Kate: If I could give you the answer to this, I would be a millionaire..maybe even a billionaire. I can’t tell you how many times I remind my children to “ask nicely”, “say thank you, please”, “you can try it yourself, then I’ll help” – the list goes on and on. Some moments I’m not so understanding of their dictator-like demands, I don’t even have the energy to suggest how they can ask nicely instead. I usually just respond “No, do it yourself.” – with or without a healthy dose of “oh, heck no child” in my tone.
It’s so much easier to just do it all ourselves. I mean, if we just gave our children everything then we wouldn’t deal with the meltdowns, the tantrums, the disappointment, and the trail of unfolded, clean laundry ALL over my house. BUT, then I would also be broke, wouldn’t be teaching them responsibility, and would be raising some highly entitled individuals. I’m pretty confident I couldn’t be friends with my children as adults if they were still asking me to help them tie their shoes.
So, I make my life infinitely harder by requiring my children to be responsible. They are all in charge of dressing themselves (do varying degrees of “success”) – I showed up to baseball practice with one shoe on my 3 year old yesterday. She had to stay like that until we found the shoe in the driveway when we got home. And, guess what? No one judged us! My daughter was in charge of getting her shoes and she lived with the consequence of not following through.
Liz: If I could give you a snapshot of my brain when my kids ask (not always nicely) for something it would be like a ridiculous stream of consciousness that unfolds in less than 5 seconds. Their simplest request, demands, and questions elicits this explosion in my brain of all the things I could say, all the things I want to say (but don’t) or all the things I wish I could say but wouldn’t be appropriate. Then I spend a little time chastising my brain for going “there” and ugh. It’s like I can never stop thinking about all the outcomes of this one minute that they won’t even remember 10 seconds from now.
How is it that whenever we’re at home it’s a given that they will be at their absolute worst but when we’re in public, they tend to put their best foot forward? Ok, so this isn’t always the case because…they’re kids. But in the vast majority of public situations, I’m fairly confident we’ll be just fine. Preparing for those moments can feel like torture though! I feel as though I get lost in this autopilot of correction. I often catch myself wondering if any of it even has a hope of sinking into their brains. I mean, I get bored listening to myself talk and I’m not even remotely obligated to listen to myself!
The reality is though is that our modeling, our endless repetition, and just our way of dealing with the world is under intense scrutiny. This unforgiving, exhausting slog through the mud is actually a master class that our kids are actively engaging in (even when we least expect it). This is an insanely humbling, scary, and overwhelming place to work from. These kids watch our every move, our worst days…but also our good and mediocre days. The sum total of all this observation is what’s going to matter in the long run. So I’ll keep up my endless litany, but I’ll also do my best to BE the person I most want them to become.
Kate: The pressure is unreal. I was just listening to another podcast this morning that was exploring the amount of pressure parents feel to “parent” rather than “be the parent”. By making the word parent a verb, it takes on a whole new connotation. When it’s the noun, being a parent is simply the relationship you have with your child, when you are “parenting” it takes on a weight of shaping these children into good adult humans. Does that make sense?
So, I’m going to try to focus on just being their parent (the relationship) and less on “parenting” and see where that takes me. I’m hopeful that I will be refreshed by how nice it is to just have a relationship with them, without the full weight of agonizing about bad decisions I make as a parent. Because, my overriding priority is that I am a good person who is trying the best she can. That’s all I ask of myself, and all I should be asking of my kids.
Liz: Without a doubt we put way too much pressure on ourselves and what the future MAY hold. We can’t control it, so the best we can do is our best with what we have right now (which Kate says all the time). I actively have to remind myself of this, every day…every hour or so even. The best we can do is give our kids the skills they need to evaluate the world and make responsible and empowering choices down the road. Sometimes, the best way to do this is to just live life, find joy and strive to be more conscious of the world around us and how our choices ripple out. Just be….in the moment, in the room, in their hearts and hopefully in their heads as a voice of reason someday.