Time and time again I am learning the same lesson. Everyday. Sometimes every hour. When raising children, the usual formulas of 1+1=2 and red+blue=purple do not apply. Just because you’ve fed them, had them take naps, brought an extra change of clothes, and allowed them to run out their energy does NOT mean your evening will be stress/chaos/meltdown/timeout free. On top of that, just because a certain formula worked for one of your children does NOT mean it will work for all of them.
Before becoming a parent we have ideas about how we will do things differently than so and so, and how our children will never do things like their kids. Then we actually have kids and realize we were idiots. That’s right, as we sit back and watch our kids have a meltdown in the middle of a restaurant or scream for an hour straight on a plane we realize how freakin’ hard it is to be a parent. And how much harder it is to be a good parent.
Kids, just like snowflakes, are each originals. No two are alike. There may be similarities, but each are truly unique. I try to remind myself of this while traveling. 2 of my 3 children go with the flow, adapt to the changes and roll with it all. And one simply does not. And it is my job to love her just as much, despite the whining/tantruming/crying fits, etc. My kids are not some matching set that allows me to parent on auto pilot. They each require my time, patience, and love. When I try to squeeze them all into the same mold, I fail and we are all left frustrated. It’s maddening, stretches me to the limit, brings me to my knees and forces me to see each child as a beautiful creation that cannot be copied, forged or recreated.
Not only are our children not the same as each other, they are not mini versions of us either! They may look like us or share some traits, but it ends there. We cannot try to force them to be a new and improved version of ourselves.
Our children are also not our neighbor’s kids. Who cares if their baby crawled at seven months, knew his ABC’s from infancy, and eats all vegetables without complaint. Would you rather have that kid? Seriously. Comparing our kids begins before they even leave the womb. We talk about how long it took us to get pregnant, how much weight we gained, how many times we vomited, when we had to start wearing maternity pants, how organic our baby’s nursery bedding is, how “natural” (there are few things I hate more than using this term to refer to birthing vaginally without meds. I don’t fear the words vaginal, epidural or c-section)our baby’s birth was and on and on and on. No wonder the comparisons trickle down and get plopped on our kids. There are always going to be the bragging moms and honestly I am still learning how to tune them out. It’s hard.
At the end of the day I simply love my babies. It is their little quirks, unique personalities, and individuality that makes them amazing. Why in the world would I spend my time obsessing about what they’re not!? What they are is mine. They carry our family’s name, they belong to The Doc and I and they are freakin’ awesome. At the end of the day, I know you feel the same way about your little ones. Let’s promise to see our kids for who they are, not who they are in relationship to our neighbors and the other kids at school. Love them where they are, for who they are and simply because they call us “mommy.” There are few on this planet who can bestow upon us such a sacred and loaded title. Let us not forget the privilege and responsibility we have to those who entrust us with the name.