Nearly 8 years ago I found myself in a hospital delivery room. Not desiring to be anyone's hero I partook of the sacred epidural pain block. When it came time a nurse resembling a Nazi got in my face and yelled, "PUSH!" Not to be outdone, I got in her face screamed, "NO!" Everyone in the delivery room looked at me. The doctor asked, "Mrs. Small, why won't you push?" I whispered, "Because I think when these drugs wear off all this is really going to hurt." Hospital staff exchanged glances but no one spoke. What could they say? The monitor beeped again and Nurse Lederhousen yelled, "PUSH! NOW!" Assuming they didn't hear me the first time I repeated, "NO! I can't push!" The doctor, wishing he had joined Up With People instead of going to med school, asked, "Mrs. Small! Why won't you push?!"
"I can't push because I don't know how to be a mom!" I screamed, tears running down my face. My heart was on the line, a baby was in...well, you know..., and I needed reassurance.
Instead, Fraulein Gestapo jumped on the bed, shoved my knee to my chest and said through clenched teeth, "You should have thought about that 9 months ago! PUSH!"
And I did. Twice. And my life changed forever.
Like I said, that was 8 years ago. Ironically, I still don't know how to be a good mom. Most days I fake it and so far, so good. But when ketchup stops being a vegetable I might have a problem.
As with most issues men and women can be deadly in their critique of other's parenting. It's insane. Since I'm sure my parenting skills haven't always been up to snuff, I'll just go ahead and tell you what people say about me:
"Don't let your kids go to The Smalls'. She bathes those children in High Fructose Corn Syrup. They wipe their boogers on hobos and cheat on Chutes and Ladders without repenting. I swear that woman blogs all day and the only people who read it are inmates. Her kids have cavities, they disobey, and the youngest thinks Sponge Bob is a disciple. Bless her heart. I'm only telling you because they need our prayer."
It came as as no surprise that when I asked for ideas relating to this month's topic, several of you asked me to talk about raising kids. I'm no authority on being a parent but here are some things I'm learning along the way.
- Talk in the same room. This one is Dan's idea. He'd feel disrespected when I'd yell, from the kitchen to the office, "Hey! What are you doing?" If I really cared, I would stop what I was doing and have a real conversation. So, we try really hard not to yell at each other or the kids from across the house. It only leads to misunderstandings and frustration anyway.
- Technology is not more important than real, live people. I'm writing this at nearly midnight. Why? Everyone else is asleep and I'm not taking time away from them. There are days when they beg me to get off the computer. That's a horrible example. So, today I spent 95% of my time focused on my kids. No TV, very little computer. Know what? We all enjoyed each other and no one died from being deprived of the Innernets. Who knew?
- Respect matters to everyone. It communicates value and worth. If my daughter messes up and I say, "What's wrong with you?" she is going to feel stupid and embarrassed. I have to focus on training, not demeaning. Even if she did royally screw up my discipline will be worthless words if they are harsh or hasty. I haven't mastered it, but it's getting better.
- Talk to your spouse and don't allow children to interrupt. I want my kids to know I value their dad and what he says to me. Every night after dinner Dan and I talk for 20-30 minutes. We've done this for over two years and it has been fantastic. When the kids interrupt they are told, "Daddy is talking to Mommy. When we are done we'll pop your shoulder back into socket." Ok, I'm kidding. But what they're seeing is healthy marriage. In our house kids don't come first and they know that. Mommy and Daddy set the tone for the house by loving each other. For 20 minutes, everyday, the kids see that acted out.
- Being a stay at home mom is great, but it's not for everyone. I have been a stay at home mom for 8 years. Sometimes, though, it has been drastically isolating for me. I'm sanguine and an extrovert. When I was isolated I was depressed a lot. Would a job have made that better? Probably not, mothers who work have their struggles, too. What I do know is there are some women who think being a stay at home mom is THE. ONLY. WAY. to be a mom. I've seen SAHMs ruthlessly belittle working mothers, calling them greedy, neglectful, vain and selfish. It's disgusting. God made us to be there for each other. Judging another person's calling divides relationships. Do we really need that in the body of Christ?
- Laugh. We do this. All the time. We are happily ridiculous. But we're not attractive so don't hate us. Let go of the little stuff and enjoy your family. Time passes quickly, catch as much of it as you can. (I should work for Hallmark.)
So you can see I have a long way to go. We all do. If you've got parenting mistakes you've learned from, share them here. I know I could use all the help I can get.
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