I’m probably more strict than most people would realize— but I also try to find more excuses to cuddle with my kid than most would think too. We absolutely have a life full of color and fun— but with rules, a fairly good amount of them. I mean, I’ll assume that any parent reading this post has a list of rules that needs to be followed in their home— but we/me/we are pretty strict about them around here. I like her to know what is and is not okay, at all times. And how sometimes there are grey areas— where she should (absolutely) ask what is right and okay if she’s unsure.
She’s a good kid. A really good kid. I’m lucky. She’s also a really smart kid, and likes to use words like “actually” and otherwise”— correctly and as often as she can. And it makes me laugh each time “Actually mama, thats not a counter, thats a table” and “no mama, I can’t go live with Halle, otherwise you won’t have a kid anymore“— she was right, both times. And right every single time. So here I am, with not only a really good kid and a really smart kid— but also, a very stubborn kid. I have no one to blame but Alex and myself, for we are two very incredibly stubborn people, so neither one of us were surprised to find how stubborn she can be.
I’ll tell you, I haven’t felt great as a mom lately. I mean, I know I’m a good mom, I don’t need reassurance on that, but I know that recently the amount of — for lack of a better word— attention she receives is slacking. I don’t worry that she feels unloved, I know she feels loved, but it does break my heart a bit to know I once gave her more— and she still deserves more. I know this time is temporary, the extra busy crunch time will pass, but more and more each day, I’m looking forward to more time for bigger adventures and smaller moments with her. Her listening has declined a bit and some of the rule following too— and I know whose fault it is.
Part of me doesn’t mind that I raised her without Alex for two years. Part of me is almost grateful for it, now. I’m glad I’ve built that bond with her— it’s really hard to explain exactly what it is to someone who’s never been a single mom, but it sets a different tone when its you and no one else, one on one with a kid day after day. It can be as good or as bad as you make it. Our time was good. Our bond is good. Our relationship is good. I talk, she listens— usually.
I treat her how I believe she should be treated— as a smart, responsible, and very capable three year old. She’s in charge of cleaning her room, her table, and her mess, each and every day. She puts on her own pjs and she brushes her own teeth. She puts away her dishes, when I ask. And sometimes even offers to wash them. My friends joke, but hell, this girl could probably hold a job. I hear parents say that they don’t have time to clean because they’d rather spend time with their kids, but I don’t think these two things have to exclusive. I believe you can do both, together. We spend our time playing together and cleaning up together. I believe if she can make the mess, then she can clean the mess. And if we make the mess, then we can clean it. And of course, we can help each other out.
I think we underestimate ourselves and our children often. They’re small, tiny, and learning, but they’re very capable. And they should be treated this way. I understand that she’s small and things will be too tall or too heavy. I understand that the knowledge I’ve gained in this world, she has yet to learn, and she will need help learning as well as understanding. But I also know that if given the opportunity to try something new and have more responsibility, she will often times take it— and grow from it. She understands, I will never underestimate her. Will there be limitations? Sure, but doesn’t mean she can’t try. From little things like putting away a dish to big goals and future dreams, I believe in her and all that she is capable of.
So here we are, approaching four years old, and we’ve started “time outs”— sort of again. I shouldn’t really say “for the first time” because she’s had maybe three before, but its never, not ever been a regular thing. And I doubt it will be now (fingers crossed). Rules are in place and she listens. If she strays away from them (intentional or not), we talk it out and move forward. I explain why the rule is in place and the good that comes from following it and the repercussions that can come from not. We’ve gotten through the “terrible two’s” or “terrible threes”— like this, pretty easily. She knows that I have a job, daddy has a job, and I will remind her as often as I need to, that she has a job— and it’s an important one too. Her job is to always “be a nice person, be good person, be happy and have fun.” Realistically, that all our jobs—- but at three, it’s her only job.
With my own deadlines approaching, with my unsureness and self doubt creeping in and out, it’s been a hard month. No, not hard– not hard at all, but at times slightly stressful and more pressured. The time I once I gave myself to check out, those moments are less fun. And I fear she feels it. I’m putting my best effort to check back into her time and out of my own head. Whether I’m teaching her something new or not, she learns from our time together. I want her to know that responsibility of kindness and listening are important. That there are rules in place that will be crucial. But I also want her to know that this doesn’t keep her from happiness, growing, and exploring—- that creativity is everywhere. She can be capable, responsible, follow rules, and know that sometimes it is okay to paint the floors. I showed her how to do it.
ps. that middle photo was taken by hannah, the south florida photographer I mentioned the other day. She’s been over to take cooking photos, home tour photos, and captured a few random gems here and there. I can’t wait to show you guys more of them 🙂