Monday, March 16, 2009

A different kind of mom

I used to be a good mom.
My kids, my older kids, never had more than two hours a day of combined screen time (TV and computer) as per the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Even then, I allowed only commercial-free TV and educational computer games.
I scoffed at moms who regularly visited McDonald's or Burger King. Once a month was too much in my opinion. I shopped for fruit and vegetables at a local produce store and dessert was a rarity.
Forget it.
The house was clean.
The kids were in bed by 8 p.m.
My children were well-disciplined, knowing that time-outs would come swiftly--anytime, anywhere--if they misbehaved.
I was in tune with them, responding to their every whimper.
Now they have to scream.
The twins had their first McDonald's French fries before they turned a year old (They don't like the nuggets). The television is on whenever they are awake. Sometimes, I just pray that they'll actually watch it so I can have a break.
At least once a day, I pretend not to see an infraction because I don't have the energy for a time-out. I know it will come back to haunt me in the long run, but I don't think as far in advance as I used to. I just hope that I'll get through each day.
I lose my temper with the older kids quickly if they argue. On the weekends, they get far more computer time than they should. They went to bed at 9:30 last night, a school night, because my husband was sick and I had too much to do before I could get around to their bedtime routine.
I was feeling horrible about my new parenting methods as I prepared, at midnight, to finally drag myself up to bed. Then I picked up the snack dishes the older kids had left behind and I smiled.
Riley, who just celebrated his 9th birthday, had asked for spinach as part of his snack. Not a leaf was left behind. His 7-year-old sister, Kiersten, had asked for a cheese stick. Granted, they'd had two small cookies, but it never occurred to them to ask for more.
I'd had good conversations with each as I read to them and tucked them in.
They had cleaned their rooms when I asked, showered when I asked and turned the TV off when I told them to. Earlier in the evening, they had come into the nursery to give their twin brothers goodnight kisses. Jonathan and Matthew had grinned in delight at the sight of their older siblings, who share a bond not much unlike their own.
As I turned off lights, removed books from beds and shut bedroom doors, I couldn't help thinking that Riley and Kiersten have not been "ruined" by a few too many hours of television or computer time. Nor have they been destroyed by an occasional doughnut on a Wednesday morning.
And I think I know why.
The one thing that has not changed is that we all listen. We listen to each other with respect and caring and love even when we're angry or frustrated or overwhelmed or when we need to take a few minutes to ourselves first.
Maybe the rest is overrated.
Maybe there is hope for the twins.


Lexi said...

oh you must be on my wave length this week. This is exactly how I feel. However, most of the time, I think maybe I was too strict on the older too, and I am goign to have bratty toddlers because I don't get around to disciplinging the twins enough. It is draining on a mother! I would never take my older kids into a store and let them cry or scream abotu whatever they felt the need, and I swear, I don't make it to a store without crying or screaming anymore. But you are right, they are all happy and love each other, so does the rest really matter in the long run?

cat said...

Oh gosh yes, sometimes you just have to give. A little, a lot, just to survive. I am sure they will all be fine.

Twinsmom said...

Thank you Cat!
Lexi, I often think of you when I am having a bad day. I figure if you are holding up, then I can do it too. And now your husband will be deploying to Iraq! You are one hack of a mamma! Congrats on your return to the states!