I think I was a much better parent before I had kids. Back then, my kids would never talk back and they would always do as they were told. I would never lose my temper and I would always stand my ground. I had the whole thing figured out. I saw the parents with screaming kids and thought there is no way any child of mine will ever act like that! (As if I would have a magic look that would stop a hysterical 2-year-old in his tracks!) Boy was I wrong about it all. Turns out I have gone back on most everything I said I would never do. Turns out you really don’t know how you’ll react in a given situation until you are actually in it. I’ve realized that I unfairly judged parents who were just doing their best to get by. Turns out I ended up being the parent of a 2 ½ year old with a binky… and it was me who bought the screaming kid a toy to get him to be quiet… and it was me who had a baby sleep in my bed for 2 months because it was easier than listening to him cry. Oh yeah, I did all the things I said I’d never do.
So I’ve decided to give up using these absolutes in raising my boys. Luckily, I’ve learned I don’t know it all. I don’t know now what will be best for them then, so why even hold myself to a standard I can’t keep. It’s unfair. I think when you make statements about what you’ll never do, sometimes your actions become more about keeping your word than doing what is best in the real situation. Well, I don’t need the added stress. So even though I’d like to think the boys will not have TVs in their rooms, I won’t say never. And while I think milk with dinner is best, I won’t say always. I won’t pass judgment on parents of older kids when I witness them doing something that the parent I am today does not agree with. I will hope and pray that my boys make smart decisions, stay out of trouble and do well in school. And while I’ll do all that I can to raise them to do the right things, I cannot, at this point, say that they actually will. This mindset should not be confused with an easy-way out-approach to parenting. It’s not. Quite the opposite, I would argue. I think it’s more difficult to watch your children exert their independence and be their own little people; with little personalities that you could not have accounted for – and to learn that you are not totally in control. It’s not to say I won’t have standards, but I just know that today, without all the context of tomorrow, I am ill-equipped to say what I will or will not do. I think it’s foolish of anyone to think they know.
The only thing I feel comfortable assuring is that I will always love my kids – that will never change. But it won’t be dependent on them doing (or not doing) anything. It will be unconditional. I will love them for the unique little beings that they are, despite the fact that they will have, undoubtedly, broken all of my rules.