Mondays are for moms at HH. It's like the blind leading the blind.
I often think of myself as a generically good mom. I do all of the things I’m supposed to do. I love my kids with all of my heart and soul. I give them daily affirming words and affectionate touch. When needed, I discipline with a firm line. We do music class and go to the park and they have to eat dinner before dessert.
I do a lot of things “right.”
But then I think about what made my mom and dad such really good parents. It wasn’t because my mom served organic food (she didn’t, ever) or because my dad spent every Saturday tossing the ball with us in the backyard (he didn’t, ever). My parents were good role models for me because they were kind and decent people, who made our family their first priority but not their only priority.
I had to solo parent for the past week. So I went from being a barely present parent last month to being a fully focused mom. I admit that it was jarring. I had several moments when I was in tears. Nothing outrageous, just your average frustrations with a toddler, the clinginess of a baby, my own emotions scurrying around.
I got in trouble for putting sweets in my daughter’s preschool lunch and I pushed my son past his nap for two days out of five. But I also got us out and about for fun and productivity, and cooked meals and cookies. You win some, you lose some.
What I noticed this week, while speaking with my daughter about the mundane and the serious, is that her growing up forces me out of my parenting box. When your kids are tiny, there’s just not a whole ton that you can do beyond checking off the box of necessities. Are they fed? Check. Diapered? Check. Clothed appropriately? Check check. Make sure you’ve surrounded them with lots of love and you’re winning the day.
But now, three years into it, things start to carry a different weight. We’ve moved far beyond the checklist of survival. Pigtail is asking some big questions, and she’s listening to my answers. She’s often asking and listening over and over and over.
In theory, this responsibility scares me. Before I was a parent, the task of raising up a human seemed enormous. But in reality, no one else can speak to my kids like I can. No one else knows when to count ominously, “1...2...don’t make me get to 3” or when to kneel down with open arms. Someone else might guess. They would probably even guess correctly. Parenting isn’t rocket science. Still, they wouldn’t be in tune with my child in the same way I am, feeling about them the way I do. They’re as much a part of me as my feet or my fingers.
It’s not so much about what I’m doing “right” or “wrong,” or if there is even such a thing. Those choices are all subjective, yet it’s those things that get all tangled in our brain. The kisses on my baby’s neck, the words I choose in explanation to my daughter, how I treat myself and others, those are the things that shape my kids.
So I guess I’m not a generic mom, after all.
photo by Greer Inez