I was the perfect parent...
Until I had kids.
I remember. I remember watching kids in the store. You know the ones. The ones throwing themselves on the floor in a temper tantrum. And in my head, that perfect parent voice said, "I am SO glad that my children will not act like that..."
Until I had kids. And I learned that sometimes kids have meltdowns...often they have meltdowns...and I have no control over when or where they happen. All I can control is how I react to them. Usually with a red face, wanting to sink into the ground, as I grit my teeth and mutter chastising words under my breath (that mean nothing when a child is in that state).
I remember seeing kids come to school without a jacket or a backpack or having empty lunch accounts. And I wondered, "How could those parents let that happen?"
Until I had kids. Sometimes you have all of their things laid out for them and they still walk out of the house without any of it. Or your daughter may just decide she doesn't think it is the slightest bit cold outside, so she ignores your commands to take her jacket. Or she leaves her backpack (and all of her homework) in her daddy's car. Or he doesn't turn in a newsletter that you signed and specifically said, "Turn this in tomorrow" as his head bobbed up and down like a bobblehead.
I remember cringing when I heard parents barking orders at their older children to help with the younger children. I remember thinking, "I will NOT do that."
And I will say, most of the time I don't...totally. I try not to bark. And I am thankful for kids who are more than willing to help. But sometimes I do have to ask for help. Sometimes. Because sometimes I cannot be in more than one place at one time. Usually.
I remember using "Fashion Plates" to draw pictures of myself as a mom. Remember those things? I really liked playing with them. I would create myself this thin, cute little tennis player with my hair in a ponytail.
Then I had kids. Who am I kidding? I wasn't thin before I had kids. Nor really that cute. And who has time to mess with long hair?
I watched children make really poor choices at school. And I would think, "I bet this kid runs their house...where is the parent?"
Then I had kids. Sometimes you give all of the tools, all of the lessons about life and making good choices. And sometimes they don't. And they aren't running our house. We keep a fairly tight rein over here. But they are still their own people, in charge of their own decisions. I have said before, here I am with a perfect God, and I sometimes make really poor decisions. Why do I think my children with imperfect parents are going to make better ones?
I was the perfect parent. I read lots of books. I studied child development. I know the "right things" to do. I keep up on the latest research. We started reading to Hunter in utero. He was going to be this genius. All of our kids would...
Then I had kids. And they are all smart...in their own way. Hunter was slow to talk, even after all of the talking we did with him. (I know, you would NEVER know that now) While at least two have become wonderful readers (who truly love reading), none have been early readers by any means. We give them all of these tools and resources and experiences, but honestly...they develop at their own rate.
I just knew that once I had kids, I would have it all "together". We would have this organized house. The kids' friends would hang out at our house because I would be the "cool" mom.
Then I had kids. Let's be honest. I wasn't cool before I was a mom. Not sure why I thought being a mom would suddenly make me "cooler". Or whatever the proper word is these days. Organized? Hmmm...I don't think I ever thought about exactly how much stuff six people could have to keep up with! Right now my dining room is filled with clothes I need to organize as we switch out the seasons. And I do want to be the house where kids hang out, but right now, I am doing good to keep our family and the house up, much less add many people to the mix.
I was the perfect parent. In my mind, I was. I talked in a quiet voice. I handled discipline appropriately every time. I knew exactly what to do in any situation, sharing the wisdom I have gathered in life. I laughed easily. I gave "Rudy" kind of speeches to encourage them in becoming all they can be.
Then I had children. Nobody told me. I didn't know about Mommy guilt. And that this would be the hardest job I would ever do. That some days I would raise my voice and say all of the wrong things. That often I feel absolutely UNWISE, totally unsure how to handle situations that arise. That some days I would go to bed (most days) feeling like a complete failure. That I would look at these faces and wonder why God thought I was the one for the job.
I was the perfect parent once upon a time.
Then I had kids.