The “I hate parenting” and “parenting stinks” attitudes don’t fit me – I cannot imagine the day that they will. Exploring links and other bloggers, I ran across another personality that tells people that you are not going to have great days – maybe just a few good moments here and there. It has bothered me all weekend.
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit that it might be easier for me to be a parenting Pollyanna than others. I only have to be a full-time mother, cook, chauffeur and chore-doer about two months out of the year. The rest of the time, I have help from our nanny and a housekeeper. They allow me to focus on homeschooling our children, keep up with our students, and do some writing instead of doing chores and KP 3 times a day. Make no mistake – I feel pressure and I have stress – I take on too much because I know I have help. So no, I may not have mountains of laundry and piles of dishes that drag me down 365 days a year…I do have 30 hours of activities packed into 24 hour days, which is a different challenge and still requires me to breathe deeply and focus on the children as gifts and not distractions. So that being said…
You know what? I call Scrooge. I am the first to admit it is hard. I will also be the first to say change your state – it’s a matter of perspective. I know that there are mountains of work – learn how to whistle and teach your children how to whistle or hum along with you. There are tons of lemons – add sugar, and invite your children to use their spoons as you use yours.
Attitude is everything when it comes to life – my mission is to teach my children to love it, and it starts with me and my example. If I run around complaining, what will it teach them? To complain? It’s no big surprise that those children are then called whiny whiners by the same parents that can’t stand being parents.
Those of us blessed enough to have families are the envy and the thorn in the side to those folks in the world who struggle with infertility. I cringe every time a blogger takes to the blogosphere to say parenting is a drain, a chore, or anything else they want to call it. Those people who could never have children would give up body parts to have a child to call their own.
Are you going to have bad days? Of course there will be days that you want to start over. Guess what? DO IT! Start over! Gather your children, face your family, tell them you are sorry that they day has been bumpy, and that you are hitting the restart button. Everybody gets to say a happy thought, then tuck everybody back in for a few minutes of reflection, and then when everybody gets out of bed again – choose to have a great day!
If you have time, you can also use water as a tool to change everyone’s state. Water is so good at diffusing tension. Get in the bath tub, get in your pool, get a play pool for $5 over the summer months that you can store and pull out to use as needed throughout the year. You can play fun music, blow bubbles, play mermaids and pirates – just do something that gets everyone out of their funk.
You have things to do? Places to go? People to see? Time is a construct. Our children are vivid, real, living, breathing. I am okay being late or skipping an event if it just causes more stress than joy.
There are days that we all have a doctor’s appointment that cannot be rescheduled, or a school to arrive at on time. In those instances, take the re-set idea and make it fit into your day. Play music and have a mini-dance party before you walk out the door. Play with bubbles. Go draw with chalk on the sidewalk. Have everyone pick their favorite book and have a reading party. Serve breakfast/lunch/snack/dinner picnic style…do something that breaks out of your regular mold and makes your children sit up and notice that you see them and you care about creating moments of joy in their lives.
Is deciding to change your state not enough for you? Maybe you are a single parent, or like a single parent because your partner is not involved with the children due to time or circumstance. I will share something I learned from our students – build a tribe. Find other people who get you – and yes, it means you will have to be vulnerable and show them your scars so that they can show you theirs. These mama-tribes are unbelievable – they have helped each other through challenges, and they will continue to face challenges as their children grow, and they will do it *together*. A good place to start is a meet-up group with children born in a certain month/year, library storytimes, parenting groups, or putting a feeler out on social media to organize playdates – you have to start somewhere. Little by little you will build a tribe that becomes a family built by love and shared experience. You do not have to be alone on this journey.
We are the tapes that will play in their heads when they grow up. We are one of the voices that they will hear when they have to face the hard moments as adults. Instead of leaving them with a tape that they have to erase and try to forget, give them a tape that encourages them and builds them up every time.
Parenting is an awesome gig – learn it, love it, own it. Show up BIG, because parenting matters.