We were at the dinner table recently when Alexa, who is now 22-years-old, asked me if I think I’m raising the babies differently than I raised her and Maria.
Wow. Talk about a loaded question. I had to think about it. And I had to tread lightly.
The truth is – I am.
How could I not be a different mom this time around? For many reasons.
None of which is because I love the babies more.
I am older. Wiser. Times have changed. I’m certainly not going to make the same mistakes I’ve made in the past. Not if I can help it.
Yes. I’ve made mistakes.
And, yes, I still do.
Now, I just learn from them!
The biggest difference now is that I’m home with the babies. I call them babies, but they are 3 and 6. They’re my babies. I’m so fortunate to have an amazingly supportive husband and the ability to work from home. Yes. Work from home.
I am not a stay-at-home-mom, I am a work-at-home-mom. There is a HUGE difference. Still, I’m home.
When my big girls were younger – from the time they were 2 & 3 up until I married Scott in 2007 – I was a single mom and had NO option. I had to work. In fact, at one point, I actually had a second job. (A long time ago, for about six months, while I worked at Channel 2, I also worked as a bartender one night a week. Every Friday. My boss didn’t know – well, he probably did. It was the worst kept secret. Literally everyone I worked with came to the bar (restaurant really) every Friday night. It was actually fun. And I made good money. And I kept my sanity. My girls stayed with their father on Friday nights – so if I didn’t work, I might have been home sulking and missing them. So win-win.)
Anyway – my point is – I worked outside of the home.
So that was different.
Also, I am WAYYYY more patient now. That comes with age, my friends.
I’ve faced adversity, challenges, sad times, and really difficult times – and they’ve all sort of formed the me I am now. So, regardless of parenting skills or anything else, that makes a difference. I’m different.
I don’t worry about the small stuff. I mean, no way. There’s just no time. I savor in the sweetness of life – as cliche’ as that sounds. I really do.
I’m much more ‘chill’ than I was as a single-mom back in the day. Oh goodness, I was a wreck half the time!
I have less time for BS these days. That’s totally an age thing, too! So less time for BS and drama means more time for joy and fun with my girls. All of them.
I also know now how important it is to actually take time for ME. I love my ME time. Like, love it!
When it comes to differences, there are negatives, too.
I am on my phone too often – and wasn’t back then. I know it annoys Emma. I’m working on that.
Regardless of all of that – there are plenty of things I know now – that I wish I knew then.
- Kids don’t always eat. Gosh, I used to worry like crazy if the girls didn’t eat. They’ll get sick. They need the nourishment. What am I doing wrong???? You realize along the way – they will eat food when they need food. They eat to live and their little bodies know – somehow – exactly what they need and when.
- They don’t always like you. Yeah, this is hard to swallow for sure. It used to break my heart. Now – eh, it’s cool. I’m good. I know they’ll like me again in a bit.
- Kids do not seem to have too much down time. You really do have to take advantage of it. I used to think cleaning the house or doing laundry was the best thing to do during sleep time. Not these days. When they go to bed, I relax. No questions asked. Somehow the laundry still gets done.
- Kids cry. A lot. The truth is – you can’t make everything better all the time – so don’t let them think you can. If only I had a dollar for every time one of my girls said “mom will fix it” Sure, the little problems are fine, but remember — The bigger they get – the bigger the problems get!!! They need to learn to navigate through life and problem solve on their own.
- It’s okay to say no. In fact, it is healthy. Giving in now makes for some difficult times ahead. AND on that note… It’s okay to say yes, too. Oh, who cares if they’ll get dirty or make a mess – let ’em play with play-doh, finger paints – making mud pies is fun, too. Think happiness over cleanliness!
- Also – instead of worrying they’ll get hurt jumping off the couch, line the floor with pillows and let them go nuts!
- Kids are amazing humans. Just when you’ve reached your boiling point, they’ll hand you a bouquet of freshly picked flowers or offer up one of their precious slobbery kisses. There is nothing like their unconditional love. Nothing. So, don’t forget to appreciate it.
- Kids are smart. You can’t fool them. Just read the whole bedtime story. They’ll bust you for skipping pages. Savor the moments – eventually they won’t want you to read to them anymore. 🙁
- Kids grow up in the blink of an eye. One day they won’t leave your lap and the next day they’re graduating from high school. Before you know it they’re all grown and I can guarantee 100% – you will miss all these times. You’ll wish you’d been more patient, more in-the-moment.
This is why all the things we worry about as young or new moms are not that important after all. Once we figure it out – the rest is cake.
Sweet, frosting-topped cake!!!
The most important thing to keep in mind as we walk this journey of parenthood – there’s no such thing as a perfect parent – we just do the best we can. Time spent searching for perfection is time wasted. Love with all your heart, surround yourself with imperfect friends, and an amazing not nearly-perfect husband and you will have the most perfectly imperfect life. 🙂