Parenting optional?


Let's be clear. I love my littles. It is my privilege to be their mom. And some days I'm even kinda good at it. But most days, I keep wondering when they're going to figure out... I know nothing. Seriously. Let me explain.

So, as an NI nurse and Mom of three little people under my belt (8,6,3) I know babies. I know the shit out of how to take care of babies. Because basically, if you're trying your best, you can't mess them up. Love them. Love ON them. Feed them. Bathe them. Change their diaper and clothes. Don't shake them when they cry and don't put baby in washing machine. It's about basics. So please. If you're overwhelmed with new mommyhood. I gotcha sister. And what i mean is... Call me and I'll come baby sit. And if they're under four months with that new baby smell, I'll do it for a box of wine and some Girl Scout cookies.

But now that my littles aren't so little, like I looked over and saw my three and half year old look like she was ready for kindergarten and my eight year old look like she was ready to go on her first date (my middle boy is and will always be my baby, and I keep his hair unruly for that reason) I was struck with a very sudden realization. Their shitty behavior at Jason's Deli has to be my fault. (alright, not so shitty, but still...) Bad enough to make me pause and realize if I'm failing somewhere... now's the time I can't fake being an awesome mom... all the time.

I'm not putting myself down. I am awesome. For reasons you will all come to learn and love, but we all have parts of ourselves we wish we could improve. My temper for 1. and 2. my love of the 'f' word. 3. the occasional - or too occasional use of the iPad for entertainment while i sleep to to recoup from work the night before. My children now reflect - for better or for worse - my parenting. A newborn baby cries... we get it. The baby has needs. Your school-aged child acts like a chimp on speed at Jason's Deli, it might have something to do with the fact I'm more lax than i should be at our OWN dinner table. Sometimes it's bc the kids are funny, and i want to encourage that - i love the funny - but mostly it's bc at the end of the ducking day... if they're eating a meal i prepared but acting like a shit, i consider it a won battle and just count the minutes to bedtime.

Last night at the family restaurant i'm sure plenty of people thought I'd failed at parenting somewhere, or simply havent parented well enough. But when my littlest turned around in the booth and said to the nice old lady behind us, 'Hi old lady, did you get mac -n- cheese too?' I laughed... Because in my little girl's mind she was just chatting and being friendly. She didn't ask about her darker skin, or why she had a dot on her face (A lovely Indian family had the joy of sitting behind us) she just saw an old woman, and to be fair, she's three, everyone is an old lady.

My biggest goal in life is to help these three humans to be good. Kind. Empathetic and helpful. There are continuum of those qualities sure, but for the most part, i just don't want them to be jerks. They wont be grown ups making silly noises and telling fart jokes at thirty with their friends at work... Just because you don't intervene and "parent" away every incident of "bad" behavior doesn't mean they're going to grow up and continue that pattern of "childish behavior". No parent starts to wean their baby off a boob, bottle, or pacifier because we dont want them to use it when they grow up.

So, coming full circle on my rant. Always be a parent, but parenting is optional. Intervening isn't always necessary. Putting the hammer and foot down wont always remedy poor decision making. Hopefully a few consequences will reinforce their ability to learn and rationalize for themselves. Mistakes happen and should happen when they're small. If we 'parent' too hard, make too many decisions for our children and prevent consequences ... they can grow up not even realizing how harsh they can be.


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