I probably don’t need to tell you that being a parent can be overwhelming. From the moment you contemplate conceiving to the time you send your child off to college and beyond, you’re constantly asking yourself: am I doing the right thing?
There are so many choices (and potential mistakes) to make: bottle or breastfeed, co-sleep or crib, private school or public, stay-at-home or working mom, attachment parent or free-range? But those aren’t even the most important issues.
Sometimes, as Lisa Belkin at The New York Times’ Motherlode points out, “a kernel of wisdom, at just the right moment, can make all the difference.”
For instance, just the other night while serving my girls dinner, it struck me that I was so concerned with sticking to our nightly routine that I forgot to enjoy myself and have fun. So what did I do to liven things up? I threw spaghetti at my girls and started a food fight.
When things got out of hand, I reminded them that if we want to occasionally break the rules, I’ve go to know that they can listen when I tell them it’s time to stop. It was a reminder to me that it’s okay to let loose sometimes and just do something unexpected or silly.
I find that we’re all so focused on getting the basics of parenting (packing lunch, getting ready for school, brushing teeth, arranging playdates) done that we forget to be in the moment.
Alphamom.com blogger Chris Jordan recently compiled a list of “16 Things I Have Learned About Being a Mother.” She was inspired to write the list after realizing that the biggest issues in parenting aren’t about the hot-button issues like circumcision or cry-it-out.
“No, the things that matter most are the little things, the small lessons we pick up along the way,” she writes.
So what are Jordan’s lessons? Here are a few that especially resonated with me:
4: When your kids are behaving in a way that makes you least want to give them affection and attention, that is precisely when they need it the most.
9: Don’t worry what other people think of you. Don’t compare your inside to everyone else’s outside. Live your life in a way that makes you happy. You know the old saying: If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. It’s true.
16: Never underestimate the healing power of a good cocktail at the end of the day.
A few other things on my personal list of things to keep in mind while parenting:
1. It’s just a phase. Just when you can’t stand it anymore/or get used to it, it will likely pass.
2. Try not to worry too much. Worrying never helped prevent something bad from happening.
3. Don’t forget to relax and have fun every once in a while. It’s not always about checking things off the list and taking care of the business of parenting.
What are the little (and big) things that you have learned about parenthood?
photo: flickr/Tammra McCauley