I recently told my husband that I feel like I used to be a much better parent than I am now.
I think back to when my kids were little, and I remember smiles, snuggling, making home made play dough, blowing bubbles outside, making cookies, reading stories, and having all day jammie days. It seems like time moved so slowly back then, and that I was able to sit back and just soak it all in. Today, time moves so fast. And as I spend much of that time in the drivers seat chauffeuring my kids to numerous events, practices, and games, I don’t know if I get that feeling of connection and soaking in the moment as often as it seems I did when they were small.
I think it’s maybe that I felt like a more successful parent when they were younger. When they were little, it was not hard to make them happy, I had all the tools. These days, I can longer longer fix a grumpy kid by going for a drive until they fall asleep, so that they then wake up happy.
It seems like now I am the guard dog at times, and they are trying to break in. And honestly, that is their job as they get older, to push and see where they can get to, in order to learn limits. To walk that tight rope of independence, as I try and keep the net operational below.
My kids are great, I am very proud of them. They are loving and wonderful, smart and caring. But, I have a teenager, a pre teen, and a tween. All those labels come with their own set of instructions and needs.
It isn’t necessarily easy with the ages that my kids are now. I can’t really send them to time out for two minutes, or take away a Rescue Hero if there’s an issue. I’m up against so much more than a tired toddler. The amount of why questions today are almost more than when they were little and asking their ‘why is the sky blue’ questions. Although now, it’s ‘Why can’t I?’ And, ‘Why not?’ I can’t always come up with clever crap that will pacify them anymore, it has to be real answers that make sense with my explanations. And then, at times when I have nothing left, I resort back to ‘Because I said so.’
When they were little, there was no checking out of real time and losing hours on the internet, it wasn’t available as it is today. Now, I have to decide which apps are appropriate for my kids, how much time is acceptable to zone out on their devices, and hope (and check up) that they are following the rules. Social media apps and I don’t see eye to eye when it comes to my kids. I see many as invitations to problems. So, I say no to most. And then comes the backlash of being the ‘only one‘ without (enter in the social media app of the week here) in the whole school.
Clothing is another issue. I just can’t go for some of the things that young girls wear for my kids. It’s not enough that everyone is wearing them.
When I put my foot down and will not bend on some of these issues, the looks that are supported by what seems as disgust, (with no other word coming to mind to describe what I see in their eyes), can be hurtful. Issues my kids face and bring up make me question myself with every cell in my body at times, but in the end, I’d be cheating myself if I went against my beliefs, and that would feel much worse than dealing with a disappointed child. Because once I cheat myself, it would be very easy to cheat again, and my kids would know me to be a cheater on my own morals and beliefs, in addition to being wishy washy and willing to change my mind.
This shit is hard. And it’s going to keep going.
I clearly remember conversations that my friend and I had as our kids were young. Talking about how hard it was to have toddlers and young kids, yet as tiring, testing, and frustrating it was at times, that we knew we were in for a different type of hard when our kids entered these older ages. We were right. This is a different type of hard. There are so many outside influences now, when before their influences were primarily mom and dad.
I continue to kiss my kids, and hug them, and tell them I love them, and how much they matter every day. They need to know that’s constant, even if we don’t see eye to eye at times.
I know I’m not as popular with my kids at times as I have been in the past. Not allowing our kids to do something because it’s way out of what we feel is acceptable for our family, and out of our comfort zone, even though their good friends are doing it, does not leave us as popular in the eyes of or kids. I miss being popular in their eyes. Although, I feel it will come back, I have faith that it will. I hope in the end, I give them the lesson of sticking with what you feel is right, even when that is not popular.
There is a ton of fun through the challenges of guiding our kids into responsible, respectable older people. I don’t want to paint a picture of doom and gloom. It’s hilarious to be able to share jokes and laughter with my kids as they are now older, that rival any belly laugh I’ve ever had. To listen to music and watch movies together, to share interests together, we are able to relate, that’s cool. And I’m sure, as I have with my past chapters in my life, I will primarily remember the good parts, recall how great they were, and continue to appreciate the moment that I am in.
It’s all a gift, my kids, my husband, all the stages of this family life are gifts. It’s just that some of the gifts happen to be loud toys that you want to hide the batteries from!
I had the tools to successfully care for my kids at their youngest of ages, and I’m no quitter, I’ll continue to acquire new tools for my tool box and figure out how all this works as I go. My husband and I are on the same page on all of these major items, so thankfully, I can count on him to come in with the heavy earth moving machinery and tools when necessary.
Looking back and feeling like I was a better mom when my kids were younger, I at times have questioned whether all of my mom award worthy moments have already occurred? And I realize this is an unfair criticism of myself. I know this is my mind playing tricks on me, but this parenting thing has a tendency to bring out your inner perfectionist, even though perfectionist and parent are two words that aren’t realistic when put together.
Maybe I felt different when they were little because they affirmed their love and approval throughout the day, every day, ‘Mama, pick me up’, and ‘I love you’ on repeat, so nice. Now, I don’t think I could pick up my kids for more than a 10 second interval, but when the ‘I love you’ moments come, or the spontaneous hugs arrive, they are golden. The actual quality time we do spend together is deeply felt and appreciated. This last week, my tween and pre teen were so excited when I asked if I could snuggle with them in bed. And my big teenager is never too busy or too old for a hug, even if its the third of the day. I have to work to create these moments at times, and time seems to go so much faster than it used to, but there are still moments that I get to soak in.
I love these crazy kids of mine, their strong mindedness, their wit, their humor, their kindness, their passion, and their love for others. These things have always been there, these traits are growing up as my kids are now too.
It used to be, for me, feeling successful as a mom was to bake some cookies together, go to the park, maybe get out some Legos and Barbies and put on a Dora DVD together, and snuggle (can we do that just for a day again please?) These days, the theme of being in the moment is what I feel when I need to focus upon something. And as long as I continue to be in the moment with these little offspring of mine, I sure hope that I will have plenty opportunities to be a successful and awesome mom.