Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Two Biggest Lessons of Parenthood

Parenthood changes a person. The focus shifts away from you in the blink of an eye. Your priorities change.... Big. Time. Your fancy salon visits suddenly take a back seat to gymnastics classes and field trips. These changes are a natural part of the process. But some lessons take more time to digest. During my tenure as a mother, I've learned many things, but two things stand out as most useful:

1. If you can't find an answer, it's because there isn't one. From teaching a baby to learn to sleep well to expanding a child's palette to potty training, the best thing you can do is embrace the lack of control. Throw your hands up and envision your child at age 18. You'll feel refreshed and rejuvenated by what your imagination reveals. No more slogging around, coffee cup permanently affixed to your hand in a lame attempt to shake off the ever-present exhaustion thanks to the last six moths of all-night baby juggling. No more begging and pleading to "just try a bite of salmon." No more diaper changes! While you're waiting for your hypothetical grown child to step forth from the shadows, try to mediate regularly on the thought of that self-sufficient future child. And know that, though no solution is evident at present, it's will be ok. Someday.

2. If the thought stresses you out, it's because your child isn't ready. Since becoming a mother, whenever I feel stressed out about a big change in my life - without fail! - it's because my children aren't there yet. The more I let my children take the lead and show me that they're ready, the easier any transition becomes. Starting school. Sleepovers. Potty training. (There it is again!) When it comes to big milestones, let them run the show. Everyone will be a lot happier for it.

The thing about parenthood is that you never stop learning or evolving. As my children get older, I'm sure I'll gain insight and experience into how to handle their more mature stages and issues. But I know I'll always look to these two tenets to help guide my parenting style.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why I Deserve an 'F' in Homework

Parents who do their kids' homework are the lowest form of parent, right? Well, call me a bottom feeder because I just failed my first big test in Homework 101.

As my daughter tackled her first big school project over Spring Break, I struggled with the age-old parenthood dilemma: To Help Or Not To Help, That Is The Question. The assignment in question was to build a model of a building of her choice from around the world. She chose a Pagoda. And, truth be told, I had a hard time keeping my hands off it.

Did she build it herself? Sure. But figuring out the best way to go about it was a different story. We discussed her options, and rather than me allowing her to figure out why any given option was viable or not, I found myself giving her the answers. Me! A mom who usually has such good instincts! And the worst part was, I knew I was doing it, and still I couldn't stop myself. I just wanted her to have an engaging experience with this milestone. I wanted the process to be fun for her, not frustrating, the end result be something she was unquestionably proud of.

So I'm one of those parents. The ones who do their child's homework for them. In the end I undoubtedly robbed her of some aspect of the learning process. So, I am making a mid-year's resolution: Next time, even if I have to gag and bind myself, I will keep my thoughts to myself and let her find her own way.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The SAHM Label

I just read an article about Ann Romney that talked about her being attacked for being a SAHM. Some Democratic pundit on a talking heads cable show declared that she “never worked a day in her life.” As a fellow SAHM, I can attest to the diligence and fortitude it takes to be good at this job. I've never worked harder in my life!

Why does society hate Stay-at-Home Moms? There's an air of disdain whenever someone talks about the label, an assumption that anyone who chooses this path is inherently lazy and entitled. Or at best there's some patronizing comment issued about what a tough job it is.

I spend my days completing mundane tasks so that my family has what they need to have a successful day. Lunches. Laundry. Homework. But I also work hard at giving them the tools they need to evolve into good people. Kisses. Words of advice. Words of praise. Being a SAHM is about more than doing the dishes. It's about constructing a world that allows your children to grow up happy and secure and strong.

I don't know Ann Romney, but I do know what it's like to be a SAHM. And I know that if society gave this job its due, more people might choose this path.