Back when I was newly pregnant, I did what any crazy person expectant parent does – I bought books and books and books on how to be pregnant, how to give birth, how to survive the first year. I was going to ROCK THIS. Then I lost my first baby, even though the books barely touched on that topic and made it sound like it was a rarity. (The chances are 25-50%, according to my doctor). I waited a full cycle before trying again and was soon pregnant with Graham.

I still turned to the books for guidance when it came to pregnancy and delivery and even though my birth experience was anything but “textbook” (9 lb., 12 oz. baby (ON HIS DUE DATE), episiotomy, suction extractor, full spinal because the OR team was waiting to take me for a C-Section, forceps, ginormous baby, 4th degree tear)(The nurses would come to check me out and make That Face – the “I’M SO SORRY” face). I don’t remember reading any of that in the books I bought.

In the first year of Graham’s life, I would turn to the books to see if I was doing it “right”. Was he sleeping enough? Too much? When should I introduce solids? Was he eating enough? Too much? I spent so much time reading and charting and MAKING MYSELF CRAZY that when Nathan came along…I didn’t crack a single page. Heck, I’d kept one kid alive for twenty months before Nathan appeared on the scene; surely I could keep two alive. And so I did.

Keeping two human beings alive apparently gave me enough confidence to make a third baby and just over two years after Nathan arrived, we had Miss Emily. Three kids in under four years – who had time to read? I was doing all that I could to make it out of the house fully clothed and in my right mind. I sometimes failed at doing so, but that’s a story for another day.

Fast forward four years and I’ve come to realize that I have no idea what I’m doing. And that maybe “winging it” is a far better option that trying to follow some rules that may have worked for somebody else but won’t necessarily work for your family.

Please and Thank You are required in our house. If you hurt someone, even by accident, you say Sorry. When you’re done your meal, you clean up after yourself and put your dishes in the sink (I’m particular about how my dishwasher is loaded). If you are having a Bad Attitude, you get to go to your room and think about whether you want to keep that attitude or ditch it in favor of spending time with the rest of your family. You’re welcome to spread out coloring sheets/Play Doh/crafts on the kitchen table, but when you’re done you clean it up. When supper is being made, you get to help by setting the table/filling water glasses/putting condiments out. We don’t call each other mean names. EVER.

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a tyrant in that I say, “No” and “What do you say?” and “Go to your room and think about that” many times in a day. But then I remember that I say, “Yes” and “I love you” and “You make me so happy to be your Mom” a hundred times more. Those moments of struggle are worth the many more moments where I’m genuinely happy to be in the company of these little people who make me laugh all day long.

Examples. I have them.

***

Matthew went on a fishing trip this past weekend and like I any good wife, I was getting ready for his return. Dude is a clean freak and so to woo him upon his return, I spent all morning cleaning the house with the aid of the kids. They cleaned up toys, tidied their rooms and even helped me clean the bathrooms. I KNOW.

They were so thorough and helpful that I also thought I’d surprise them by giving them each $3. I called them all upstairs and asked them to put their hands out. All three of them s l o w l y raised their hands like they were being held up at gunpoint.

I said, “Put your hands OUT”, not “Put your hands UP”. After I stopped laughing (and gave them their loot), I asked them for a reenactment. A little overdone, but I wanted to document this. (It appears I AM a tyrant.)

***

Diesel gets kibbles a few times a day, often with whatever leftover meat we have. When he gets plain kibbles, he is none too pleased. I asked Graham to feed the dog and he came back inside with this tidbit:

I gave Diesel his kibbles and he looked at me and was all, “Dude. You have GOT to be kidding me.”

He’s seven going on seventeen.

***

Where am I going with this? I don’t even know. I sat down with the intent of writing about how my oldest son will be turning eight (EIGHT) in a few months and that I have no idea what I’m doing, but all of the above came tumbling out. The teenage years will likely be a different story, but for now it appears that we might be doing all right, just flying by the seat of our pants.

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Comments:

  1. Heidi F August 23, 2010 8:47 am edit

    You have amazing kids – it’s a blessing to watch them grow and develop. Your careful and thoughtful parenting is very evident!

    1. angella August 23, 2010 8:07 pm edit

      Aw, thanks, Heidi. I think a lot of it is their inherent personalities…and the fact that they have Matthew (Superdad) as their Daddy. I do my part to back him up. :)

  2. Kristabella August 23, 2010 8:58 am edit

    If I’ve learned anything from being around people and witnessing them raising their kids, it is that the people who tend to be so tied to the book and the manuals, tend to have kids that aren’t as well adjusted. (I’m not making a sweeping generalization, just an observation from 2 people in my life who were all about books, etc. and their babies suffered a little because of it.)

    I think the best way is to raise them to be good people and enjoy life and be nice to others and love them lots! Just like you’re doing!
    .-= Kristabella´s last blog ..My Gram =-.

  3. ChrisB August 23, 2010 9:22 am edit

    From what I can tell from afar you are doing pretty well flying from the seat of your parenting pants. Common sense helps!
    .-= ChrisB´s last blog ..Happy Birthday- Sunshine! =-.

    1. angella August 23, 2010 8:08 pm edit

      Yes! Common sense! It’s a tragedy that it’s not always so “common”… ;)

  4. Ashley August 23, 2010 9:28 am edit

    Too cute! Looks like you’ve been winging it right so far, so I wouldn’t sweat the teenage years. I totally believe the relationships we form with our kids now is what carries us through the tough times later :)
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..Shes a Mover and a Shaker =-.

  5. Tanya August 23, 2010 9:30 am edit

    Six kids around here (so far ;0) and with my oldest having a year of University under his belt, he is now ready to move out, I still am not sure I have done, or know what, the right thing to do is…. It is just natural to strive daily to do our best and wonder whether we are making all the right decisions, the results are the BEST parenting we can do!!! Don’t wonder whether you are doing each and every thing right, rather just ENJOY! (which we know you do do) Keep the doubts to a minimum, as they take a little away from our lives as Mothers and Wives…. I’m having to make myself LET GO, a little more each day. This starts when they are sooo young and I have come to realize that it does not get easier. *sniff, sniff* Love to you and your family from one “always a Mother first” to another! Great post, as always :)

    1. angella August 23, 2010 8:10 pm edit

      You are such a great encourager, Tanya. You always make me smile. :)

  6. Laura Radniecki August 23, 2010 10:42 am edit

    I have a feeling I’m going to be buying a bunch of books when it’s my turn to have a family … but I’m more inclined to turn to people like you who’ve been there and conquered it, and thrived. And the pic of them with their hands in the air – priceless. Adore it.
    .-= Laura Radniecki´s last blog ..Nicole &amp Josiah – Married!!! =-.

  7. sizzle August 23, 2010 10:52 am edit

    You’re an awesome mom that’s why you have awesome kids.
    .-= sizzle´s last blog ..I’ll Always Be Older =-.

  8. Kerri Anne August 23, 2010 11:23 am edit

    I mean it when I say your kids are three of the most fantastic people I have ever met. There are lots of reasons for that, not the least of which being you and Matthew are helping to raise them to be kind, loving, creative, hilarious souls.
    .-= Kerri Anne´s last blog ..Stand In The Place Where You Live =-.

  9. Ninabi August 23, 2010 1:50 pm edit

    Looks to me like you are doing just fine- happy, healthy, good children.

    The teenage years have their own pitfalls but I think if you have a solid family going into that time, it’s going to be fine. I enjoyed the little-kid years (Christmas, the cute Halloween costumes, trips to Grandmas) but my husband said he enjoyed the children more and more as they grew older- the biggest surprise being a daughter whose career interests mirrored his own.

    I liked “hands up” instead of “hands down”- too funny!
    .-= Ninabi´s last blog ..The calm before the storm =-.

    1. Ninabi August 23, 2010 1:51 pm edit

      Oops. Meant “hands out”. Hands down I’m lacking caffeine this afternoon….:)
      .-= Ninabi´s last blog ..The calm before the storm =-.

      1. angella August 23, 2010 8:05 pm edit

        I had three cups – we balance each other out. :) (Also, thanks.)

  10. whoorl August 23, 2010 3:59 pm edit

    You definitely don’t need a manual, Miss Angella. :) I hope I get the chance to meet those awesome kiddos one day.
    .-= whoorl´s last blog ..I Think I’m in Love — Tucker for Target at Gilt =-.

  11. Sarah August 24, 2010 12:15 am edit

    Your kids are cute! And I am not just saying that because I dragged Vahid to go see a documentary with me about babies (titled Babies! But without the exclamation point) and am high with the cuteness. Seriously, cute. Your kids not dragging Vahid to babies that was more funny.

    And you are doing a wonderful job, seriously. I spend most of my working time wanting to punch parents to suck at the whole raising kids thing (and not letting them throw GLASS perfume bottles on the floors!) so I know these things. Yep.

  12. Hilary August 24, 2010 3:19 am edit

    You kids are so cute, not only with their looks but their personality. You did an amazing job! I don’t believe in books or manuals. Every situation is different… I like to go with my gut! I too am a dishwasher tyrant. It is just my husband & I, but I am forever reloading it, because he “didn’t do it right!”
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Are you going to eat that =-.

  13. sarahviz August 24, 2010 6:29 am edit

    You are ABSOLUTELY doing it right, momma.
    .-= sarahviz´s last blog ..This Will Make the Hair On Your Arms Stand Up – A True Life Ghost Story =-.

  14. Kellye August 24, 2010 8:48 am edit

    Aren’t you just in awe some days that you really get to do this? It’s amazing! Great job at winging it! We’re fans of it as well!

  15. Danica August 24, 2010 12:49 pm edit

    Adora will also be EIGHT YEARS OLD in a few months (and she weighed in at 9lbs 11 oz – I can SO relate to your birth story).
    I love the hold-up pose. Hilarious.
    .-= Danica´s last blog ..Kid Zone =-.

  16. Rebecca August 24, 2010 1:26 pm edit

    Ahahaha! That is so funny and cute!
    :) I think we’re all winging it!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..100th Post Showing Life Is Beautiful &amp A Giveaway! =-.

  17. Kami's Khlopchyk August 24, 2010 1:44 pm edit

    The stick up position is hiliarious! I love your kids :)

    Parenting without a manual is the ONLY way to parent in my experience. Unless you like ulcers.
    .-= Kami’s Khlopchyk´s last blog ..What I love about my boys growing up =-.

  18. Hannah August 25, 2010 2:41 pm edit

    I think we are meant to have no manual(s) (because let’s face it, we’d need a different one for each kid, no?) for a REASON. I know I have grown more as a person and learned more about myself since becoming a parent than I ever would have before. Sometimes we need to learn things through trial & error, by making mistakes, by trying things out, by experimenting, by sheer hard work, by guessing, by prayer and support from others. I do think that’s how God intended it to be. :-)

    P.S. GREAT shot of your kids … I especially love Graham’s expression, he looks seriously concerned!
    .-= Hannah´s last blog ..I’m sorey … =-.

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