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?
Great shiny/not so shiny list…I’m with you on the driving anxiety. My oldest is a year away from learning to drive and I am already stressing about it!
Christina Simon says
I love this post! We all have are shiny and not-so-shiny parenting moments. My kids haven’t gone to sleepaway camp and my daughter may never go! I also make being home at night a priority (girls night, what’s that?) and I think it makes our family more connected.
Sharon Greenthal says
Your not-so-shiny moments are pretty mildly tarnished~ and for the record, my kids didn’t love sleep-away camp, which disappointed me to no end, since I loved it!
Grown and Flown says
I am so there with you, can helicopter with the best of them! Had the same grueling experience with camp with one and another loved it, same camp, same summer, different kids. So we too kept them around a lot and I am so glad we did. There is time enough to go away in college. Lovely post.
Mary Anne F51` says
We only have one but I am guilty of much of the above. And at 17 she is a joy to travel with. Now if I could get her out of the house more-she likes us so much she’s a huge homebody….ugh
Walker Thornton says
Love your list. We also ate meals together…all the time. My sons at ages 27 and 31 are still close to me … I appreciate the work it takes to balance our our fears for their safety and our ability to let them soar. It’s hard, and yet I think one of my biggest accomplishments has been my parenting! I’d say you probably have similar feelings.
Amy Ruhlin says
Very fun read! I love how used the word “shiny” to describe parenting moments. I never sent my kids to sleep away camp either, they are also 17 and 20, and we still love to travel together.
Shannon Colleary says
Hey girl — I love this idea. I remember just after having my second child I was feeling like such a couch potato loser that I decided to pull out my journal and write down every single thing I’d done that day, including pumping breast milk, changing dirty diapers, hydrating so I could produce more milk … yes, I even counted drinking water as one of my achievements. I was shocked how long my list was when I read through it. We’ve just go to give ourselves a break once in a while. xo
Cathy Chester says
Your shiny and not so shiny moments were ones I’ve experienced as well. I have to say I’ve seen some parents not so shiny moments that make yours seem like nothing.
I think my not so shiny moment (an unstoppable fetish) was the first time I allowed my son go into the men’s bathroom by himself in a large NYC museum. He refused to come into the ladies room with me, so I had no choice. I kept thinking there’d be a kidnapper (or worse) standing by waiting for a young boy to quickly snatch away. I’d like to think other moms went through a similar situation. Did you?
Great blog, wonderful post and (I keep meaning to tell you) fantastic header for your blog.
Christina Simon says
Cannot tell you how much I LOVE this piece. You and I parent in a similar way, I might add. I’m a bit overprotective and I’m not making my daughter go back to sleep away camp ever again. My kids love to travel even more than I do (I hate it, really, but I travel for them and with them). My not so shiny moments have to do with saying the F-word too often!
Some good laughs here. I can relate to some of the shiny and not shiny moments.