We had a great play date with one of my favorite mom's. Her daughter and my daughter are best friends and I am so happy-- not because her daughter is terrific (she is) but because I have really come to enjoy our chats at the park and during play dates as much as my daughter enjoys playing with her daughter.
Good Mom Friends are hard to find.
With that said, we had a good discussion on parenting, the expectations today, etc.
It's time for me to fess up. I've had help. Lots of help.
You see, every day I have the benefit of having The Supernanny on one shoulder and Dr. Phil on the other. They are continually offering me commentaries on my parenting skills. Sometimes they are judgmental pains in the butt, but usually they keep me on my toes.
When I'm feeling especially lazy or inconsistent, this British voice in my ear says "Now, Mum, YOU'RE in charge. Act like it." If I try to ignore it, the other ear echoes with a Texan drawl "So how's this working for you?"
And they are usually absolutely right. I should be more consistent. I should have a plan.
Was it this hard for my parents?
My parents had it easier, to some degree. My mother was expected to do everything. The fact that my dad helped a lot was very unique and she considered it icing on the cake.
But now, my husband and I are "partners."
As easy as it sounds, it isn't.
Quite honestly, I think he should just do everything my way. After all, I birthed them. I should know.
But I don't.
The first thing I said to my son when I was alone with him for the first time was "Wow. I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Oh shit, I probably shouldn't be swearing... well, I promise I won't drop you on your head." Then I paused and added, "You know what? I can't even promise you that. I promise I won't drop you on your head on purpose." I swear he rolled his eyes.
My husband was in the same boat. We had no clue. No great light came shining through and showed us the way.
I read "Babywise." Lifesaver. Put your baby on a schedule. Would you like to scream and cry every time you were hungry or peed? This definitely made sense to me.
But when they get bigger, you have more than one, life gets busy, parenting gets more difficult... then what?
Well, television nannies and psychologists, of course!
My favorite thing about the Supernanny is that she says the same thing every week- "Shut up and be a grown up."
Dr. Phil's book had some great ideas- I may joke about it, but honestly, his "Family First" book changed how my husband and I parented. Big time.
You see, apparently, as a married couple, you should probably discuss how you are going to parent.
So my husband and I actually talked about it one night. No kidding.
He thought I was too soft on the kids. I told him I didn't think a kid should ever go to bed crying unless he had done something egregious- lallygagging before bed was not a good enough reason. He hated being bad cop to my good cop. I offered to switch it up.
The next night, before bed, I was the clock watcher. He did the tuck-in's with the kisses. It was great.
I had no idea. He was happy. I was happy.
This talking about parenting thing seemed to work.
We also tried date night with the "opposite" kids. He and my daughter would argue all the time. It was frustrating. Plus, I missed hanging out with my son. Once we set aside special time with the kid of the opposite sex, we got rid of the girls vs. boys lines that had been drawn, unintentionally, in our home.
Our latest parenting issue is over scheduling the kids. We actually agree on this, however, it's very hard for me to say no to activities when the kids enjoy them. Also, my kids are not quitters. This is a good thing, we know, but it sure would make my life easier...
I know, Supernanny, "Shut up and be the parent." See, annoying isn't she?
So how much is too much? Chess, swimming, dance classes, guitar, theater class...
What? "How's that working for me?" Well, okay for now, but one more thing and my head might explode.
See how it works?
The voices happen all the time. When we're getting ready in the morning and it's not going quite fast enough so I yell...
"Now, Mum, whose fault is it really that you're running late... don't you control the wake up routine?''' Well, sure but...
"You should get up a little earlier... How'd that extra 10 minutes of sleep work for you?' Well, it did seem to make everything harder, but I was so tired...
Or if I bribe them with the promise of ice cream...
"Mum, isn't it YOU who wants the ice cream? Shouldn't the kids listen because you said so?" Well, I do like ice cream...
"Hmmm... not losing any weight... how's that ice cream working for you?" Screw you, Dr. Phil and give me the Cherry Garcia.
In reality, the voices are really just my own questioning everything I do as a parent. Am I understanding enough? Am I too passive? Do I listen? Do I give them enough responsibility?
Am I doing this right?
I know that I love my kids and I won't drop them on their heads intentionally. That may change in their teen years, but for now, that's my actual threshold for measuring my parenting skills.
I really do think that the Supernanny has some great techniques and the Dr. Phil book did help my husband and I learn how to parent together. Seriously.
But on a day to day basis, I gave up trying to be perfect. I screw up. I even tell my kids when I do.
Who knows what my kids will remember when they are older- maybe the time I lost it because I honestly was not going to search the house looking for the stinking teddy bear one more night. Or maybe they'll remember the 2 hours I did look, every night for the 2 weeks prior.
It all seems like a crap shoot.
For now, it's the best I got.