The parent I am now is NOT the parent I was when I first became a mom seven years ago. Now that it is two against six or, during the work week, one against six, my mantra is “survival of the fittest”. I’ve had to loosen the reigns to not only survive but because, quite frankly, some of my previous notions as a parent were kind of ridiculous. (Hindsight is always 20/20, right?)
First child: I can vividly remember saying (and, in case I forgot, my mother-in-law has been very helpful in reminding me, LOL) that my first child would never ever be allowed to sleep over at anyone’s house. It’s not that I didn’t trust our parents. I was more worried I would miss him and no one would know how to take care of him like I take care of him and he would be miserable without me. I didn’t let him sleep over anywhere without me for at least the first eight to ten months. Sixth child: Now? With baby #6? She has had at least three nights away from me in her four short months of life. And my other kids can’t wait to spend time away from me (who they see all day every day). Seriously. We pull into grandma and grandpa’s driveway and the kids are like, “See ya never!” We live three hours from our families (aka our babysitters) and, honestly, I look forward to the few precious hours we can spend away from our kids when we go back home to visit. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, no?
First child: I was very diligent in filling out my first child’s baby book. I even had a scrapbook of his first year of life. I literally took THOUSANDS of pictures of him in his first year of life. Like, I’m pretty sure his first word was “cheese” because of how often I had that camera out. I wanted to make sure I preserved every single memory possible. I also made sure that I had recent pictures of him plastered all over our wall. Sixth child: I own one of those fancy-shmancy cameras now. And while I still love to take pictures, I don’t take nearly as many pictures now as I did then. I don’t even have our updated family picture on the wall, or any pictures of our sixth baby printed out. She does have a baby book. That the hospital gave us. That has absolutely nothing in it except for her handprints and footprints from right after she was born. That the nurses put in there for us. BUT each of our kids has a memory box full of different trinkets (coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits, first haircut trimmings, hospital bracelets, birthday cards, etc.), so I’m not too out of touch. 😉
First child: When it came to food, I swore up and down, left and right that my child would never eat sugar, or fast food. I found it alarming that some parents allowed their kids to eat *gasp* non-organic macaroni and cheese. I know, right? Sixth child: While I do try to feed my kids healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, I don’t lose sleep over my kids eating Happy Meals or sno-cones every once in a while. My mama-sanity sometimes depends on a trip through the drive-thru. Plus it gives me an excuse to order myself a caramel frappe. 😉
First child: My first baby never watched television. I used to be a naïve TV “snob” and couldn’t believe that some parents actually let their kids watch the electronic box. I eventually tip-toed my way into the world of kids’ TV via Baby Einstein. I mean, with a name like that it had to be worlds better than SpongeBob What’s-his-name. Sixth child: By the sixth baby, I have definitely become more lax with my TV censorship. Typically I don’t like my kids to watch more than a couple of hours of television during the day. But during the freezing cold winter months, and with having a newborn, and a crazy homeschool schedule, and kids that think 5:30 is an appropriate wake-up time… Sometimes we have the TV on more than I would like. And that’s just how life is right now. It won’t always be like this. Remember… This is survival of the fittest, parenting-style.
First child: Whenever my first child’s pacifier fell to the ground, I would wash it off and, more often than not, sterilize it in boiling water. Any piece of food that fell to the floor would promptly be thrown away. Sixth child: I quickly inspect the pacifier and then pop it back in the baby’s mouth without a second thought. (Unless we are at a store or anywhere else in public. I’m not that gross.) Dropped food? No biggie. We have the ten minute rule around here. When my kids are scavenging for lost Cheerios in the couch, I take that as a signal that I probably need to feed them.
First child: My first child was held by either my husband or myself all. the. time. I honestly don’t remember using the bouncy seat when he was a baby, and we didn’t own a bumbo. I even had a hard time letting family and friends hold him. Ridiculous, right? Sixth child: I do have to say that our sixth child is also held the majority of the time. But by her older siblings. Seriously, they bicker about who gets to hold her, and there are plenty of “You are a baby hog” comments that are shouted out every day. So while I don’t hold my baby as much as I held my first one, she is still getting snuggled up and loved on pretty much every minute of the day.
First child: I vowed I would never, ever be angry with my sweet firstborn. Looking at my tiny, innocent newborn, I not only thought, “My child will never ever do something naughty enough to provoke anger out of me,” but I also thought, “I will never, ever be mad at/frustrated with my child.” Famous last words. Er, thoughts. Sixth child: I’ve learned that, while my kids are angels, they are most certainly not perfect. They are humans and have a big learning curve. On occasion they will need correction. On occasion they will make me upset. And that is okay. That is life with kids. The good news is that, over the years, I’ve learned that consistency is key. And while my sixth child doesn’t have the capability to be “naughty” right now, I know that, at some point in the future, I will have to put my parenting skills to use.
First child: I remember holding my son for the first time, gazing at this tiny person who was fully dependent on me. My heart literally grew three inches that day. I couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than I loved my firstborn. When I got pregnant with our second child when my first was only 9 months old, I remember worrying that I would never be able to love another baby as much as I loved my first. My mind couldn’t even fathom it. Sixth child: I think it is safe to say that a mother’s love is not divided but rather multiplied. I’m always amazed at the instant love I feel after the birth of each of our children. I love our sixth baby as much as I loved our first. And the love each of my kids have for each other is nothing short of heartwarming. It makes all of the times they argue and fight a little more bearable.
For those of you with kids, how has your parenting style changed over the years? Are you more lax than you were at the beginning?