Posted on | March 19, 2014 | 20 Comments
Let me preface this with, I love my children. I adore them. I think they are the smartest, cutest, most loving children that have ever walked this earth. And most of all, every time I look at them, I am reminded of the fact that I loved my husband enough that I wanted part of him to grow inside me for nine months, give me heart burn and stretch marks and thirty extra pounds, and then expel that child from my body and live the rest of my life terrified that something would happen to that child or that I would fail in my parenting. I was willing to spend every waking (and sleeping moment) worrying over these little beings and who they would become and how I could be the best mom I could be simply because I love, painfully and fully, love my husband and could not imagine life without children created by us.
With that being said, if one more person posts a guilty-inducing diatribe about how I should “Enjoy this childhood magic,” and “Never rush my babies,” and “Let your children run your damn life.” Or if one more person touches my hand and warns me, “Enjoys these years…” I’m going to punch someone in the vagina.
I get it. Childhood is beautiful and magical. I remember pretending I was a horse and prancing around the yard (an act that would surely win me a spot on TLC’s “Strange Addictions” as an adult). I jumped out of a two-story barn without the knowledge of my parents. I once pretended that a jar of “Gak” was actually an alien. I had sea monkeys and named them. Okay, so maybe I was just weird. But childhood was magical to me.
And you know what? My parents weren’t lenient. They weren’t overbearing, but they expected kindness of me. They expected obedience and age-appropriate discipline. I wasn’t allowed to talk back. I wasn’t allowed to be late. I wouldn’t have gotten away with a harsh word or eye-roll, and yet, my childhood was still magical.
I wasn’t perfect. In fifth grade, my best friend and I called a girl on a triple line and tried to get her to say mean things about each other. In middle school, I cheated at Accelerated Reader and got caught taking tests for my friends so they could attend the AR end-of-year party. In high school, two girlfriends and I got caught drinking. And these are just the moments in which I was caught. There were probably countless others that weren’t pretty or anything to be proud of that I just happened to slip by my parents (sorry y’all). Each and every time I got caught, my parents taught me a lesson. I learned the importance of being kind to others. I was taught the grace of forgiveness. I learned the hard line of honesty and doing what’s right. And I learned the difference between a “bit of fun,” and hurting others. And in the end? All those times I wasn’t caught, I carried the weight of what I deserved. I learned right and wrong, and I am forever grateful.
My parents didn’t have articles condemning them for “stifling” my independence. Or shaming them for raising their voices when I crossed a line. I learned the pain of hurting others. Of disappointing my family. They didn’t have someone whispering in their ear that I would be forever damaged because they asked me to “hurry up” or fussed at me for refusing to stop touching something in an antique store.
Every time I discipline my children, a tiny person whispers in my ear, “Make childhood magical!” or “Show them kindness always!” or “YOU SUCK AS A PARENT BECAUSE YOU’RE ANGRY THEY JUST EXPLODED YOGURT EVERYWHERE!”
And here’s what I think.
Let your babies finger paint. But it’s okay to teach them that painting the walls isn’t “creative expression.” It’s a good way to make mama have to scrub walls. Let them play outside, but it’s okay to snatch up a baby’s arm as he throws a fit because he doesn’t want to come in for supper. Enjoy and entertain their stories and questions, but the world isn’t going to end when you ask for a moment of silence in traffic because you can’t concentrate on driving and answering for the sixth time why firetrucks exist.
My babies are beautiful and unique creatures, and I want to grow their personalities in every way. But my top two worries as a parent are 1) keep my babies safe and 2) help them grow into adults who aren’t assholes.
Sometimes that means I have to raise my voice. Sometimes that means I have to do time out fifteen times before noon. Sometimes that means I snatch up crayons and take them away for the day. And sometimes it means we spend two hours at the playground instead of the thirty minutes I really have. Sometimes it means I spend some extra time cleaning up sprinkles from cookies decorated by tiny fraternity boys. Or I wash grass stains out of Easter clothes. There’s such a balance, it’s a fight to maintain that balance, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let one more blog post make me feel guilty for doing what I have to do to raise decent humans.
So for all you mamas out there who have read a blog from a holier-than-thou parent who feels they are qualified to explain to you all the ways you are wrong, cheers. Pour a glass of wine, and know you are not alone. I’m right here, reliving another long day, and thanking God for keeping my babies alive and my mind (mostly) in tact.