There are people out there who think that when it comes to parenting, if you had one thing to do right it would be to love your children with all your heart. It sounds like a nice sentiment; after all, why is simply loving your kids a bad thing?
It isn’t, of course; it’s probably the most important thing you can do for them. There are plenty of parents in this world who should never have had kids – parents who don’t care about them, aren’t seeking their best interests, would rather be their friends instead of disciplining them to build them into good adults; the list could go on forever.
But love isn’t all we have to share with our little ones (or big ones). It’s just one thing among many, and it’s when the “many” get to be too much for us human beings that we tend to excuse ourselves with, “Well, at least I love them more than anything in the world.”
I do it myself. I make a mistake or realize I’m not not doing what I should for them and tell myself that as long as I love them, they’ll turn out ok and I’m doing what I should. But the truth is that parenting is the hardest job in the world, and if we’re not giving it our best every day, we are failing them on a colossal level.
Right now I have a summer cold, and so does my youngest. What I really want to do is just rest on the couch, neglect my daily chores and get over it. That’s a wonderful idea, except that my child also wants to just curl up with me. It’s kinda cute, actually – and very sweet. But I’m not the kind of person who is comfortable with just putting my feet up all day and doing nothing, even under a doctor’s orders. After all, who will wash the dishes and run laundry and straighten up the clutter? More importantly, who will take care of my kids if I’m just taking it easy all day?
So, I was reminded of one thing I don’t do well at all when it comes to my kids, and that’s play. Give me a hike or a boat ride or a road trip and I’m in, but when it comes to sitting down with them and playing, I would actually rather be doing those pesky dishes. Or reading them a story. And today, despite my cold, and feeling pretty blaaaahhh….I got down on the floor for a while and played with my little sick one. It didn’t take long; the poor kid would rather hop into my lap. But at least I made the effort.
It’s hard being the one always noticing things that need to be corrected in her kids – sit up straight, use your napkin, no jumping on the furniture, wipe your feet on the mat – all those nitpicky little things that drive us moms crazy – and I hate that my husband is the “fun” one. But if we’re both “fun” parents, who does the real correcting? That’s not to say that my husband doesn’t discipline them, because he does – but it’s usually because I tell him to, knowing that if he doesn’t I’m going to seriously lose my temper. He rarely even notices things that need mentioning.
So I’m ok with doing the heavy lifting on the behavior stuff most of the time, and I’m thankful that I remembered to chill out for a little bit and just play with my baby. I have no idea how much he learns from that, but he does love attention, as most children do, so I’m pretty sure he was happy!