Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Good (Enough) Parenting

Has it really been so long since I've posted anything?!  How did that happen??

For the most part everything has been going swimmingly (there's a word I don't use enough).  My MS has been fairly quiet, although the injections have made my thighs look like I've been nailed by a flying baseball several times.  At least they match.  Work is as busy as ever as we wind down the school year.  Jacob and Emily are doing great and growing up way too fast.  Jason and I joke about starting them both on coffee and cigarettes to stunt their growth.  It's a JOKE!  Good grief...

I recently registered both kids for Parks & Rec classes in preparation for Summer.  I realized that by the time Emily was Jacob's age she had already been in Kindermusik, Gymboree. swimming classes, and weekly play groups.  Jacob is lucky if we go somewhere other than Em's preschool during the week.  Bad Mommy!  I don't need to go crazy like I did the first time around, but a little more to promote language development, social-emotional functioning, motor skills, etc. is probably in order.   I really need to read to him more as well.  Twenty minutes minimum daily for each kid.

Doesn't that make me sound like an awesome parent??  I'm glad I have you all fooled.  We went for a walk with our neighbor the other day and he said to me, "You're a School Psychologist, right? So you actually know what you're doing?"  I started laughing out loud.  The only benefit of my training has been realizing too late that I've messed up.  I end most days thinking about what I really should have done differently.  A recent example:

Jacob rolled onto Emily's puzzle...

Em:  "Jacob needs to get off of my puzzle."
Mommy:  "Let's leave him.  He's been cranky and he's happy now.  I need a break from crying."
Em:  "I need a break from him crawling on my puzzle."

What I SHOULD have said next...
"Hmm..  Can you find something else he might enjoy playing with instead?  That would be a really sweet thing for you to do and then you'd both be happy."
(Insert rainbow and soft, uplifting background music)

How it actually went down...
Em:  "Jacob needs to get off of my puzzle."
Mommy:  "Let's leave him.  He's been cranky and he's happy now.  I need a break from crying."
Em:  "Well, I need a break from him crawling on my puzzle."
Mommy:  "Really?  I need a break from you being sassy."
Em:  "I need a break from YOU!"

This really happened.  My 3 year old was suddenly 13 and what's worse, SO WAS I!  At this point I stood up and walked out with Jacob in tow.  You need a break?!  You got it, Sweetheart.  She was all tears and apologies when she realized I wasn't going to play with her anymore.  We made up over a cookie.  What have I taught my daughter??  It's perfectly acceptable to use your verbal propensity in a disrespectful manner, engage in power struggles, and cope with food.  Awesome.

Emily is not the only victim.  We have 50,000 toys in our house and none of them are ever within arm's reach when I need them.  I tend to grab whatever is close and hand it to Jacob to buy me 3 more minutes of happy baby time when I need to finish something.  Today alone he played with a Sharpie, a shoe, and a syringe.  Just the plastic part -- No needle.  I have to draw the line somewhere.  This is my second child, so I haven't been on top of the research when it comes to Best Toys for Babies in 2012...  However, I'm fairly certain a toxic marker, germ-infested footwear and disposable hypodermic supplies didn't make the list.  There goes my nomination for Mom of the Year.  Again.  It should be noted that the baby in the picture is not my baby.  I'm not alone!

So, Neighbor, that's great that you think Dr. Sears would give me a gold star for my parenting practices, but I think he'd more likely shake his head in disgust.  I don't care.  I don't like the advice he gives parents regarding vaccinations anyway.  The upside is that I've seen some horrid parenting practices and overall, I don't think I'm doing a terrible job.  I mess up.  I think that's something good parents do.  The bad parents are the ones who don't even realize they've messed up and don't consider what they'd do differently next time.  When it comes to sassy toddler talk and needing to distract the baby for a few more minutes, there will absolutely be a "next time."  Today I told both of my kids I love them, buckled their seatbelts, fed them nutritious meals, made them laugh, and read books to them.  I'd say that's a pretty good parenting day.  Let's forget about the whole Sharpie and syringe thing!