Parenting is a messy job. Definitely not for the faint of heart. So instead of making a list of New Year’s Resolutions, I decided to make a list of when I really shined or didn’t shine as a parent last year. However, in an effort to protect the innocent (and the not so innocent), and the fact I can barely remember what happened yesterday, I’m sticking to a few things that seem glaringly apparent to me today.
Not so shiny:
1. OK, I’m saying it out loud. I’m too overprotective! Not scary overprotective, because I’ve seen that, but close enough, as far as my kids are concerned. I used to tease my kids that I’ll get an apartment near where they choose to go to college. Of course, I’m joking (but if you’re asking, I prefer someplace warm and near a big city). I’m sure they know I’m kidding, but then that could explain why my California boy choose a small mountain town in the Northeast. I’m also a nervous wreck (bad choice of words) every time one of them drives out the driveway, especially the youngest and newest driver. Parents living near a subway system, don’t know how good they have it.
2. Not making my kids go to sleep-away-camp (again!). Alright, we tried it once. The letters that she sent home sounded like they were coming from Guantanamo Bay. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I did both. I called the camp to see what was really going on and from that moment on, they held my daughter’s letters hostage (like the Keebler Elves in my icebox) until camp was over. Though my daughter was right about one thing: there were no ice sculptures or chefs in fancy hats in the mess hall. The photo in the camp brochure made mealtime look like the Midnight Buffet on a Princess Cruise.
3. Too involved in too many decisions and a tendency to micromanage. Helicopter parent, anyone? I know, I know, how will they learn to think for themselves? I just can’t resist the urge to fix things. Now that my college boy is four thousand miles away, I encourage him to figure things out for himself, after I, ahem, give a few tips. It’s an addiction I’m trying to kick.
1. Having breakfast with them everyday and dinner most nights during the week. I love our conversations. They’re lively, funny, and sometimes loud, but we’re sharing and connecting. Putting them ahead of our social life (isn’t that what lunch and weekend nights are for?). Soon they’ll be off to college, and my husband and I can go out as much as we please. They’re here now and we’re making the most of it (I have the gray hair to prove it).
2. Ok, this is the flipside of #2 in my parenting “not so shiny” list. Since, they didn’t like to go to sleep-away-camp, they traveled with us, and miraculously, at 17 and 20 still love to travel with us! Traveling with our kids from an early age, taught them how to sit (behave) on an airplane, in a restaurant, and left them with a deep appreciation for their experiences and a sense of adventure. Besides, my daughter figured out a way to get more shoes than is humanly possible into a carry-on bag. Now that’s something.
3. Making education, good work habits and ethics a top priority at an early age (light snack, then homework, then playtime). We learned this the hard way, when we tried playtime first, then homework, which resulted in meltdowns (mine and theirs) when it came time to hit the books. Now the house has less stress, and I don’t need a cocktail at 3:30.
Please don’t make me feel like I’m the only one! What are your shiny and not so shiny parenting moments?