Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Go easy, Mama.

This evening, we sat down to read the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with the littles.  Super sweet moment for us.

We did this before with Ryan.  He was a baby, and we were first time parents.  We read through the Chronicles of Narnia, Summer of the Monkeys, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I can't remember what else.  We'd each read a chapter out loud, sometimes two, every night while the other held and rocked our boy.

That's one of those things that made me want to slap everyone who said we just didn't talk to Ryan when he was a baby.  But I digress.

That was one of the sweetest times we had, and it's one of those things that could only happen with one baby.  Once he started sleeping in his bed, we didn't plan it, but the nightly reading stopped.  It's not a decision we made, it's not anything we sat down and discussed.  It just kinda... stopped.

There are some things we decide, then there are some things that happen whether or not we decide on them.

We didn't decide to quit sharing books we grew up with.  It just happened as Ryan began sleeping in his big boy bed, going to bed all by himself.

 Since we started with a diagnosis... since we moved here, had another baby, and so forth... it's been more surviving than deciding.  More pedaling through the day, trying to make sure everyone's diaper was changed the required amount of times, stayed safe, and maybe had a few happy minutes in the day.  Lots of hugs and kisses, and a few moments like the time Maelynn got into the bleach.

Yeah, that one just happened too.  Seriously you turn your head for a MINUTE and your year-old daughter has the child safety cap off the bleach.

Don't let that picture of the kids snuggled on Eric's shoulder fool you.  I failed the whole stay at home mom things by SO many standards.

Before you think I'm trying to fish for compliments, sympathy, or I'm going for false humility, let's get real.

There are ways we all failed it.

Whether you work or stay home, cloth or disposable diaper, organic or regular-food, homeschool or public or private school, there are things about parenting we'd all like to hide.  There are ways we've all blown it. There are things we forewent for sleep or sanity or just a few minutes alone.

And for 99% of us, I'd like to yell from the rooftops that IT IS OKAY.

The majority of us love our kids and do our best as a result.  And there are camps that all of us have joined to some degree or another.  As a result of those camps, we have reputations to uphold.  Little crosses to bear.  Decisions we've made for our kids for their best that aren't always easy for us... which makes it a sacrifice.

There are two problems with this.  The first is when we can't stop slapping other parents with our decisions.  Whether it's because you really think tap and dance is far better for your daughter's development than tumbling and cheer, or violin better than piano, or all of it should be chucked for soccer or peewee football, you're wrong.

If I try to tell you that your daughter, who loves and thrives in cheer, should be playing clarinet and you're destroying her, I'm wrong.  If you think I should yank my daughter from tap and ballet and put her in underwater basket weaving, you're wrong.  We know our kids best.  The majority of the time, we need to be supportive of each other and let each other do what we think is right for our kids.  Because anything else?  That is mostly hurtful and tears each other down.

The other end that hurts rather than helps is mostly internal.  This is for all of you who log onto Pinterest and scroll through, feeling rather less-than-great about what you do with your kids. There are so many great ideas, and after a little time scrolling it starts to seem like every other mama has made the sensory bins, cornstarch and baby oil playdough, and loves to paint with fingers and brushes, laughing so carefree as their children completely destroy the kitchen then track all that homemade stuff all over the house.

There are great things about you that your kids love.  Yeah, maybe they'd love the projects and making more messes.  But something I have to remember, especially as the daughter of a single mom who worked her tail off, is that you are who they want the most.  Yes, I may not have played with play doh or painted with finger paints much.  No, I didn't have hours at the park to play and I didn't take violin or piano, and honestly I only took dance till the studio accidentally burned down and mom didn't have time to find another one.

But we did play catch in the aisles at the grocery store in the middle of the night.

We did sit up for hours listening to her old records, while she told me stories of being a kid and when she heard this song and that, and when she bought this album and that.

We didn't hang out at the park, but we did go to some awesome concerts.

Our kids are our kids for a reason.  That doesn't mean that it will never be hard, or that they'll never wish they'd been able to do such and such like so and so gets to with HIS dad.  But it does mean that for the most part, our kids will love us for who God made us to be.

So go easy on yourself, Mama.  And I'll agree to do the same.  Because if each of us will, even just once, start letting another mom talk and not judge, maybe she'll get the idea and do the same.  Our pain, our exhaustion, our challenges and the ways we try to survive and live are not a competitive sport.

And for all of you who saw that picture of my kids snuggling their dad tonight, don't be fooled by the cuteness... you didn't see the mess behind the shot.  Ryan was snuggling with me, refusing to stop making noise while his dad read.  One of the kids, who shall remain nameless, wouldn't stop with the nose picking so I had to retake the shot a couple times.

Thanks be to God for making us all so different, yet so alike.

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