I’ve been thinking about my children lately – a son ready to head off to college within a year and a half, a daughter trying to convince me that prom is okay for a freshman, and a 7th grade son holding his own with the 8th grade team. Now that my head is at least beginning to emerge from the grad-school cloud, I realize just how much time I have NOT spent with them – how much they have grown up. All of them know how to cook, clean, and take care of themselves – is that because I wanted them to learn to be good roommates and eventually spouses – or because I was too busy to do it for them and they learned to survive?
The answer is probably somewhere in the middle – because I did want them to know more than I did when I left home. My poor husband! I could bake cookies and cakes – but ask me to boil water and I didn’t even know where to begin. Then again – he basically raised his sisters and younger cousins – so he knew what to do even if I didn’t.
As I am looking over this time in my life, I am trying to do some things differently. First, I am rejoining my family as a full member of the family – I have chores again! Meaning I’m giving myself chores that help me step back into the reality of family life. Each load of laundry or sinkful of dishes overwhelms me with gratefulness that my family has done these things for the better part of 9 years with very little input from me. I made breakfast – on a week day – one day last week. We all had to be ready for school and work and in the car, but I made breakfast anyway – in time to be on time too. The kids were amazed.
“Mom! You made breakfast? Oh, Wow – I love you!”
Although they all came to eat at different times – this was the reaction that all of them had. I was so glad to be a part of their morning – it took about ten minutes before the thought hit – did they think I didn’t know how to do that? Should I be insulted? But that was quickly wiped away by the joy I felt by being part of their day in a way that I hadn’t for so long.
I’m also trying to start having more mother/daughter time with my girl-in-the-middle. She is beautiful and so smart. But, being raised between these two boys and without much guidance from me these last few years – there are some rough edges that could use some womanly softness. Not to change her but to refine her – make the diamond shine. She has few options for friends that I would even come close to approving of – our rural town has few options for entertainment and that leads some of the younger citizens to seek excitement in ways that our family just doesn’t condone. The whole idea of prom as a freshman – does not sit well with me – and apparently it doesn’t sit well with several other parents based on the number of hits you get when you type in “too young for prom.”
I was looking for something with statistics or proof that would back me up – what I found was a huge number of wishy-washy parents who were asking for advice from chat sites and their blog readers. Now, I love a good comment – but I am NOT asking people that I don’t know for advice on what I should do with my kids. There are a few very close and very trusted individuals that I go to when I need that – and they are trusted because I know their morals, their values, their character, and their kids.
There are two reactions that I have to the whole experience – 1) I’m appalled that so many parents don’t have any confidence in their own decisions, and 2) I’m buoyed by the fact that I do know what I want for my kids. We all need advice every now and then, but in this day of social media we need to remember that advice should come from those we believe to be wise – it isn’t an opinion poll. If you really need the collective opinion of random surfers to help you parent – then you have more issues that the one that sent you to the polls in the first place. I’m not trying to be harsh to anyone – and if you have read the entire entry – you’ve seen that I am so NOT a perfect parent – I’m not judging your desires for your children. I’m just saying that we, as parents, need to clearly define the desires we do have for our children. Part of what made it possible for me to go to grad school and allow my family to take care of themselves was that I knew what I wanted for them – and I knew with certainty when that was being accomplished and when it wasn’t. And there were definitely times I had to call in the reinforcements – spouses and grandparents are wonderful when you need help!
So – Make up your mind – make decisions – and determine whether you can handle them or whether you need help – but know without a doubt what the outcome is that you want. How do you know if you are on the right road if you don’t know where you are going?