My B+ Attempts at Being All That

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Not Reading to My Child . . . and other laziness that makes for a better mom

on August 16, 2014

Jeremy's iPod 099Lydia Mom crowns

“I’m bored.”

We’ve all been there: the kids expecting us to fix, entertain, fill their lives with wonder and amazement. I’m no expert, mind you, but I have watched some (what I view to be) successful and some unsuccessful moms who love, who devote, who raise children and do other things “on the side” (work, etc.). And I have learned that moms who have raised kids into adults I respect and admire have sometimes skipped a bedtime story or (gasp) gone for a pedicure instead of playing board games on a Saturday.

Mom, mother yourself

I think often about the airline advice to get your own air mask on and then attend to your child.  Yes, the nagging inside (and various parenting books and articles) tell us that the child should come first in all circumstances, but logic would dictate that it is not true in all.  If we don’t put on our air mask and take care of ourselves on a very basic level, what will be left to give to our children?  I’m not saying that taking a “break” by ironing your clothes is a lifeline for you, and I’m not saying that every day the choice should be to only reading one book instead of the normal three. I am saying, however, (and on some levels this is from experience) that if you don’t “take care of you” and your (at the time) basic needs, you will have very little to offer your child.  It’s Maslow and the hierarchy on an emotional level.  When I take the time and effort to meet some basic need, whether it is to shave my legs, balance my checkbook, read a book, do some work, I will be a better mom to my child.

Sure, I’ll help (eye roll, sigh, another sigh)

Jesus reminds us to serve in love, give in love.  If it is out of guilt or obligation, then it is almost worse than not serving at all.  If we don’t “stand our ground” every once in a while and choose our sanity at the time, we will be serving with a chip, a grudge, distraction, and that will stick in our children’s minds also.  I already hear it in mine occasionally when younger kids ask her for help on things.  If it interrupts something she wants to do, she will noticeably sigh and then in a very martyr-like fashion, stop what she’s doing and “help”.  I’m learning through my child and her “I guess if I have to” behavior that I’m not serving my children (and in turn God) in love all the time, either.  And I’m learning that it’s okay to need something for me every once in a while.  It’s not abuse to tell our children “no”.  It’s self-preservation.  And if it puts you at ease for the next day and increases your odds of having a good day, think about what kind of mom you will be that next night when given the opportunity to play before dinner or read five books.

Better Tiny Humans

I also think that when we constantly jump when our children even start to think about asking us to jump, we run the risk of enabling entitlement. Will our kids’ future bosses drop everything to make them feel comfortable? Will their future spouses devote every moment to making sure they feel affirmed? Will their friends be at their beck and call to ensure there is not one moment of boredom? Will our kids learn how to fill time on their own? Will they be able to able to function in real-world situations that do not have us there encouraging, warning, cheerleading? I say that they may not. I say they could very well be waiting for an outwardly audible voice saying, “You are terrific, and everyone loves you,” rather than a voice inside their head that is their own, trained to recognize their gifts and abilities, boundaries and limitations. Equip; don’t enable. Give them the tools and occasionally send them out to build the doghouse, write the paper, fill the free time on their own, and love them while they’re doing it. But certainly, most certainly, read to them when you are able to do it without “having to.”

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