the sooner they realize how to make the best of it the better off they’ll be.
Kids fight ALL THE TIME. The amount of bickering, arguing, fighting, hitting, slapping, wrestling and yelling that goes on between my boys is enough to give me grey hairs. It used to bother me cause I used to think I was a horrible mother who’s children were out of control. Now I just realize most if it is a true “boy thing” and that I’m better off just staying out of it. Boys are confusing little creatures but if they want to just duke it out with a fist or two then fine…more power to them. At least they’re over it in about 5 minutes, unlike girls who hold onto things for years. Sometimes I’d rather just have the bloody nose. There will always be sibling rivalry as long as there are siblings and when you’re little thats kind of what you live for. Your biggest competition at that time is your sibling so you’re constantly doing something to one up them. If I interfered in this all the time that’s all I would do and it would amount to the biggest waste of my time. They’re going to bicker and fight no matter what so as long as it’s not out of control – let em have at it.
Kids are still your pride and joy no matter what phase, stage, age or trial you may be going through with them. We’ve gone through some tough times with our kids but the phase ends, we all move on and at the end of the day you wouldn’t actually trade it for anything on earth.