Parenting is tough stuff. I remember when I was pregnant I immersed myself in all things baby. The best baby products. The best breastfeeding items. The best baby engagement products so my baby would be stimulated in all ways to encourage amazing brain development (insert my eye roll here). You get the point. When my babies came (in separate years thank God! Shout out to parents of multiples) it was enough to survive some days and much of the crap I read or invested in went right out the window.
The toddler years were a bit blurry too. Perhaps it was because I had three kids under three. Two did not sleep through the night until they were at least eighteen months old. Those sleep deprivation days were pretty awful. I read anything I could on getting toddlers to sleep through the night. Does one even retain information when one hasn’t slept a solid four hours in three years? I’m guessing no because I don’t remember much of the information. I look a little worse for the wear too in case you are wondering.
I didn’t think much past the toddler years. I’m impressed that I remembered to shower some days. Little did I know there would be much bigger fish to fry during the big kid years (I don’t even want to think about the preteen and teen years!). I have begun to think about the little humans I am shaping into grown-ups. It’s a bit of a task. A daunting task really. There are so many schools of thought when it comes to parenting. From Helicopter Parents to Free-Range Parents, you can’t win for losing really.
Regardless, I plod on and do the best that I can. I try to be mindful of my choices. I try not to let my hang-ups from my own life affect the experiences my kids will encounter and ultimately, make a decision about. Tough stuff right there I’m telling you. Two areas that I pay particular attention are religion and politics. I wanted to give my children a strong spiritual foundation without steering them into one faith. I feel they need to decide for themselves what path is meaningful to them when they are in their adult brains and can fully understand the beliefs and teachings of a particular denomination. It was difficult to find a spiritual community that was embracing of all beliefs but thankfully, I was able to find one. Is this the right choice for everyone? No, but I felt it was the right choice for my children. I didn’t feel it was right for me to pick their religion for them.
The other thing I have been mindful about is not talking about my political preferences. I don’t want my kids leaning towards one party or the other simply because their mom or dad does. Instead, I talk to them about what I feel is important in our society whether it be at the local, state, national or world level. I talk to them about what is important to me while telling them they may feel differently about that. And it’s okay. It’s okay to hold different opinions than mom and dad. I don’t talk to them about which candidates I prefer during this election. Instead, I talk about what characteristics and traits I look for in leaders. Furthermore, I hope I am roll modeling those behaviors to them.
I am doing all of this because I don’t want to create a mini-me. I don’t want my kids to be shaped in my own mold or image. They are amazing little beings with the ability to learn and think for themselves. They deserve the opportunity to develop their own opinions and evaluate what is right for them without feeling as if they have to agree with me because I am their all-knowing-mother. Some conversations will be harder than others. I hope, at the end of the day, they know they are unconditionally loved regardless of their own beliefs. I hope, some day, they can look back and appreciate they were allowed to develop their own opinions, and through that, have the confidence the choices they made were right for them.
Need an amazing book in your life? A book about friendship? A book that will make you laugh so hard you cry? Excellent! We have two! Not pregnant? Who cares! You’ll still love it!