My Evolution as a Mom

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When I had my first baby, I was short to temper and quick to impatience. I was more concentrated on everything LOOKING perfect, rather than being okay. I cooked and cleaned and did laundry all. Day. Long. While a sweet-tempered, patient baby sat waiting for my attention. When I should have been coaxing grins and playing peek-a-boo, I was mopping (again) and cooking (myself into a frenzy).

When my second baby came along, I recognized what I had done and tried to rectify things. I could maintain perfect, while still giving my children the attention they need. I worked outside the home, full time, then I’d run home, play with two precious little boys, make an ok dinner, bathtime and bedtime routines, and then I was up late cleaning and laundry and paying bills, and… you get the point. I was tired and run down and, once again, short to temper and quick to impatience. Obviously no one benefits this way.

With my third baby, I’d learned a lesson. I quit my job the day after I found out I was pregnant (for reasons unrelated to the pregnancy), and I had time to savor this pregnancy. I knew this would be our last. I also knew that it FLIES, and instead of counting down days until his birth, instead of wishing he were out so I could be more productive and less uncomfortable I cherished every. Single. Day. Every flutter, every kick, every hiccup. I was excited to see him, but in no hurry to evict him from his comfy, cozy home. When he was born, I let clean laundry sit in the basket for a couple of days, until I had several loads to put away all at once. Meals were still nutritious, but they were no longer anything fancy. The house is clean, but I’ve learned that a few toys scattered in the living room or down the hallway isn’t a big deal. There will be time to pick them up later. The dishwasher gets loaded in the evening, rarely before then.

Giggles, grins, peek-a-boo, colors and letters, bathtime and bedtime, are TREASURED moments, not something to check off of a to-do list. Instead of plopping him in a stroller and rushing to our next destination, I have slowed down and now walk at his pace. I’m seeing the world in new and exciting ways. The bark of a dog, ignored in the past, is now an adventure to see which yard the sound is coming from. Bugs are exciting! When you make eye contact and smile, people often return the favor. Neighbors LOVE receiving waves and a sweet little “hi!” from a two-year-old.

This is not to say that my older two boys were neglected. It’s not to say I don’t love them. They are my life, and they are valued little beings. I’m not saying that DH didn’t help out. I’m saying that when I look back on my actions as a parent, I could have done better. I’m sure that as parents, we’ll always look back and have our less-than-proud moments. I think that what separates the good from the bad is that some of us learn from it and try to do better.

We slow down, we cool our tempers, we extend our patience one more minute and another minute after that. We realize that we are shaping HUMANS. We are forming lives. When our children grow into adults and fall back on experience and memories, it is US who shaped that. I want my children to smile when they think about their childhoods. I want monsters under the bed to be the worst memory they have. Well, that and mean mom making them complete homework. ;)

Admitting that I’m not all I could have been isn’t easy. I hate to think of a moment when my children watched, wishing for more. It’s a physical pain to think of a baby waiting on mom to look his way. I’m not perfect, but I’m striving for perfection. I’ll get as close as possible, without causing my children to sacrifice. The fact is… perfection is defined in different ways. A sparkling house and three-course meals are no longer my definition. Smiling babies, giggles, hugs, quiet time, and snuggling…these sound closer, to me.

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