In a conversation with a friend last week he informed me he had recently read an article stating you shouldn’t be your child’s best friend. It immediately made me think about that time I published some of my parenting beliefs.
It’s one of my favorite posts, mainly because it wasn’t just aimless ramblings, but written in direct response to a post on My Not So Humble Opinion.
Re-reading that post made me laugh. Hard. Writing in response to Bob at MNSHO brought out my best snark. I love Bob and I adore his somewhat myopic take on life. Even when I don’t agree with what he says, I find myself enjoying the eloquent way in which he says it. I’m a fan, and have been since I was a kid (yeah, for the longest time I’ve tried to maintain anonymity, but when Bob nominated me for the Liebster Award he outed me as his cousin…but who could complain about that?? It’s a freaking award! (And honestly? Re-reading THAT write up on the award cracked me up…bonus!) Anyway, I would like Bob even if we weren’t related.)
It also made me realize just how much life has changed since then.
When I wrote that post in August of 2012 I was on my way to Myrtle Beach in a minivan loaded with myself, The Hubs, and my three children. The Boy was 5 and The Twins had just turned 4. We were struggling with potty training, The Boy was about to start kindergarten and The Twins were heading off to Pre-K part time. Our marriage was rocky, to say the absolute least, but we were resigned to stay the course. We were embarking on yet another frazzled vacation that was completely planned by me in an attempt to reconnect as a family and enjoy some of the life we were struggling to keep.
Today, The Boy is just a month shy of his 9th birthday. The Twins are 7. Everyone is in school and The Hubs (I guess at this point I should start calling him The Ex-Hubs) and I have parted ways.
The biggest difference between then and now is that I don’t have a partner in the home. Sunday night through Friday afternoon I’m driving the crazy train that is my household, solo. I’m making breakfast, lunch, and dinner, slogging my way though the ridiculous amount of homework the kids have, bathing, grooming, and tucking the kids into bed, and fixing random things throughout the household that decided to stop working, all on my own.
I’ll never say a bad word publicly about The Ex-Hubs, he is a good man. We co-parent our children from separate households and are on very good terms with each other. We are kinder to each other than we were during the last years we were together and we both take responsibility for the dissolution of our marriage.
Back then, having another adult presence in the home was comforting, helpful and I absolutely miss the feeling of someone having my back; I’m a team player and thrive as part of a partnership. However, at that point in time it wasn’t working anymore and the feelings that situation generated were far scarier than the intimidation of doing it all on my own.
So while today I am extremely exhausted, it’s not very different from back then, just a different type of exhaustion. Back then I was managing a much larger home and trying to keep up with 3 small children who seemed intent on finding ways to hurt themselves with everyday items. Today I’m in a home half the size, I’ve taken on more of the physical household duties (oh how I despise taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn!) yet much of the stress in my life has dropped.
My parenting views haven’t changed much since back then, I’m getting a normal amount of sleep these days, the kids take care of 99% of their own bathroom functions, and I still don’t want to be their best friend. But, the nature of our split household has caused me to take a friendlier approach to parenting. I listen deeper and reflect on the things my children say a little bit longer now. I put effort into carving out one on one time with each of them, and I make it a point to laugh with all of them every day, even on the really, really hard days. Especially on the really, really hard days.
They question my authority now, but I attribute that to their ages, they don’t question my personal rank within our family, but they do question authority in general, a trait I’m proud thrives in my independent offspring.
They have told me they don’t like me (many times), they have been verbal about not liking many of the rules I have in place, but, as strange as it sounds, I count that as a success. They are talking to me. They are expressing their feelings. And they feel they are being heard.
Am I their best friend? No. Do I care? Not one bit. Do I hope the lines of communication remain open in the coming years? Hell yes! Do I have a fool-proof way of making that happen? Hell no.
Almost everything has changed from back then until now, except for this one thing: my children are my number one priority. Every single decision I have made since November 2006 when The Boy was born, even those that may appear selfishly motivated, has been made with my children at the forefront of my mind and the center of what motivates me.
I can’t say that I know more about being a parent today than I did back then when we were struggling to have certain members of the family make it through the night without peeing on themselves. Every time I think I know something about how to parent my three, they find new and creative ways to change things up and I’m scrambling to figure out what to do. I’m just as confused now as I was then.
But I’m sleeping now. And 99% of the time I’m not cleaning up poop. And honestly, I can’t even remember the last time I’ve been thrown up on. Which is a celebration in and of itself 😁
-Slacking slightly less.
(Note to P: this ONE time you can call me a Mommy Blogger. Just this once 😉 )