Being a mom and parent is obviously the thing on my mind a majority of my day. I have been thinking a lot about the influence we have on our children and how “being an adult, being a parent” all those things as a kid I couldn’t wait to achieve, because then I could “do whatever I wanted,” isn’t really true. I can’t do whatever I want, I can do whatever I want my little kids to do. I can’t say stupid, I can’t give up and give in easy, I can’t judge other people, I can’t lose my patience easy. I’m adult and I can do what I want, but if I want my children to be good kids and someday good adults I can’t do whatever I want. Of course I make mistakes (often) and I can use those as great teaching opportunities for my children. I use my mistakes to show them that no one is perfect and that we all have our moments of weakness and that its okay, as long as we learn from them and strive to grow and become a little better each time. If you ask my oldest what I say the most he will probably tell you its “I love you” and “Learn from it.” I want them to know that its okay to make mistakes and learn and grow from them because they see me do those things.
I have 8 little kid eyes on my 24/7, and more when I’m not at home, or we have friends over, those 8 little eyes learn from me. When I give up or give in too easy then I’m teaching them to do the same thing. I am a go getter until the going gets tough. When the computer is broke and I can’t fix it all I want to do is scream and throw it and occasionally I do yell at it, and then of course a few days (or hours) later I hear one of my kids yelling at a toy that won’t do what they want it too, yeah, they learned that from me. I can’t talk about how I feel fat or I don’t like how I look, or I wish we had more money so I could buy the nicer more expensive shoes I really really want, because then I am teaching them that looks mean a lot more than they really think and that I don’t have any self-esteem or that money means everything. I have to be careful of my words and actions because I am teaching my children those same things. I want them to have a great self-esteem and self-worth, I want them to be happy no matter how much money they have, those are things worth teaching.
When I say things like “I think that law is so stupid.” I’m using the word (that I don’t let my kids say) in a correct way, I’m not calling anyone stupid or using it to hurt anyones feeling, but they don’t understand that. I really have to watch everything I say and do because I am teaching my kids all day, in all that I do. Of course none of us are perfect and I have my moments of weakness where I don’t realize till it’s too late that I just taught my kid something “bad”. But I really make it a point to actively try to be the mom that I want my daughter to someday be and the kind of wife I want my boys to someday find. I can also use those moments of “weakness” or times I slip up and say something I don’t let me kids say, as a teaching opportunity. Because that’s basically what parenting is, one big teaching and growing opportunity.
I didn’t have the best example of a mother growing up. In fact I learn a ton of “not to do’s” from her, so I have to admit a lot of times it’s really hard for me to not just say, “Oh I don’t know how to do that, so I’m just not going to do it.” I really need to be the one to do the learning, and then teach my kids the right way so that one day they are not in my shoes, wishing they knew how to do something but didn’t because they were never taught it. I need to break the bad parent cycle and learn things myself so that I can teach my kids. Sometimes its simple things I never learned as a kid, like how to do my hair, how to put on make up, how to sew, how to decorate, how to cook, how to clean, how to fix cars and change oil. Things that are really basic life stuff that I was never taught and have to teach myself. I love my kids enough to not let them be in my shoes one day trying to learn simple things. Of course I can’t learn everything or teach them everything, but if they see me constantly learning then they will, hopefully, develop a love for that as well. I also think about how the prophets have told us to continually be learning, and while right now I’m not in school I am making sure that I am constantly working my mind and learning new things.
So my example goes far. If I want my kids to love to read, they must see me reading. If I want them to love to cook then they should see me cooking (non begrudgingly) and I should be teaching them and letting them help me. Kids have such a thirst for knowledge and sometimes I’m in such a hurry to get something done that I don’t let them help me, but the most important thing I should be doing is teaching them, so I stop and slow down and realize that the cookies don’t need to be perfect circles, because the adorable little hands are helping me. We will have many shapes and many sizes of cookies, and that’s okay because important life skills and lessons are being taught.
Hover parenting!! Guilty as charged! But totally not on purpose. I was reading an ensign article about this a few weeks ago and feeling like I was totally that hover mom on some things and not on others. It’s hard to not be that parent, it makes my life easier to not clean up messes, to pick out their clothes for them, to fix their lunches, ect. It makes my heart less scared to walk Landon into school and to have him in my line of sight at all times. But I’m not teaching them anything by doing this. I am just making them into adults that don’t know how to do any of these things. One of my favorite things about my husband is that he is my complete equal partner. He does dishes, vacuums, cleans up poop and throw up, gives baths, cooks dinner, sweeps floor, makes lunches, runs errands and is as involved as he can be. I want my kids to be that way, and while Noah’s example of what a wonderful dad and husband is, I don’t want my boys future wifes to have to train them to be that way. I want them to not only see it, but learn to be it.
After reading this article I started dropping Landon off in front of the school and watch him walk to the play ground, then I pull around and watch till his class goes in. My heart breaks because some days he stands there and watches me, other days he find friends, but on those days he just stands there I want to run up and hug him and nurture him and make him happy. But then how does he learn to be alone? How does he learn to go make friends? How does he learn to be happy no matter the situation? Sometimes the best teaching I can do, is by stepping back, letting him learn and hoping that I did the best I could to prepare them for this type of situation. I have also started letting Landon fix his own lunch and now he wants to fix his brothers. Its been very nice and after the first week of messes and clean ups we have not had any more problems with it. I also don’t fight anymore battles about the clothes (unless we are going somewhere nice or to church), they pick their clothes and most of the time do pretty good. I have also learned from this how much Braddoc doesn’t care about style and how Landon does. One day Braddoc wore pj shorts, a button up shirt that was really too big for him, winter boots and a hat to the store with Noah. I just laughed because that was Braddoc and every time I saw him it reminded me of how different they each are.
Of course the biggest change I have had to make during this is not going back and fixing the things they did. If I let them pick out their clothes, I have to let them wear what they pick. I of course can guide, but in the end its their decision. If Landon makes a sandwich that I know he wont like because he put very little peanut butter on it, I don’t say anything I just sit back and let him learn it on his own, because really that’s the best way for him to learn, through trial and error.
It reminds me of Finding Nemo when Crush, talking to Marlin about Squirt, because Marlin freaks out when squirt gets swept into the current, says, “Whoa! Kill the motor dude. Let us see what Squirt does flying solo.”
Or this one:
Marlin: How do you know if they’re ready?
Crush: Well, you never really know, but when they know, you know, y’know?
We never know when they are ready. But will we ever know if we never give them the chance to show us? Its terrifying letting my young squirts fly solo. Not because I always have to be in control (well not always,) but because I don’t want them to get hurt or feel pain. But then I realize that’s how heavenly father must feel with us. He doesn’t want us to get hurt and feel pain but he does want us to learn and return to him, and how do we learn the best? When faced with Trials and Problems and Pain and Suffering, because that’s when we are truly tested and see how we do “flying solo”. I need to follow my Father in Heavens example and let my kids fly solo more often, man does it hurt my heart, but it also helps them grow and after all that’s what I really want for them. So while I can’t say I have completely give up hovering (they can’t go to the park by themselves or play in the street,) I have moved my hovercraft a significant distance away, and park it in the garage on many occasions.
These boys are best buds and I adore them. I have also learned that they adore feeding off my emotions. you know the old adage, “If momma aint happy aint nobody happy.” Well its kind of true, If I’m quick to anger they are quick to anger. But by the same token if I am patient and kind and long-suffering so are they. I have realized that most of the fit throwing or fighting from them is sometimes a result of my mood. It’s also there if the day has been long and they are tired and have had no real break, cause well lets face it I’m cranky too when Im tired, so I can’t really blame them.
Most days I need to just sit back, smile, laugh, teach, learn and mostly enjoy the ride, because like most thrilling rides, it ends to quickly.