Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Boys, Happy Mom

I take pride in my job, my number one job of mother.  How do I know i'm doing a good job?  My boys are happy.

They wake up happy, they smile at me all day long and surprise me with "Mommy, I love you!"  throughout the day.  I need that, it's my paycheck bonus.  It's my 'good job' pat on the back from my boss.  Not to mention the reassurance I get from my husband, who knows when I need to hear 'you are a good mom, we are so lucky to have you.'  I know I am blessed with this beautiful family, I know how lucky I am.

But motherhood is hard, it's strenuous, its full time plus double overtime and then some.  There are days that these smiling faces are piles of blubbering disaster and they have no explanation for why and I take on the blame, I get the screaming and crying and more recently feet stomping or pouting... all of it wrapped up with a bow and a big gift tag that says 'surprise, just for you!'

Just like in the real world when your boss screams at you without cause, or because your boss got kicked by their boss, your job as a mother is to take it, accept it, smile and say I'm sorry, let's make it better.  But I don't want to smile, I want to lay on the floor and cry, or scream, or cry and scream... or get a new job.  That isn't really an option, so I take the screaming and say tomorrow will be better.  I tell my little bosses, tomorrow will be sunshiny and remember that just 5 minutes ago they loved me to the sun and back.

Yes, parenting has it's challenges, nothing will change that.  But your choices as a parent will determine how easy your job is.  My mother recently told me about troubles at her work, and while we laugh at how stupid her boss is and talk about how she should find a new job, she also admits that she doesn't handle the altercations well.  I am proud that my mom will stand up for herself, but she knows if she just smiles and says "sorry, I'll do it your way" when her boss is throwing his temper tantrum her life would be much easier.

So where is the balance?  How do you make your job easier without pissing off your boss?  That's a tough question at work or in parenting.  But I think the answer, while hard to implement is always be kind.  Don't tell your boss or child that they are wrong, don't yell NO, NO, NO at them.  They may be wrong, but what they are feeling should be validated first, they ARE having these feelings whether you think they should be or not,  and then they need to find a way to cope or an answer to their 'I don't know why i'm crying but I can't help myself'  problem.

I was recently given a parenting article that says in order to have your children gain independence you must say no to them all the time, refuse to do things for them, make them do it for themselves.  This article called the type of parenting where you help your children 'gateway parenting' and compared this type of parenting to drug use.  Well, the article was awful in my opinion.  We ALL want our kids to be independent and we fear that our children could end up drug addicts if we fail them as parents.  Coupling these two themes made the article resonate and I was almost sucked in to the advice.

I am proud to say that my children are incredibly independent for their age, they are two and four and love to do things for themselves.  When they struggle to do something and ask for help I will advise them on how to do it for themselves, I would never say NO I will not do it for you.  The difference in these two types of parenting is that my guidance gives them trust in me and trust in themselves.  If you tell them No you won't help them, they will internalize this negativity and believe "I can't do it and my mom won't help me."

My two year old was close to tears when he couldn't get his shoes on the other day, he has gotten use to putting on boots and couldn't understand the difference.  He doesn't often ask for help because he likes to do everything for himself, so he was mounting tears of frustration.  Instead of offering to do it for him   I took off my shoe and showed him how you have to put your fingers in the back to slide it on.  He then put his shoe on happily by himself.

It might be small things all day long, the boys love to do the buckles in the car seat.  They also like to pour their own milk, and spill the milk... sigh.  Sure, it would be easier to do everything for them, but whether you stand in the cold patiently while they fumble with the carseat buckle or tell them you need to do it quickly; let them spill the milk all over the table or pour it for them won't make a difference in the long run.  If you love your children and they know they are loved you are doing a good job.  Good job Mom!

We all want our kids to be happy, Attachment Parenting and Positive Parenting philosophies have offered me lots of tricks to make my job easier, and guides on fostering the independence of my children.  My wise friend Liza has suggested that as your children face the big rocks, the medium stones, and little pebbles in their path, walk beside them as a guide, that is our job.  They will find pride at the top of the biggest rock and kisses of comfort from the inevitable scraped knee and independence right at the fork.