Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Insert Funny Parenting Title Here

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.


Ryan B said...

My family suffers from the yelling across rooms problem. Part of it is that with the house becoming more empty with people slowly heading out, the house is becoming too big for those who live in it. It's like we have to walk a mile to go ask mom what's for dinner. So instead everyone just yells. But nobody can hear the yell so they come a bit closer and yell again. Wash, Rinse, Repeat. We're working on it though

Also, my mom was a stay at home mom for years which was great, but now with kids in college, she is becoming increasingly bored so she is looking for a job. But the economy blows so it's tough.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Awesome, Stacy. I'd let you parent me any time. And now, on to the discipline. That's where I could have done better!

wv: exidst
The next book in the Bible after Gnisist.

vanilla said...

Awetastical post, Stacy. Funny and wise. Many people get "funny" but how did you get to be so wise at such a tender age?

"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?" No. And everyone should ponder this.

The mother of my children was a SAHM. The mother of my stepchildren was a go-to-work mom. It worked both ways. The key is to have Christ at the center of the home.

How appropriate is this? wv: rormom
'My mom doesn't just holler at us, she is a rormom.'

Nick the Geek said...

Maybe I'll have my wife read this. She is the kind of extrovert that needs people but isn't driven to get people in her life. She is kind of dying out here.

Jan said...

As a mom of two teenagers and one coming soon, I have learned that I shouldn't make a big deal about ANYTHING to them relating to puberty stuff. I want to giggle at their deep voices or point out that they need to shave (their once a month shave is getting to be twice a month), but they are so embarrassed by everything at this age. So, I only respond to the things they make a big deal about and keep doors open for questions and comments. It has helped because when they were embarrassed they just clammed up.

Mandy Leech said...

Luckily, we don't have the yelling problem. Our house is so freaking small that you could whisper and everyone would hear. :( We have two little clones, one for me and one for my husband, and that's frightening.

Christina said...

My family yells across rooms too, but in our defense, you haven't seen our house. If we had to walk around the whole thing to get people for dinner, the food would be cold.

Beth said...

Yeah, I've been on both sides of the heated SAHM fence now, and I have to say that both are equally awesome and horrible! But trying to follow God's will in it all leads to more awesomeness and less horribleness. :)

And I once told someone that my children will NOT rule my entire world (meaning God and my hubby came before them) and I got a look that I will never forget...you would have thought I had just murdered a baby kitten or something by the look on this woman's face....

Marni said...

Here's my two cents. Take it for what it's (literally) worth. Dan has a BIG job ahead of him because he has a daughter. She will measure all men that come into her life up against daddy. And when daughter sees daddy making God, then mom and then kids his priority (in that order) she will expect the same thing as she ages and ideally will look for that character in any boy she chooses to look twice at.

We have two daughters (my poor, poor hubs) and he decided years ago the best way he could parent them was to not just teach them, but show them they are "fearfully and wonderfully made" by affirming their character and their beauty in the Lord. And he loves me, oh my word does he love me, and it's so obvious to our girls.

Two weeks ago, hubs was out with our oldest daughter on a practice drive (AHHHHHH!!!!!) and she says "Dad, when I grow up, I want a marriage just like you have". I don't think he's ever had a better compliment.

stacie said...

Oh, I so definitely think you should work for Hallmark! :-)

Here's my favorite part of what you said, though:

"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."

AMEN and AMEN!!!

Shawna said...

This tickled me in ways I can't say. But caused me to pause in ways I can't speak either. I too, stay home with our boys. We homeschool so there is never a dull moment.

The most freeing moment in my life was when a veteran homeschooling mom said, "Shawna, your homeschool won't look like mine, it's not supposed to." Phew...I was really stressed by the "keeping up with everyone else" pressure.

Today, the boys are 18 and 11 and wonderful. They don't march like little soldiers, their rooms are a mess more days than I can count. But they LOVE the Lord.

My sweet husband has taught them that giving of themselves is more than the 10% we talk about in church. The youngest is a little stressed about how he's to give 2.4 hours of his day to the Lord.

Words of Wisdom...If you are walking in the light they will follow. All kids are afraid of the dark. :)

Max02 said...

Wow, Nurse Hildengard was awesome. If it happened like that, she gets mad points for being a bad a**.

Did you ever thank her?

Skerrib said...

I've done the working and the SAHM. I've heard moms on both sides and everywhere in between bag on the others. Worse though is when the people who don't have kids pass judgement...um, like I used to.

MrsGalvan said...

This was HILARIOUS and soo good!
I'm newly married, 4 months today and have no children as of yet but these are definitely great principles to have in our families.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom! :D

heartafire said...

This is great stuff, Stacy. Especially the part about putting your marriage first. It really gives the little nippers the right idea about how the world works. Anything that tells kids: "You are not the center of the universe" is a good message for those kids. Anything that teaches children respect for those older than them is good. Restraint and patience are virtues in short supply among a good many of the children we know.
My husband and I joke about the rampant idolatry of children that goes on where we live. I'm serious. The birthday parties are insane, the vacations and camps are ridiculous, the *stuff* would boggle the mind. It is a hard thing to fight against, but fight we do. It's always good to read about other Christian parents and how they view the trip.

heartafire said...

Marni's comment was right!
I have girls, too, and I know that my husband's example wioll lead them to chose wisely. Right now, they constantly argue about which one of them will actually get to marry Daddy....
They seem to understand that a man can only have one wife, but they forget he already has one.

K Storm said...

Great post.

Christina said...

Speaking as the daughter of a man who, though imperfect, is a godly husband who goes out of his way to love my mother as Christ loved the church (and, as a special bonus, has never ever lorded the fact that "he's the man" over my mother and even enjoys reading Jane Austen), I just wanted to agree with the past few commenters. The role a father plays in his daughter's life will have a hug impact on how she views other guys and goes into relationships. I, for one, wanna marry a man like my Daddy. Only preferably he shouldn't wear a fanny pack in public when he's not even on a missions trip (his worst trait :P).

Marni said...

Oooh, I agree with Heartafire. Our kids do need to know it isn't "all about them".

That is a really scary trend I see in some teens I work with right now and some of my older daughters tertiary friends (read: the ones I no longer let in the house because they're brats). matt@thechurchofnopeople (a fellow SCL lurker like half of us are) just blogged on that very thing yesterday...

Karen (KayKay) said...

This was a great post! I have a 20 year old son and two teenage daughters. My best advice for the teenage years:
1. pick your battles carefully.
2. Once you pick a battle - win it.
3. Listen, listen, listen - then talk.
4. Take some mini-vacations with just one parent and one child. Kids talk when you ride in a car together. You won't believe what you will learn. Just make sure you don't have a wreck!

heartafire said...

Caption for the Picture:


Claire Koenig said...

I think the day I decided I needed to laugh more was when my 4-year-old daughter just would not shut up and was being very sassy. She knew she was "pushing all my buttons" and seemed to enjoy that position of power, which of course made me more mad. But rather than spank (which I'd done, to little effect except to hurt my hand) I decided to tape her mouth shut. Used scotch tape which was nearby. Wrapped that tape around her face and hair about 3 times and she still kept it up. Then I figured out I should lighten up. Which I did. Fortunately the scotch tape didn't leave marks. Duct tape might have. I only tried the tape once because it really didn't work for me. Sigh. She's 24now - and awesome - and has forgiven me for all my flawed parenting. Or at least most of it. (She's working on a counseling degree right now so maybe she's going to hit me between the eyes one of these days. If so, she'll get her own when her daughter grows up...)

Anonymous said...

I love your tip about not yelling through the house. My mother was queen of that and I suspect it may be genetic and I'll start doing it as soon as I get a husband and kids. I really don't want to be that person as:
A. You can come across as mad if someone catches you at it and they think you're just talking to yourself (how do you know the person you think you're talking to is actually where you think they are anyway)
B. They might not hear you and then you'll swear black and blue you told them something which will make you look insane
C. It's just plain annoying for neighbours and everyone else in a 50 mile radius.

Megs said...

Stacy - this post made me really love you. i absolutely long to be a mother and am nowhere near realizing that hope. BUT - i can identify with your "i don't know how to be a mom" . . . because, well, i'm not sure anyone does. And if/when i get there . . . i want to do a good job. Your post was raw and real and honest, and that's what i love about you and your writing - i think it's the kind of support that The Body needs to give each other.