Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. I’d take a bullet for them, or donate a kidney, or trash my waistline, sagify my bustline, ruin my sleep schedule, and jeopardize my sanity for them–oh wait, I did most of those things already. But if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t really ENJOY them all that much until the last few years.
See, I’m not really a kid person. Or even a baby person. It’s just that kids are just kind of small and meh. I’m not that fond of other people’s kids or even my own relatives’ kids. Don’t be mad. I don’t hate your kids when they come over, and I’m not lying when I say your baby is cute, I just didn’t really enjoy spending time with my kids.
My husband likes little kids, which is a good thing because he is an elementary teacher. I just figured that he’d be the good cop to my bad cop for this decade. I’d tolerate them till they became teens and then it would be my turn to enjoy parenting.
This sounds horrible, I know. There are dozens of decent mothers reading this that are truly shocked that I’ve just admitted to not enjoying motherhood and just doing what was expected while my kids were around. But, I don’t think I was really conscious of it. Part of it was that so many OTHER MOMS weren’t really enjoying their kids either. We were all being miserable together, waiting for naptime. We love our kids, but we didn’t ENJOY them.
But a few years ago, I realized that I was missing it. Honestly, I was losing the opportunity to enjoy their childhood by hiding out on my blog. I was so busy pining for a different stage in their lives, wishing they were bigger, assuming that my day would come, that I was MISSING IT.
So I decided to make a concerted effort to enjoy them, to like them, to engage with them. Rather than figuring out how to AVOID them or OCCUPY them so I could do my own thing, I decided to interact with them . . . on purpose. Consciously or unconsciously, I started making a few changes that have helped me not just LOVE, but LIKE my kids, you know, as humans.
1. I stopped trying to be consistent. (Sometimes. Not all the time. Whatever. ;))
Every parenting and discipline book sings the praises of consistency, and I get the point, but frankly, nothing I’ve ever implemented with my kids has lasted more than a month. See, KIDS CHANGE CONSTANTLY. Why are we so hell bent on being so structured? Maybe it helps some moms to feel a sense of control and organization, but I feel crippled by insecurity every time I fail to complete the chore chart, or allowance system, or daily routine. They just make me feel overwhelmed.
Now, when I implement systems, I take a Mary Poppins approach. We’ll stick with it until the wind changes, or our mood does, or the season changes, or we’re sick of it. Consistency is for old people; not kids. Consistency with kids is an oxymoron and it makes us miserable. We dumped it.
2. We do what I enjoy doing.
I think I believed that I had to be long suffering to be a good mom. I had to enjoy doing all the things my mom did, or you do, or the pinteresting Facebook mom does against my will. That’s awfully tiresome if you’ve tried it.
I stink at sewing. And scrapbooking. And decorating cupcakes. And birthdays. And sports. And playdates. And video games.
But there is some kid-stuff that I like. I rule at braiding hair. Finding good library books. Making pizza dough. Talking about feelings. And spelling. (There’s other stuff.)
In relationships, people do what they agree upon with their friends. So I decided to form relationships with my kids around mutual interests instead of martyring myself to activities that I hate just so that I would be a cool mom or like moms I admire.
If my kids want to paint or play basketball or do Wii, they can do it without me. I smile and say, “I don’t like to do that.” Does that sound selfish? It’s not. They don’t really know what they like and don’t like yet, but I do. :) I introduce them to things I enjoy, hoping we can enjoy it together. I spent MONTHS trying to get them to listen to audiobooks, which I adore, but they refused. It took some persistence, but eventually, a rainy afternoon and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory made audio book listeners of my kids. Now we all enjoy listening to Harry Potter, and Junie B, and Wonder and so many other books that are better on audio.
My point is, I stopped trying to enjoy things with them that I’m terrible at and wouldn’t enjoy anyway. I’m the grown-up, so I taught them to enjoy things that we can do together. Win-win.
3. I count it a privilege to be their mom.