Stop it! I couldn’t resist. Someone had fun playing dress up with his sister. Tee hee.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time and wondering how to word it so I wouldn’t offend or seem like I am preaching. Talking about and discussing parenting strategies is a hot button issue. We all have our way of doing things and we all believe (and hope!) that what we are doing is the right thing. I struggle with decisions daily, sometimes hourly. I think one of the hardest parts of motherhood is the amount of information available, but never really knowing which is the right way to do things. Options abound for every decision we make and I know I have made many wrong choices in my short 5 years of motherhood. Every time I feel like I have made it, that I am going to be okay, something changes. I play it by ear and make decisions in moments and fret and worry if it is okay.
I am a schedule girl. We have a routine that we live by and in the earlier days when I had two babies under 17 months this schedule did not move. It was set in stone and it worked. I found I had to be tougher than wanted to be, had to do things that were better for them and harder for me. I have always found that the hardest way to accomplish something is the best. Sleep training, weaning from bottles and pacifier’s, potty training, temper tantrums, endless times of having to leave somewhere because the kids just weren’t handling it. Luckily (or unluckily?) for my kids, I am pretty stubborn. I am willing to do the dirty work to make them good people. I will be harder than they want, make rules they don’t like, enforce chores and television limits, keep them from doing things their friends are doing. They may hate me sometimes growing up, and I am okay with that! My most important job is to help shape people who will be productive, kind, helpful to others. So many things I wish for my children, I could fill a book. They are my legacy and I mean to do well by them.
On that (long winded) note, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a conservative mom. I guess I am just old fashioned? I don’t have an iPad playing at the dinner table and have no apps on my phone for my kids. We keep a bucket of books in the car to pass the time (though we WILL have a DVD player for that loooong drive to Michigan) and try to listen to music more at home instead of the TV. I am not a fan of video games or toys that don’t seem wholesome to me. I carefully screen movies and shows that contain inappropriate things and try to stay away from any TV channels with commercials. I won’t let my daughter get that string bikini she saw in Target, or paint her nails red. My son isn’t allowed to play violent games with his friends or pretend to shoot people and I don’t envision myself letting him play with video games any time soon.
I make a point about talking to Molly (and Brady) about beauty being on the inside as well as outside, that being a good person trumps any superficial beauty. I’m not stupid. I realize these things will catch up to her. She loves clear lip gloss and pretty clothes and the fact that her friend next door gets to say things and do things that she isn’t allowed to. I get it. I love fashion and pretty things and all that comes with womanhood. I relish the day of teaching Molly and Brady all the fun things that come with growing up. I guess I just want to keep them innocent as long as possible. I want my children outside playing, reading books and doing puzzles on a rainy day, making up plays in their rooms in the morning. I want them to be little.
I know there will come a day when they will be asking to do things that they see their friends do, and I will think about it carefully. I hope to be realistic about letting them grow up and experience things and not stifle them. However, I am their mom and I am not interested in letting them do things because it is cool or because other moms allow something. I have to do what I think is best.
I hope I come across as saying that this is how I parent. I am not slamming those that allow anything I’ve mentioned above. We all do what we think is best. There is no right or wrong way. I have friends and family that allow more (or less) than me and they are doing it brilliantly! I am in awe of those around me and the dedication they bring to parenthood. I think we all pick our battles. Some of us focus on nutrition, others on fitness, others on creating an environment free of television. I’m stricter on technology and age appropriate things, less strict about cupcakes at school parties and 3 hours of cartoons on Saturday.
I know I grew up without a lot of the things available today (and boy does this make me feel old!) I happen to like limiting technology for my children and their exposure to it. We all know how addicting and powerful it can be. I struggle every day trying to balance a mostly online life that is really important to me and my real life that is equally as important.
I want things to be wholesome and innocent for my children as long as I can. These precious beings were given to me fresh and new and I want to do right by them. There is so much I cannot control about the world and what they see, but for now I can shelter them.
Note: I struggled with publishing this post in the wake of all that happened in Boston today. I am from a town 40 minutes from that amazing city and have many family members from that area. In the end I concluded that the people that do horrifying things to us in this nation want us to stop what we are doing, want us to be scared and afraid to live. I don’t want to live like that.
There are good people out there, people that rush to help when others are running away. I choose to think of the good in people and not give those that wish to destroy us any attention.
Thinking of those in Boston tonight and wishing hope and strength for those affected and for first responders.