A cup of Kirkland Signature California strawbe...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The above is a direct quote from my Mother’s Day breakfast.  Actually, the yogurt was closer to three weeks past its expiration date, but that’s on me.  I do the grocery shopping, and I can’t resist the bright pink “50% off” stickers that they put on yogurt that’s about to expire.  I always buy it, because I firmly believe “best before” dates are a sham, and I’m a sucker for a deal.  I ate the yogurt and lived to tell the tale.  So there!

It was my first Mother’s Day.  J did a great job.  He made me breakfast, lunch, and dinner (!) and we went for a walk in the park with the boys in the afternoon.  He bought me a giant ice cream.  He even got me a card that didn’t feature a  The Far Side cartoon (I love The Far Side, but sometimes you just want something a little more…sentimental, you know?).

Okay, now that I’ve mentioned The Far Side I just have to show you my favorite.  J got me  a birthday card with this on it once.  Apparently I have done this once or twice myself:

far-side-school-for-gifted

(Image credit: I lifted this from EJ’s Blog, but the original belongs to Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side.)

End of digression.  Anyway, during the time I had on Sunday to read our local paper – a special Mother’s Day treat! –  I came across this Postmedia News article.  For the link-averse, let me summarize.

In case you weren’t aware before reading this piece – your approach to parenting has a label!  You can be a tiger mom, an attachment mom, a helicopter mom, a snowplow mom, a minimalist mom, or a free-range mom – or some combination thereof.  (Presumably all of these labels can be applied to dads, too, though most of the dads I know aren’t actually giving this much thought to their particular parenting philosophy.)

I’m not going to get into what all of these labels actually mean.  Before the boys were born, I approached my impending parenthood like it was the practicum portion of a really long university-level course.  I prepared.  I read books.  I watched documentaries.  I made notes.  All of that went out the window, of course, when the nurses kicked me out of the hospital and sent me home with two 6-pound baby boys. (I really didn’t want to go home.  Clean laundry, fresh diapers, and hot meals magically appeared in hospital.  I was fairly certain they would not do the same at home.)  Anyway, my point is, I couldn’t subscribe to a particular parenting philosophy without going all-in and making sure I was doing it “right.”  And that’s just not practical when you’re faced with the day-to-day realities of parenting.  As the author of this article noted, you take the day as it comes and adjust your approach accordingly.

But this is what stuck with me from this article: “When my mom was raising me and my sister in the 1970s, I don’t think she gave much thought to how she interacted with us. She was a stay-at-home mom, busy doing chores and preparing dinner while we entertained ourselves.”

Aha!  This struck a chord.

I would say that I allow my boys a lot of what you might call “independent” play time.  I supervise, of course, but they’re busy pulling up on furniture, climbing into laundry baskets, pulling apart my photo albums, even occasionally playing with one of the 872 toys in their playroom.  While they’re doing that, I’m washing dishes, folding laundry, writing a grocery list – even blogging.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t just plunk them in front of the TV and ignore them all day (in fact, we don’t even turn on the TV during the day – the boys are too young to really “watch” a show and whenever it’s on, they just zombie-ify in front of my eyes).  And of course I love to get down on the floor and play with them and read them stories and cuddle.  But for good portions of the day, they do their thing and I do mine.

I constantly feel guilty about this.  Somewhere along the way, I have picked up this idea that I am supposed to be constantly engaged in active play with my children.  Teaching them words, demonstrating physical skills, letting them use me as a jungle gym.  It’s been drilled into my head that they won’t develop at the proper pace if I don’t, or they’ll be unable to form secure human attachments – they’ll be irreparably damaged, and might in fact be better off in daycare with a qualified Early Childhood Educator who will ensure they’ll be properly stimulated.

I don’t know how true any of that is, and I’m not sure where it came from.  I’m just doing what comes naturally to me.  Really, taking the time to ponder and select a “parenting philosophy” is probably a relatively recent phenomenon, and another one of those uniquely North American things that moms elsewhere in the world think is utterly ridiculous.  But it’s hard not to compare yourself to the other moms at playgroup, who have installed baby apps on their iPhones or use flashcards with their 10-month-olds.  I think it’s ridiculous, personally, but what if it’s not?  What if my kids will forever be at a disadvantage because the most stimulating thing they’ve done all day is pull coasters off my coffee table?

This is what I spent my Mother’s Day breakfast thinking about – all the ways I could potentially be depriving my children of the structure they need to reach their full potential.  I wish I’d had a mimosa with that yogurt.  It would have taken the edge off.  Anyway, a belated Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, mom or not – and don’t feel bad if you’re reading this while your kids climb the curtains in the next room.  Mine are doing the same.  And I’m pretty sure we’ll all be okay.

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10 thoughts on “Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s some two-week-old yogurt

  1. Wow I can totally relate while I am not a stay at home Mom, I always had this nag that I was not interacting enough with my kids and that they would be at a disadvantage when they got to school. I was wrong, They are fine-I actually think they are better in some ways-ie they know how to entertain themselves and do not NEED someone else there to help them along. As for the tv thing-you are better then me. I let my 16 month old daughter watch tv-sometimes it just needs to be done-and as I was feeling bad about letting the tv babysit my daughter one Saturday, I felt much less bad as she sang along with the WORDS to a Fresh Beats Band song, and then half the alphabet….Love the blog! Keep it up!

  2. Thanks! And…I’m definitely not above using the TV in times of desperation. A while back they pitched their first joint tantrum. No reason at all, they were fed, changed, and well rested – they just decided to freak out together. I turned on a cartoon, and – voila! – silence. Ahhh..

    1. I have my irish twins (16 months apart) but two 1 years olds having a joint tantrum…omg god bless ya! Yes the beautiful sound of silence with just those annoying cartoons and or Nick Jr. shows in the background,,,I want to kiss the creators of the Fresh Beat Band and smack them all at the same time =)

  3. Happy belated Mother’s Day. Loved this post. As someone who is TTC, I naturally (often) wonder what it would be like and how I would handle being a Mom. I know I would constantly question, ‘am I doing it the right way?’, and then wondering, ‘what is the right way?’. That’s something I can only face when I cross that bride. In the meanwhile, I’m enjoying reading about your journey and how you’re dealing with it all (x2)! 🙂

  4. I only have one – two year old so far…so I can’t even imagine twins! As long as they’re alive and happy at the end of each day, I think you’re doing a wonderful job! We put so much pressure on ourselves! Whatever your parenting style may be labeled…I like it, probably because it resembles mine 🙂 Happy belated Mom’s day!

  5. I don’t have kids yet but I think people pay TOO much attention to their kids these days. I don’t particularly want my kid playing with an iphone at the age of 1. I’d rather have them interacting, playing with toys or doing their thing outside. I always say we turned out ok while our parents partied and we fell asleep by the speakers or we stuck ourselves in a humpty dumpty toy box and pushed eachother down the stairs. lol. (saying this out loud sounds bad but again…we turned out ok!).

  6. I stumbled on your blog and can so relate! I am the mom of one nearly 6 year old, and a 3 month old. When my 6 year old was an infant I thought I had to start teaching him his colors right away or I was failing as a mom! I put him in daycare and went back to work with a feeling of relief, that – as you put it “qualified” people would take care of him all day and I could just love on him for the few measly hours I saw him outside of my work day. Now that I am a been there, done that mom, I realize how totally stupid I was. I am not planning on returning to work with this little one, and I don’t plan on raising a young Einstein either. Enjoy your babies – and I eat old yogurt too.

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