Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Perfect Mother is You

The other day, we had a really fussy day. It all started because I gave J the wrong spoon. She threw a fit about that for a good hour. An hour. Over a spoon? There had to be something more that was making her upset, I just couldn't figure out what it was.  The day continued like that; the girls show was over, being told that we couldn't go to the dinosaur museum that day, the cereal got soggy (from the fit earlier, and yes I made her eat it anyway), the girls fighting, being told they had to clean up their toy before getting another one out, being told to apologize for being naughty....These are all things that set the girls off all day long.

By the time Trevon got home, I was done. I made dinner, and after almost two hours of putting the girls in and out of time out, I left. I got in the car, and I drove by myself for a while. Something I haven't done for years...since I've been married, in fact. And I cried. I felt awful. I know that some days are hard, bad days. And they are just days, they pass, we move on and things get better. But this day made me feel like the worst possible mom. Yelling at the girls, putting them in time out, giving a spanking or two, J didn't get dinner, she went to bed hungry (and she survived), and leaving them. Just leaving with out saying anything. I remember my mom used to do this when I had a really bad day with her, and I remember always being really upset about it. Worse than I already was. But I needed to be alone. ALONE. And I needed time to cry with out anyone asking me why or trying to make me feel better.

And as I drove, I thought of this post that I've been working on. I thought of how to make myself a better mom. And I wondered, what makes a good mother anyway?  Is it that she breastfeeds and co sleeps her baby until the are two years old? She makes all the meals by scratch and home schools her kids?  Has a set cleaning and cooking schedule and still fits in time to do crafts with her kids? She sits for hours and plays dolls with them (something I've always had a hard time with)? In order to be a good mother do you have to have a degree or be a stay at home mom?

I'm not a bad mom, although I know there are a lot of things I need to work on, like patients and not feeling so bothered when I'm asked for the thousandth time to help pick up the mess they made, or not feeling frustrated when I have to ask them a million times to clean up their mess in the first place. I'm a good mom that has bad days. And I think every mom has bad days, we just don't read about those on blogs or see pictures of that on Instagram.

When it was just J, after having a day like this, I would have gone to pinterest and google to find ideas for ways to be a better mom. Ideas to help for these kinds of days. But after almost 5 years of being a mom, I've realized that while pinterest and google can give you a few good ideas and a place to start, they aren't always right for everyone. While I love blogging and think blogs are great, most blogs (even this one) are just people's experiences and opinions.  It's comforting to know other people go through certain things, but sometimes I just left feeling more frustrated and like a worse mom in the first place. With M, the more and more that I started to look around for "help" on the internet, I noticed that I wasn't seeing much new, and not all that I was seeing were things that I felt right about anyway.

Then something clicked in my head.

Every kid is different, every family is different. They all have similarities but they are all different. They react differently to certain things. And because of this, all of that advice wasn't going to work for everyone.

For me, bribing works great for things like cleaning up a mess the first time I ask. I bribed J with potty training until she had it down to no accidents at all.  If you look around on pinterest about parenting for a little while, it wouldn't take you long to find some pins about how bribing is bad, so is yelling, so is spanking, so is letting your kid watch TV, so is telling your kid they did a good job.  (In my opinion, telling your kid "good job" is nothing but good and positive).

But instead of trying to tell everyone why my way of parenting is the best way of parenting (because it's not, it's just what works for us), I'm just going to talk about how I'm working on being the best mom I can be for my kids and the best wife I can be to my husband.

- I will put my kids first when they need to be put first. I'm not going to completely ignore Trevon, I'm not going to make him wait to talk to me until kids are asleep. I'm not going to put off date nights or alone time with him until the kids will no longer need baby sitters. But when my kids need me, they will get me. Balance in the family is key. Not putting someone else before others.

- I will discipline my kids for the things they do that are wrong. The way that I discipline is my business. My kids are healthy and happy and thriving and no one should be worried about how they are being treated. But when they do something wrong, they will know that it was wrong and they will have to learn how to make things right.

- I am working on spending more one on one time with each of my kids. This gets a little harder as we grow our family,  But my kids do so much better, they are so much happier and we get along so much more when we can have a little one on one time together. It doesn't need to be big or expensive, as long as they are feeling loved and important, that's what matters.

-  I find time for myself when I can.  A run, a little treat while I hide in the closet, a nap, whatever it might be. When I have time to recharge myself and to have a minute or two with out someone touching or climbing on or nagging me, I'm a happier, nicer mama. And that's really what they need.

- I try to keep my home a happy place. There is enough negativity in the world, our home should be a place to feel safe, and comfortable. Accepted and loved and happy.  It should be a place that my family is comfortable being. A place that they don't have to worry about what they say or do being "wrong".  I want our home to be a refuge, a safe haven, a HOME.

- I will show, by example, the values I hope they can learn and grow to have.  I want them to be kind to others, but to stand up for their beliefs. I want them to work hard but know when to relax and have fun. I want them to serve others.

- I hope to always be someone that my kids can come to when they need to talk or have a question. I want them to feel that they can talk to me and to their dad, and to each other about anything.  I want to show them that it's ok to feel have their feelings and show them how to work with those feelings.

- I ask for help when I need help. Parenting is tough. Somedays are harder than others. Even if you don't have a tiny baby or you are just having a hard day for yourself, it's ok to ask for help. We play with my sister's kids on a weekly basis, if for no other reason, so that, as mom's, we can talk and get advice or vent to each other about things that probably seem a lot bigger deal than they actually are.  It's ok to take a night off once in a while. It's ok to call a neighbor and see if the kids can come play for an hour while you have a nap or go on a run or clean your house, or do what ever else you need to do to decompress.

- I am trying to remember to enjoy the little moments. Not wish time away. Some days seem mundane and boring, but the things that happen on the normal days are the things that sometimes make the best memories. J is already almost 5! And before I know it she'll be to a point in life that she won't ask me to help her get another drink or kill an ant for her. So for now I'm working on being the kind of mom that enjoys doing those things for them.

I'm not perfect. I'm far from perfect. And that's okay. I believe Heavenly Father allows us to have days like the one I just had to give us a chance to see what needs adjusting and to give us the chance to council with Him, and our families, about ways to change the things that we need to change. I felt that he was helping me see that what really matters is that I'm taking the effort everyday to be a better mom than I was yesterday.

So know that it's okay to look on pinterest and google for help, but, if you really want to know how to be a better parent, listen to your own instincts. You know your child best. You know the things that make them sad or scared, you know how they react to certain things, you know how to help them feel better. You know if bribes work for your kids or if you have to sit and explain out everything to them so that they can reason. And you shouldn't feel any guilt with how you're doing things. If you do, then you know it's time to try something new. Listening to your instinct, being there for your child, doing what works for you and for your family, those are the things that will make your family function the best. Everyone is different, so just remember to take every piece of advice (good and bad) with a grain of salt, and find the things that work for you.

What are some of the things you're working on to be a better Mom (or dad)?

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