Contemplating My Parenting Style
A Mother's Perspective
My son, Samuel, is 18-months-old (or a year and a half, you'll probably be hearing about him a lot), and I CANNOT TELL YOU how many mornings I have woken up to poop in his bed after he somehow ripped his diaper off in the middle of the night inside of his pants. When he wakes up, I shuffle across the hall to his room, and see him playing in poop. By the way, my son wakes up usually between 4:30-5. Yes, that's the morning. He wakes up even before my husband goes to work. So I immediately take him to the bathroom, undress him, rinse him off in the tub, clean out the tub, and run him a bath. Every time. So after his early morning bath, clean diaper and clothes, we go get in my bed and watch Baby Bums on Youtube and cuddle. I make him eggs for breakfast every morning, but he has to have a pre-breakfast, which is usually a banana. Gee, wonder why my brother calls him a hobbit. All of this happens before 8 AM. I go to work, and come and get him. And this starts over every day this way (the poop part may happen once a week, but there for a while it was a struggle).
And then I decided to quit my job. Yeah, you heard me. I quit my job to stay home with my son, and I decided to keep a few more kids (yes I am crazy, thank you). I thought this would be magical; I would get to be with my son, and he would be able to play with other kids, and I could make a little bit of money. But it is day three, and I have quickly realized that it isn't as magical as I thought it would be, and maybe not for the reasons that you would think. Yes, kids eat a lot, have meltdowns, throw things, play loudly, and get whiny, but that is not the problem I have.
The problem is that I miss my alone time with my son. I miss those early morning cuddles that I sometimes miss out on now because I have three other kids to worry about. My time is divided between these other incredible tiny humans that I'm responsible for feeding, playing with, and making sure that they are generally happy. I love being able to color with the kids, hear them play, and braid the little girl's hair. But, I miss my alone time with my son. It is still magical in other ways though. I get to experience the joys and funny things of having three other kids in the house that want my time, love, and attention.
I asked them questions the other day about their favorite foods, movies, toys, and other things, and I love hearing how different they all are. I love that they use their imaginations and play with blocks. I love that they sometimes don't color inside the lines, or are so busy playing that they take a couple of bites at lunch and then run off to keep playing. And I love that Samuel gets to experience this too.
See, so much of my time as a parent is being spent making sure that my child is healthy, happy, loved, and learning. This has made me realize that maybe I am too Type A with my parenting. Maybe I discipline a little too much, and am overly concerned about making sure he eats a veggie with every meal. So, just hear me out. Maybe we should spend more time playing and coloring and using our imaginations together with our kids, instead of making sure that he knows the quadratic formula by fourth grade because we want our kids to be geniuses. If you already parent like this, a round of applause for you, seriously. It is hard for me to let go and let Samuel make messes and play with crayons, and not have a schedule for him.
But I am going to try from here on out to allow him to be much more creative and free to make some decisions about whether he wants to be learning or playing or coloring or cuddling on the couch. I am going to make a conscious effort to enjoy my time with him, and let go of all of these unrealistic parenting goals I have set for myself. Because out of all of the best memories I have as a kid, none of them include learning long and short division by fourth grade.