In one month you are going to be 3. Wow. That’s about all I can say. This time has flown by, I swear you were born yesterday. Maybe in the next 3 years I will figure out how to teach you to go bathroom on a toilet, because I haven’t yet found the magic answer. I’m sure that you’ll be so happy to someday read that I told the entire internet about my inability to get you to do your business on a toilet.
In the past month the fear has squeezed my heart which I wrote about here. Reading that I realized I don’t think I was saying what I wanted to at all. Being your mom is the biggest and scariest thing in my life because if I mess it up, that will be the worst thing that ever happens to me. Although I really can’t imagine you being anything less than perfect.
If you grow up and choose to hurt instead of heal and judge instead of empathize or even worry instead of living in the moment then I will know I have failed in my most important job. That’s a very scary thought, the most terrifying thought that enters my mind.
When is the right time I drop the hammer and give you tough love and when do I wrap in a big bear hug and tell you accidents happen and everyone makes mistakes and refuse to let you go until your tears dry? How do I teach you that I will always be proud and love you but that isn’t as important as if YOU are proud of your accomplishments and YOU love yourself? When do I yell instead of shaking my head sadly and telling you softly that I am very disappointed in your choices?
I don’t have those answers. And I live with fear in my heart that I will make a mistake that will push you to run from the pain by hurting yourself instead of walking through and learning from the feelings. I know it’s your life to live and your mistakes to make (which you will, as everyone does) I just hope I do my part to give you the tools to make the right choices when it counts the most.
I have to put my faith in what I know to be true at this moment. As I know better, I will continue to be a better mother to you. That is my promise to you today and as long as there is breath in my body. In the end, I hope that’s enough.
I give you my unconditional love. I want you to find and define happiness for yourself, whatever that means to you. I don’t want you to live my dreams, I want you to dream and imagine your own and create your heart’s wishes.
If I don’t know the right answer in a moment I ask myself these questions-
1. What are you learning?
2. How is it working?
I know it may seem very simple, but this is constantly in my head and if daddy and I disagree about something as parents (which we never do, daddy should know by now I’m always right) we speak in those terms. Even if it is all we know, if it is not creating love and happiness, then we reassess and change it until it’s better. We all know too well what it feels like to wake up and dread the day and be miserable in each moment only to feel as if we don’t have the means to change it. We all possess the means and abilities to make the life we desire within ourselves. There are no magic answers or easy paths, only well deserved accomplishments born from hard work.
My other philosophies in parenting are love and logic and choices. These really go hand in hand. Love and logic is when there are natural consequences. Punishment that fits the crime. This means if you throw your dinner on the floor you have made the decision to lose it. If you don’t pick up your toys and mama and daddy have to do it, they will be taken away. This goes as long as the consequences of your actions don’t cause you real pain. I’m not going to allow you to walk in the middle of the street so you learn that it really hurts to get hit by a car. This goes for physical and emotional pain.
Choices are the best thing in my life as a mom. Getting into power struggles will always turn to misery for both you and I. I either give you 2 choices, both of which are acceptable to me and you feel that you have power because you get to choose. This can be something as simple as you choosing if you would like to have a bath now or before bed time. This allows you to do 2 important things. First, you take ownership of the decision (you always choose later, you are your father’s son after all) while at the same time I may be making you aware of something you aren’t going to be thrilled about.
You hate getting your fingernails and toenails clipped. This has been a battle since you were born. You act as if I am cutting off your fingers. I ask if you would like to get your fingernails cut before or after your bath. That instead of the alternative of “you need to get your fingernails cut today” which could result in a fit or even “want to get your fingernails clipped?” To which the answer is always no and is followed by a fight.
This also allows statements such as “if you throw the ball inside, you will lose it.” When you throw it and I take it away and you throw a fit we say “we are really sorry you made that choice.” In my experience, it’s always better to put the responsibility on you and then we can also sympathize with you. Also, kids really thrive when they know the rules and can predict, with accuracy, what the consequences of their actions will be.
I have also started using a technique I read about from Mwa (saying yes when you really mean no). You can read her much funnier explanation here. This was a great idea, almost too good to work, so I thought. I knew there was no way this was going to work and this morning you crawl into bed to cuddle at IT’S TOO DAMN EARLY o’clock (the normal time you awake) and ask if I will play Memory, Domino’s, and Candy Land with you. I’m asleep half asleep so I think of this great idea and see if you’ll go for it.
“Yes, we’ll play them when you get home.”
Your face lit up at the word yes, and then it transformed to confusion as you were figuring out how you had been duped and I realized the full power of this trick method. I feel like it’s the 3 wishes you get with a genie, you can’t wish for more wishes. If I use it too much, it will lose it’s amazing power.
Whenever you are reading this, I hope you understand that your mom is PERFECT. I have ALL THE ANSWERS. Please, let me catch my breath. OK, thanks, I was laughing very hard. In 2 months I will probably realize I’m doing it all wrong and be raising you with different philosophies. Which means by the time you’re 18 I will have changed plans on your so many times you’ll be spinning and/or schizophrenic. Either way, I feel my job will have been very well done.
What has been so much fun this month is to see how your brain works and how you learn. You have shown me this recently by your love of puzzles (you’ll dump them out and as soon as you finish it, dump it to start it over 10 1,000 more times) and games. I have spent many hours playing games with kids (I used to get paid for it as a teacher) and I was afraid (especially since you are an only child) that you would have a hard time taking turns, playing by the rules, and losing. I’ve played with kids who hate losing so much they change the rules while playing so they can always win.
I always told my class that there were sore losers and sore winners and no one wanted to play with those kids. You take turns, play by the rules (and understand how to play in a very short amount of time), and celebrate when others win. It is again a daily reminder that you are a much better person than your mom.
And that makes me more proud than I can say.