Adventures of family rearing with a stay at home mom... I have a little girl, a little boy, and a grown husband. I am temporarily retired while I "dabble" in this craziness... Story telling, the best way I know how.
My daughter has entered into the stage where she is beginning to periodically challenge the things that I say, just to debate with me... So much in fact, that we spent 15 minutes debating over the correct pronunciation of my real name... As if, after 36 years, I wasn't aware of how to say my name correctly... And sadly, it took the whole 15 minutes for me to realize how ridiculous I was for debating this with a 7 year old in the first place... Motherhood...
Once the dust from the morning settles, I come back to an empty home. My time here, by myself, is limited -As I spend the majority of my days in constant motion, running around between two different schools, home, errands, and the studio. I'm so busy, but yet, not busy at all -productively speaking. My life is centered around my children, but yet, my quality of time with them seems scarce. During the 181 days of the school year, our lives belong to someone else. We can't just pick up and leave whenever we want or take a day to sit outside in the sunshine, without having to explain ourselves -and in most cases, provide proof. Instead, we're caught in this repetitive cycle of stress, trying to fit everything into a four hour block in the evening... ...Trying to get our homework done, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, take baths, read stories, have a conversation about the day, go to dance and theater practice, and then, god-forbid, do something fun with just ourselves... All before going to sleep by 8:00 p.m. It pulls at my heart when I return home and see our kitchen table left with coloring books or activities we tried to do, before rushing out the door in the morning. I want so badly to hear their laughter and for them, to hear my full participation. Not only half of me, while I'm multitasking, because I'm trying to figure out how to fit in my next mandatory task. I miss the times when I didn't have to say the words, "not today" or, "there's not enough time" or even the infamous, "hurry up." I yearn so badly for a time when the hours belonged to us. When, we moved at our own pace and were able to take the time to breathe in the days -not hold our breath, as we sprint through the evening... And when, we didn't have a mental countdown (and possibly a physical countdown) until the last day of school.
Sadly, if I'm this burnt out with school and all that it encompasses, I can't imagine how all these children are feeling... **Anyone else feel this way? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you :)
I'm not sure how many times this dining room table has been lapped... Hundreds? Thousands? I cannot even fathom a figure... I could remember being on my hands and knees, crawling besides my little girl, when she first learned how to get herself moving. We would race around this table and she would crack me up by crawling under the table, to come out to the other side quicker than me... I can still hear her baby giggle echoing around my head, like it just happened yesterday... Then, she had this little radio flyer tricycle that she would pedal so fast, that I could never get a picture without it blurring... Countless big wheel rides and tag races... And the memory of my son running in his walker, while my daughter chased him in the cozy coupe... Then, the joint big wheel chases and the big kid bikes, and the roller skating, and all the twirls, and all the skips... This floor still has the original streaks that date back to that first lap... When I sit on my couch and stare off into this dining room, I'm immediately transported back to a time of utter chaos and noise. My brain willingly leaps backwards and the images come flooding in. I hesitantly accept them and mentally flip through each one, pausing to smell the air and feel the feels... My heart breaks open, piece by piece, and I'm left relishing in a time that I thought would never end... A time when life seemed to pull me in so many different directions, I swore I'd tear apart. A time in which I was needed by everyone, but so exhausted to love it... Those first 5 years grab you like a bear. They hold down your weak body, while you're scrambling to stand. But instead of helping you back up, they keep kicking your legs out from underneath you... Then one day, you open your eyes, and they're gone... And you have this lull in the air. It's a somber moment of revelation, like you're mourning a passing. However, you're still holding tightly onto those past memories -white knuckling them, through your days... Of course you move forward, but you can't help but be stunned by how quickly all this time is passing. The ironic part is, when you look back upon your past memories, you don't remember the sleepless nights, or the colicky hours. You don't remember being so tired that you could cry at the drop of a dime... You only remember the best parts. The little voices who called you mama. Or, clung onto your every word, like you were speaking a sermon. I love having moments of reflection like these. They help me parent forward. They make me appreciate the little things and even the annoying things... They slow me down and force me to appreciate the now... Because the now, will eventually just be another memory in which I relish in.
The parents all file into the breezeway, one at a time, saying goodbye to their children before they fully walk through the door. My daughter hesitantly stands next to me, hanging back until the crowd clears. It seems theater practice makes her more nervous than dance ever does... My thought is, because theater is all new to her -And inconsistency has never been her strong suit... So, I kneel down to her level and reach out my hand to her, I compliment her bravery and reassure her that no matter what, I'll be in my chair that is positioned on the other side of the wall from her - the same chair that claims my spot 3-4 times a week for dance and theater. The parents all leave, and the once chaotic room is now quiet... And, I'm left alone in the waiting room with my son playing in the germ-filled box of toys and my head cocked upwards towards the flat screen TV to watch my daughter. Every once in a while, I'll catch her look up and smile at the camera. And even though she can't see me, she knows I'm smiling back at her. Sometimes, she just needs that extra love. That extra hug. That extra security... And I'm willing to give her all those, anytime she needs. Because very soon in our future, it'll be like a light switch... And one second later, she'll be swooshing me out of the way, as she walks past me into her future. So if sitting in a chair for 2-3 hours, 3 times a week, is all she needs from me to be able to do what she loves, then I'll pull out my notebook and do some blogging. I'll do some social media surfing and get into heated debates about how children should have rights and be shown respect -a concept that sadly, people still debate. Or, I'll even sit on the uncarpeted floor and build magnet cars and play a competitive card game of WAR with my son -because my son enjoys the one-on-one time with me too and he doesn't care where it's at. There really isn't anything I wouldn't do to meet the needs for my children... Because the cliche is true -- They're only this little for a short time... And then one day you wake up, and you're no longer the center of their universe. Inconsistency will no longer be frightening, but instead, exciting. My daughter and I's secret handshake will eventually be an embarrassing thing, instead of the staple for leaving my side. And, eventually, she'll expect me to drop her off at the studio and pick her back up, 3 hours later... And those days will break my heart. And those days, will be way more inconveniencing to me, than these days ever will.
I had to cipher through well over thousands of comments on this Facebook thread to find the little bit of like-minded opinions... And sadly, there wasn't as many as I'd hoped. For those of you who haven't seen it, This was about the Virginia boy who was kicked off the bus for bullying another child, then the father made him jog to school in the rain as punishment -oh, and videotaped it, to be shared all over social media. This thread was filled with, "great job, dad!" "Father of the year." "Best dad ever!" comments... ...And. I. Can't. Even... My issue with this, isn't just the way society reacted to this video (although, that is a big factor), but the way the dad decided to deal with the incident. Instead of talking with his child and trying to have an open dialogue about what has been going on, he immediately went to a harsh punishment. That shows how he parents -He's tough. And tough parents cause children to go to school and be tough on other children. It's the 'food chain' logic. When one person is the weaker link in one situation, they find another situation in which they aren't the weak link. In other words, his dad is displaying power over him, so his son went to school and displayed power over someone else. That is what this father has been teaching his son. To me, this punishment is the epitome of bullying. I don't like the idea of punishment anyways, but when you record it and share it all over the world, that's drops this to a whole different level... And a quick Google search of the word bully will present you with this definition: "...to force him or her to do what one wants." It's about one person demonstrating power or control over another person. Hence, why this child bullies other children in the first place -from the role model. And, for the love of all things holy, please stop publicly shaming your children. But after reading all the comments, and watching all the social media circus, what really broke my heart was hearing the child say, he won't bully again because, he doesn't ever want to suffer that kind of punishment. But, don't we as parents, want to teach our children not to bully because it's harmful to other children? Don't we want to teach them empathy onto others? Those lessons weren't taught here. The only lesson this child learned was, not to get into trouble again because he had to run to school. Ok, that works on face value, but doesn't get to the root of the problem. This child didn't learn not to bully because it's wrong and can have a devastating effect on others, plain and simple. Fear doesn't educate. Sadly, this was a perfect opportunity for this dad to sit down and educate his son on the downside of bullying. Materials like, how children take their own lives, how they injury themselves just to stop the pain, how they become introverts, and also, some suffer a lifetime of depression and other mental health factors because of it. All that was lost here. And society praised him for his actions. They praised him for instilling fear onto his child, instead of teaching him. But no one is asking how or why did this start? That's the problem in this country, everyone wants to solve the symptoms, but not the cause of things. They just want to keep putting bandaids on all the issues. And this punishment may stop him from bullying on the bus, but what happens when he bullies in school? Because, fear doesn't always transfer over to every situation. Not like education will. See, I'm part of the movement where I am creating a connection with my children. I want them to learn about humanity, compassion, respect, and kindness. And they are learning those concepts, by me modeling those actions towards them. They aren't punished or disciplined for mistakes. From day one, they have had a safe environment in which they are allowed to make errors and not be harshly judged. So that by the time they reach school age, they are aware of emotions from others. And aware that people are different. They are taught that no one is beneath them and they are not superior to anything -not even animals, insects, or plants. Kindness starts at home and if your child is secure enough with themselves, they won't succumb to peer pressure and automatically turn to the dark-side when they venture out among school-aged children. However, if you're a parent who steps onto social media and berates other people from behind the computer screen and talks negatively about other people around the house, then your children will pick up on these things and mimic these behaviors. 99% of children just don't wake up one day and become mean. They have learned it from somewhere. And if it's not from the parent, then as a parent, one needs to reevaluate the process. Because harsh punishments and public shaming shouldn't exist in a world where we are more educated now, than we once were.
We live in an area where it can be 75 degrees in February, then only 6 hours later, be 15 degrees. It can snow 8 inches, then be melted 3 hours later due to rising temperatures. Occasionally, it's even 50 degrees in July... And sometimes, the sun doesn't shine for weeks on end. So when we wake up to the sun shining and a cloudless sky, we have to take advantage of these days and be outside for as long as the warm air allows. Because, by the time the children are out of school, the eerie dark clouds roll in and the warm breeze slowly shifts to cold...
And tomorrow, we're supposed to get 8-10 inches of snow...
I have to ask this question to all those who allocate spanking or other obtrusive means... What point will be drawn up after said action? What is the hope? Because in reality, the consequence and action are not cohesive. Meaning, one has nothing to do with the other -example, spanking a child for breaking a window doesn't fit. It isn't a teaching method because a child can't make the connection between the two. It just demonstrates frustration on the parent's part and teaches a child, that when you're mad, you hit someone... I'm not sure if that's the message you really want to send... And if the thought is to offer a means of generalization for a correct response the next time, it can't happen -because again, they don't correlate and a child can't learn from it. Sure they'll be fearful and probably will be too scared to do anything incorrect. And probably too scared to tell you the truth, if they did something incorrect (so they'll begin to lie). But, is that really the message you want? To have your child so fearful of a incorrect action? Or instead, do you want them to not make incorrect actions because, they're wrong in the first place? Those are two completely different points... Severe punishment like that, isn't a real life consequence. It can never be followed over to any other situation. If your husband accidentally, or on purpose, broke the car window, you wouldn't spank him or shame him or verbally berate him. If your wife purposely did something wrong, you wouldn't spank her or ridicule her in front of a bunch of strangers. Or, if a friend went against your wishes and did something you asked them not to do, you wouldn't punish them... You wouldn't do any of these things... Why? Because it's abuse. This belief that children require 100% control ALL THE TIME is disheartening. This belief that children have to be perfect every minute of everyday is completely unacceptable... Especially since all of us adults get angry when we're tired or hungry or stressed. We joke about it all the time on social media and with friends --There's memes dedicated to this topic and even T-shirts that say the words, hangry. So why is all of that acceptable, but a child can't have a bad day without being reprimanded? You know, it is completely real to raise children without punishment and harsh words and threats being spoken AND, still have them turn out to be incredibly respectful humans with manners. It's pretty simple. Just treat them like they're people with rights and respect who they are as individuals. Give them the freedom to make a mistake in a secure, non-fearful, environment. It's amazing what you'll see when you take the time to hear "their side" and don't assume that a mishap was on purpose, or it was a devious behavior, purely to make the parent's life miserable. Children are the only group of individuals where it's socially acceptable to strike. You can't hit another adult without proving it was self defense, you can't strike an animal without it being abuse, and you certainly cannot strike your wife just because she disagreed with you or mouthed-off to you... And sadly, children are the most affected by this action because, they trust their parents immensely. They have unconditional love and ingrained trust in them. Children put their whole souls into this life... ...And with just a quick swat on the butt, or telling them how horrible they are, or how they are "bad kids," slowly tears them down... It tears them down, like a wild horse that is being broken. And the big question is, why do you want to break your kids?