I know - strange that I'm just now acknowledging this. The truth is that I'm just now realizing this.
I've always prided myself in being a very laid-back parent. Until this past year, there were very few things in my life I could honestly say I was "laid-back" about, but parenting was one of them. I thought my less-is-more approach would teach them independence and creativity. I even thought it would allow them to broaden their social skills. I've always thought that I could have 4+ children and still have time for hobbies and businesses that would nourish my soul creatively. I thought I would be able to take my small army of children out to restaurants or to other countries and expose them to all sorts of experiences. I assumed learning would come naturally for my kids, and that I could just nurture their creativity because the rest would come automatically. I thought my children would share everything, and own nothing - becoming best friends, roommates, and the best of playmates.
I tried very hard to do all of these things.
But friends, I was wrong.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've tried even harder to make sure my role as "Mom" didn't interfere with the rest of my life.
I'd like to assume that there are parents out there that can be laid-back and it totally works for their kids. There must be people who have a zillion children and still manage to keep a life full of adventure completely apart from being a "Mommy". (Although I grow less certain of this everyday.)
I hope these things are true, but I am unsure of them.
This is what I know for sure:
- I know that my oldest son needs a mom who will walk and talk him through appropriate social situations and reactions to social situations, rather than just allowing him to figure it out on his own.
- I know that my children need their own space. And their own things. And when they can take ownership in the above, they also learn to love and play together more like friends, and less like forced siblings.
- I know that my children gain nothing by being forced to go out to a restaurant as an entire family. Those social skills I thought I was teaching them in these situations? They are much better learned one-on-one during special times out with one of us, or just as easily in our own dining room at home.
- I know that to live the life I want, and pursue the dreams I have, then my new dream is going to just have to be a family of three boys - and I am completely and totally okay with that. In fact, the idea of it makes me smile.
- I know that I can't just take my kids to the park and sit on a bench, like I want to. Some parents can. However, I have a son that needs me up in his business and teaching him the tools he needs to interact and play with other kids - including his brothers.
- I know that for the time being, playdates won't just be me having coffee with another mom while our kids play off somewhere unsupervised. I know that I actually am scared of playdates as it stands now.
- I know that moms (or dads) that make the conscious decision to have many kids, and to raise them well, also make the conscious decision that it will be their full-time jobs for a bit of time, and other things may have to be put on the back burner the first few years.
Maybe I should have sat myself down awhile ago and given myself a stern "talking to".
Maybe better late than never.