Before I had kids I had "it all figured out." I knew exactly how I was going to raise my children. That was before I ever had a husband or my sweet darlings came along. Give birth-and everything changes. Let me share a few examples:
-Before kids, at church "I can't believe how noisy (fill in the blank)s kids are being. Why don't they teach them anything about being reverent?"
-After kids, at church "Good grief-doesn't seem to matter what I try-I can't get my kids to be quiet or sit still. Where are those snacks?"
-Before kids "My kids are not going to watch TV ever. I will fill their days with games, outings, crafts and rough and tumble play."
-After kids "Would you all just please help me find the remote so I can turn on Dora and have a minute of peace and quiet."
-Before kids "We will be eating healthy foods at every meal. No sugary treats or junk food and certainly no snacks before meals."
-After kids "Okay, okay, just stop crying. I will give you just 3 more Cheetos and then it will be time for supper."
The thing is that there is no one else here to tell me what I should do in certain situations or to help when I am feeling totally exhausted or overwhelmed. It is me-I am the mom and I am doing the best that I can. I would love to say that I do it right all the time but that is not true. So lately I have started to do what works, what is not harmful or impairing to my children and what keeps the peace and I have also had to start telling Jo Frost (who is in my head) to "shut up." My kids are freaking out, we have already played, they have eaten, they are dressed, the blocks and dolls are all over the house and I need a break so I pop on a video and say, "shut up Jo I don't want to hear about having the TV babysit my children for 20 minutes." It is lunch time and we are having hot dogs and Cheetos for the second day in a row because everyone likes that and it is easy and so I put the plates down and I can see in my head Jo looking over her glasses at the camera saying, "she is serving junky Cheetos to her kids again," and I say "shut up Jo-we happen to love Cheetos in this house and look they are served along side cucumbers and tomatoes." Small fry has thrown 3 too many tantrums this morning while I tried to get her dressed to go outside so I bundle up the baby and tell small fry she can watch through the window and we go out. I can hear small fry screaming that she wants to come but I have had it and need a break and so out I go and I say, "Shut up Jo-I have already done time outs this morning-I need to cool off and so does she." I dump a couple of handfuls of candy in the bottom of my diaper bag to use as bribes at the basketball game while dad is coaching and I am wrangling the children and I say, "Shut up Jo-if it comes to bribes so be it." I wish I would have started telling myself this long ago. It would have saved me the time I was at Walmart, pumpkin was a newborn and I had to get a prescription filled. Walmart is notorious for slow lines at the pharmacy and Small Fry was throwing a fit. I felt my blood pressure rising and rising and nothing was working to keep her calm. I had a sucker in my diaper bag but didn't pull it out because I could hear the voice in my head saying, "That's like giving her a reward for screaming" and I was too worried about what everyone around me would think so I left the sucker in there and instead nearly knocked the eye glasses display over as I tried to get my giant cart out of that store and to the parking lot where I gave my toddler a smack on the bum and strapped her in her seat then drove home sobbing because I felt like a complete failure. The sucker would have eliminated all of that had I just done what was my best at the time and not worried about what anyone else said.
Lesson to anyone who may have a voice in their head: it is okay to tell it to shut up. You are the mom, you are doing your best, you don't have to compare yourself to anyone else. Mother, grandmother, mother in law, sister in law (that's for your Jenny), friend or neighbor-if their voice makes you feel inferior then stop listening to that voice when you are just doing the best you can. Thank heavens little kids are so loving and forgiving as their parents try and figure this whole job out.