One thing I've always struggled with is parenting. We aren't given a manual when we have kids and even if we were, what's right for one isn't always right for the other. When I found out I was pregnant with our oldest, I started thinking back to my childhood. What would I change if I could. What would I keep the same. What did I wish were different and what was I glad to have had?
First of all, to clear the air, my mom usually reads all my posts and I'm sure this one will be no different. I love my mom and today, she is one of my best friends. We had to make it through a very difficult time together and ironically, something so very hurtful brought us closer. My mom was a great mom but there were things that I felt I missed out on that I wanted to change for my children. I'm so very grateful she was as strict as she was...my father too. I'm sure there were times back then that I didn't feel that way but they did a pretty good job of protecting my innocence and keeping me safe. Having 2 girls and remembering what it was like to be a girl growing up, I knew though, that there were some changes to be made.
When I was growing up, my daddy was the "nurturer". Which is not common for most men. Even those daddy's who's little girls think they hung the moon. Very few of us daddy's girls had daddy's that talked to us when we were going through breakups or were just really sad or just needed a listening ear....but my daddy did. A role that moms usually play, my dad stepped in and played. Not because my mom wasn't a good mom but my mom's personality wasn't the same as mine. Very few people have family members all with the same personality. My mom was a busy woman. I was the youngest of 5 mouths she had to feed and the youngest of 5 kids she had to do laundry for and clean up after. Not only did she have the "yours, mine, and ours" 5 but she kept everyone elses kids too! She loved and she loved big but she loved in her own way. Looking back (and I'm saying this with ALL love mom!!!!) I fell like she was kind of burned out. She was the second born of 8 kids and the oldest of the girls so ALL of her life, she had a lot on her plate! All the chores that came with being the oldest born girl raised on a farm. She was momma #2. One of her baby sisters even told people that my mom was her mother. hahaha!! Then she went through a marriage that had it's hardships. I won't go into those details but there was a lot of hurt there and a lot of trust lost. She had daycare in her home so she could be home with her kids so in my younger years, during the day, she was taking care of everyone elses kids and at night, she was taking care of all of us and getting dinner on the table for when my dad got home, making sure everyone got their baths and did their homework so sometimes, I felt like I got lost in the shuffle. I didn't get to be in the kitchen making cut out cookies with my mom, I was playing with and entertaining babysitting kids. I remember my dad and my sister and my oldest brother helping me with my preschool books getting me ready for school the next year. I remember my sister and my Aunt Becky playing with my hair, playing barbies with me, playing "dress up" (mostly just makeup) with me. I remember my sister walking me to the park and putting flowers in my hair. Things a little girl wants to do with her mom from time to time, I felt I was getting from my sister Lori, my Grandma, my Daddy and my brother Doug. Again, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my mom!!! But I did miss doing those things with her. I don't feel we had much one one one time when I was growing up. It was my dad that came into my room when I went through my first ugly break up to give me a hug and wipe my tear and tell me everything was going to be OK and I should stay away from those hairy legged boys anyway because they are nothing but trouble. He told me I should wait until I was 30 to get married and he would dance at my wedding. <3
My parents (neither one of them) told me about...."growing up". "the Change". Thankfully, they covered that pretty thoroughly in 4th and 5th grade so when that time came, I knew what was going on. My parents (neither one of them) sat down and talked to me about sex and how babies are made. That talk was pretty much summed up like this at home...."Sex is bad outside of marriage so don't do it. If you do, bad things will happen." Period. End of story. haha. No in depth birds and the bee's talks. Thankfully, my home Church had a GREAT "Worth the wait" program and they also covered this topic at Youth Camp. I pretty much knew I wanted to wait until my wedding night.....unfortunately, that choice was taken from my hands by a man that thought I was his property.
I don't remember getting to much information on finances and how to manage them. I wasn't shown how to do laundry. My first experience in laundry was in college. I had watched my mom separate the colors so I knew to do it that way and thankfully, college washing machines are like laundry mat washing machines so if you can read, it was pretty self explanatory.
So, when we had our children, I learned from how I was raised what I wanted to repeat and what I wanted to change. I know I'm far from perfect. I have a little bit of my mother impatience (she doesn't remember getting short with us and yelling but I have a VERY trustworthy friend back up my claims and says mom is just suffering a memory issue! ;) ) It wasn't just her....if my dad got upset enough he would yell at you that he wasn't yelling. LOL!!! What I wouldn't give to hear that just one more time. It always broke the tension because it would make us laugh. It was quite funny that you can sit there and yell that you aren't yelling and not realize you are really yelling. : P I find myself doing the same thing. Though much less frequently now that I've realized it. And lets face it...sometimes you have to yell just to be heard. Have you ever hear 3 kids who are all 2 years apart going at each other at the same time or trying to tattle at the same time? It's one loud chaotic mess and no one can hear anything. So, I've consciously made an effort to find my happy place before correcting my children. I try to make a conscious effort to allow them to help in the kitchen from time to time. I've started teaching them to sort laundry (though I should have them do that more often). I try and make an effort to pull my kids onto my laugh and let them know I love them and that I'm proud of them and why I'm proud of them. I've even had to already have the "growing up" talk with my oldest! She's showing signs that it won't be long and I wanted her prepared before it just happens and she took it very maturely. One thing that little talk taught me is that when we show enough trust in our kids to hand those types of discussions maturely, it opens up a door of communication and they are more willing to come to you with things they want to talk about. I LOVE that! I pray that stays that way.
But it's not just our past we have to learn from and fight. Our society! Our world!! WOW!!!! The things I loved doing as a child are now almost extinct! Playing dolls and barbies, building forts, riding bikes, climbing tree's! It's all being replaced by TV, movies, game boys, PSP's, DS3's Wii's, iPods, iPhones, Computers and on and on and on. We live in an electronically crippled world. Not crippled because we are lacking in it but crippled because we rely on it too much!! From the time Jeremy and I got married until Olivia was 6, we never had a game console in our home. Now we do. We recently changed the rule to no Wii on school nights because our kids fight over it! "He killed me on purpose! She stole my penquin!" (super mario here ) and the fighting got AWFUL!!!! I was losing my sanity! So, I took a step back and analyzed what was going on and decided that we are really hurting our kids by letting their time be filled with games and television! If it weren't for my hubby's adamant protesting, I'd be ok with not having a TV. We are grown up and now how to view our favorite shows on line should we choose but our kids are only kids once. We've been trying to make a conscious effort to kick them out more. As in out in the yard to play! To get them in scouts and activities that will help grow their imaginations and love for the outdoors instead of turning them into Hollywood fed robots! Learning to be nurturing is one thing....I naturally have a big heart but sometimes I expect Jeremy do more of the "coddling" when someone needs some extra attention. I'm stopping that cycle. I'm going to not just be my kids mom but their friend too! There is a happy balance. There is a time for "momming" and a time for "friending" and hopefully they'll always see me as both but having to fight outside influences isn't always easy.
My biggest piece of advice (to myself too!) is limits and responsibilities. For us, that's no TV or games on school nights. If homework is done in time, outside you go. (this season is a little different. some of the best Christmas movies are on during the week). Quality time is a HUGE key!! Date your kids! I think little boys need one on one time with mom and one on one time with dad. Same with little girls! Have family game night! Do things as a family. Don't get so busy in YOUR electronics that you leave your kids to entertain themselves and each other.
If we put more of God IN and the world out, we'll be Godly parents raising Godly kids in this ungodly world!