I was so excited. We were going out to eat, at an actual restaurant….the sit down kind, for the first time in at least a year. I had all seven us looking our shiny best as we walked into the restaurant. This was going to be fantastic!!!! About 15 minutes into the meal one of the boys began to wail. I tried giving him a cracker but he was not to be distracted. I leaned over to my hubby and told him I would take this one outside to the van and he could stay in and eat with the other boys. I promptly picked up the screaming child and exited the eatery. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I was so looking forward to a nice meal that someone else cooked and cleaned up after. With all of our kids being so young (they were 5, 4, 3, 3 and not quite 1) this was a rare occasion. My husband was disgruntled when he returned to the van. “Why’d you just leave like that?” “Because all the other people in there did not pay good money to hear our baby’s cry throughout their entire meal. It’s called being a responsible parent.”
It’s time to grab your life jackets friends and batten down the hatches. I’m about to steer this blog into troubled waters. Ok is everyone buckled up and holding tightly to the railing? Here we go------o…….
My last blog was about one of the biggest lessons I have learned as a parent, learning to let go of my need of others acceptance and approval and just doing the right thing for my child. Today I am going to tackle the opposite side of that coin. I call it considerate, responsible parenting. I did not want people to get the wrong idea when they read my last blog. Whenever possible I try to be considerate to the other people who surround me. There are the rare occasions, such as the Wal-Mart story of my last blog, where a public meltdown is unavoidable. I was dealing with a deeper heart issue, my NEED to have others approval and acceptance above and beyond what was right for my child. That in no way negates the need for considerate, responsible parenting.
I have had to say no more often than I have said yes as a parent, even when it has broken my heart. This past school year my kids got strep on the week three of them had their ONLY field trip of the year. All year the teachers had been pumping them up for this day. They were on antibiotics for 24 hrs but I knew they would still be contagious to the other children so I kept them home. It broke my heart because they were looking forward to this day ALL year. There were tears, lots of tears, that made me feel like the lowest of the low creatures alive….somewhere below pond scum on the charts. However, I knew it was the right decision to make as a considerate parent.
I have spoken of some of the lowest points for me personally and some of the heights. I am by no means a perfect standard to judge by. I have messed up frequently and will make many more mistakes in the future. Not because I desire to but because I am not perfect in any way. That being said, many women come to me with questions and looking for advice. I guess they figure that if you have enough kids you’re bound to learn something along the way or maybe they figure with this many kids I have probably made every mistake there is and they can learn by avoiding my example. Either way I field a lot of questions. “What do I do?!? Johnny pushed a popcorn kernel up his nose.” “Why won’t Katie potty train?” “What Dr do you use?” etc, etc...You get the point. Many of these questions have simple answers. “Have Johnny blow his nose as hard as he can. If that doesn’t work go to the pediatrician.” “I’m not an expert but I would say it’s probably because she’s not even a year old yet. I hate to tell you but you have a lot more diapers in your future.” “Pediatrician or Developmental Pediatrician?” Unfortunately some of the advice I have to give is not so popular. These lessons are the ones that were hardest won for me. My last blog I addressed one of those issues. Today I’m addressing another. Being a responsible, considerate parent often means being selfless. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever do. It will take everything you have and then it will demand more. At that point you will change, you will grow. You will give up who you are to become who you are meant to be. I know this goes against all that pop culture will teach you. Today you are taught that you DESERVE to have things your way and that you NEED to hold onto yourself above all else. Unfortunately the ones who pay the price for our self-indulgence are our children. Then we wonder why our children grow up to be self-absorbed and selfish. The answer is simple: They learned by our example. This sounds very harsh and I am sure will not make me many friends. But that does not change the truth. Sometimes you won’t get to have the dinner you have been looking forward to, sometimes your kids will cry because life isn’t fair and they missed their field trip, sometimes you will have to be judged by others because you choose to do what is right. Sometimes you will have to be unpopular (I could give a class on this one;)
Now for the good news: Being a parent is the most AMAZING ride you will have in life. It’s way better than the biggest roller coaster or the tastiest chocolate. Every sacrifice you make will be small in comparison to privilege of bringing a little life into the world and guiding that life into adulthood. There is NOTHING better. Friends before I sign off I have to say I am blessed to be a part of your lives. Lots of hugs-Kristine