When I was young and single, I would envision the family that I would have and the kind of mother I would be. I would create disciplinary strategies, structured schedules and be baffled (in a way only non-parents are) by mothers whose children seemed “out of control” whatsoever. I dreamt of the active, productive, creative beings that I would bring into this world to nurture and the kind of “Janeen Brady” adventures we’d have. I would be the perfect mother. I had it all figured out.
Sometime later, I found the man of my dreams, tied the knot and immediately (like 9 months and 2 weeks later) started a family. I soon saw that, while my goals were worthy, my game plan was quite unrealistic. Each child is a individual. A living, breathing person with likes and dislikes, quickly formed opinions on certain things (like bedtime and taking medicine), and does not feel any social pressure whatsoever for “polite public conduct” (such as having a bowel explosion in church that oozed all over mommy’s dress . . . classy).
Fast forward seven years. Three (and a half) kids and a whole lot of adventure later, I still have the goal of raising active, productive and creative beings. Only my game plan has changed. Dramatically. On some days, I feel rather successful. Other days, I think I was misguided from the beginning and think television (which my children only watch occasionally) is a pretty great alternative.
Consider this. While trying to motivate my children to be active, they often “activate” themselves all over my house: hanging from the staircase railings like monkeys, using our elevated counters as a dancing stage, and playing leapfrog from bed to bed (once resulting in the total annihilation of an antique vanity bench that I inherited as a child . . . it was a sad day).
As for their creative genius? Oh, they have it. In spades. And I have the evidence to prove it: splatter painted glitter glue all over our newly painted playroom, red paint mosaics to accompany the glitter glue job, purple nail polish embellishments in our newly-carpeted Master Suite, eye pencil illustrations on our ivory painted cabinets in the Master Bath, Crayola Marker (thank goodness) accents on their (okay, GRACIE’S) ivory bed, and – the Grand Prize Winner – the emptying of an entire gallon of ivory paint all over their newly-carpeted bedroom floor (and trailed throughout the upstairs) and all over Gracie’s new bed linens and comforter (thank goodness a lot of water and a few hours of major scrubbing took care of most of the job . . . minus the bed linens and comforter).
Luckily (at least thus far), they seem productive. Whatever they set their minds to do they accomplish. Whether good or otherwise. They love doing their jobs as long as incentives are involved (just a few pennies contribution to their Disneyland jar and they’re thrilled!) and joyously (most nights) do their dinner duty (they still find it exciting to do chores alongside mom and dad . . . pray that lasts). Bonus. In this area, I feel like a winner.
However, on bad days, there are ego-boosting benefits to being pregnant (though just typing that sentence makes me chortle). On the days when the “Hyde” of all your “Jekyll” dreams rears its ugly head and you feel misguided, unrealistic and – frankly – a failure, all you have to do is go to your pregnancy calendar and read “making hair follicles today” and – in an instant - you feel like a miracle worker worthy of the ultimate praise.
So, despite the ways my children may “activate” themselves today or choose to display their creative genius, I can sit back and look at my pregnancy calendar and feel like the “Mother of the Year.”
Cheers, friends. Cheers.
QUESTION: What have you done today worth celebrating?
CHALLENGE: Focus on the good you’ve accomplished to bring you peace during trying times.