I have been told on occasion that I should write a book about being a Mom. It is flattering that other people see me as a great Mom. But like any other Mom, I have doubts about my mom strengths and capabilities.
I say this because any mom worth her salt will doubt herself from time to time. Maybe it is a female thing, but it still serves to make you a better mom, it forces us to take a time out, step back and re-evaluate the way we just mom handled a particular situation. Even If you have more than one kid it means you are not a pro by the time you hit kid number three comes along. The reason for your non-pro-ness is because each child is totally different, and if you are lucky like me your last kid might be a bit of an anomaly just to throw a wrench in the works.
I have decided to add a bit of the “Mom” in Me to my Blog with little bits of wit or wisdom or maybe it is just a bit of what-have you. Either way I will share it with you, I hope you will share some back and we will get to know each other better in the process. Moms are very complex, and we have many layers of greatness. I even have the honor of holding the coveted nick-name of “Mystery!” It was a blend of my name Miss Terre, but then the twist was added when my hubby could never figure me out! I am sure I am not the lone ranger here and most men have trouble understanding all women in general. But being diverse makes us great Moms too. I can be everything to everyone that way. We are givers, nurturers and so much more.
We are so complex it is hard to pin point a certain area that makes one a great Mom. So I had a hard time deciding where to start. But, I realized I just gave myself the starting point when I began, diversity! I think our complete complex mom diversity is a good place to start. I like to make sure my children have all the tools they need to be successful when they grow up. We don’t know what they are going to grow up to be though, so given them a great diverse set of tools to head out into the big world with is really important.
One way to do that is to expose them to plenty of activities and information and at that moment of exposure use that opportunity to explain it to them. I realize that may sound to general for everyone to grasp, so let me give you a few examples:
We moved around quite a lot when my first two children’s father was in the military but no matter where we were in the world I always found a church that they could go to. Typically the first time we went to a new church was during vacation Bible school. (We usually moved during the summer months so we didn’t interrupt the kid’s school year.) Vacation Bible school is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn good information. But the key here is to discuss that information with your children so they can grasp either meaning, importance or life skills from it. Kids don’t usually go into detail either so sometimes you have to pry it out of them. When you pick them up after vacation Bible school you may ask them how was your day, or what did you do and they will say it was fine or that they played. This does not give you much information to go on. I usually say well I am sure you did something tell me what was your favorite part. Then they may open up and tell you a couple of things. Or you might want to wait until you sit down together for dinner and bring up the subject again. Possibly they will have some artwork or craft item you could use as an ice breaker. Maybe they have paint all over their shirt and you can get a clue about their day from that.Eventually they will tell you what they did and then you can discuss how that art project or whatever applies to life.
If a bully picked on them at school you can ask about that and help them understand how they can handle it better next time. A few times my kids came and told me that so and so called them a name and I asked if they were a whatever the name was and they will promptly say no, and then you tell them if you are not a whatever the name is then it should not bother you. You know in your heart you are (fill in the blank here with wonderful positive attributes about your child) smart, beautiful, strong and talented person so when someone calls you a name try to remember who you are and not what someone else calls you. Then explain to them that when someone calls you a name it is typically because of what they lack. They are jealous of something about you and their only defense is to try and bring you down to their sad a pitiful level.
Bully problems are complex but you have to arm you child with tools to combat them. They need to know that the bully does not win unless you let them. Being self-confident will defeat and repel bullies from the start. Bullies like the weak not the strong. If they say someone said something that hurt their feelings and they didn’t know what to say give them a few ideas. Nothing knocks a hurtful set of words out of the park like a quick and smart comeback. Next time they will be loaded and walking tall.
Here is another situation that I will share with you and only because it provided a great learning experience for my children. When I was married to my first husband his aunt came to stay with us for about 6 VERY LONG months. No one could care for her and they needed a break I am sure. His aunt B was about 36 at the time and I was 29ish. When I first met her I was in junior high and I thought she was so beautiful and cool she was smart and had all the boys chasing her. Then she got into drugs, bad. One night while out partying with her druggie friends they flipped a car a few times and two others dead and she was injured badly. She still did drugs after that and got lost in a cult somewhere out in California for a while and after that she was never the same. I think there was crazy running in her family genes but those drugs and tragedies brought it out in her. She had 5 kids one died and the rest were taken away. She was all kinds of psycho and mental. She was diabetic, over weight and acted like a two year old that never learned.
I had to put a padlock on my fridge and cupboards because she would eat her weight in sugar and carbs until she would be close to diabetic coma. I had to make her take her meds and enforce the amount of food she ate. You know those people that can eat and eat and never feel full well that was her. It was so stressful.
One day at the breakfast table she asked if we can have ske-tie (spaghetti) for dinner and I thought how sad this woman is just a crazy child now and she is forty years old. Look what drugs have done to her. At that moment I realized this was my best defense. I could use her to show my kids this is your brain on drugs. So I asked Aunt B you liked partying when you were young didn’t ya? She said yes of course and her eyes glazed over as if she was remembering a wonderful high. I made sure my kids were paying attention and asked her to tell my kids all of the different drugs she has had and she did so with excitement. My kids looked at her with disgust and shock. They were both in middle school at the time. I looked at them and then told them see what drugs do to you, this IS your brain on drugs. She never thought she would end up like this and now look at her. Aunt B provided all of the different types of drug names that she had tried and I went into a bit more detail of what they were, their effects and other names they might be called. This is an opportunity and I did not miss it.
I didn't make it a big long 45 minute lecture but they got my point. If you don’t have an Aunt B handy (and I hope you don’t,) then you can find a drug learning moment just about everywhere, maybe when you see someone in town, or when you flip through the channels on TV. I used those opportunities too. You don’t have to have a lecture but you should have a conversation. By the time your child is in high school or where ever their first drug encounter occurs they will have all the right information to make the right choice. It is almost like the bully thing in this case as well because the more self-confidence and information they have to handle the situation the easier it will be. With that comes the more likelihood they will make choices in friends and situations that will never put them in the position to have to turn down some peer pressure to take drugs.
I try to discuss as much as I can with my kids so they have a greater understanding of what is out there and have the tools to handle just about any situation. Now you have to be the one to determine what you kids are able to handle and understand. You can discuss drugs with a four year old just as well as a 14 year old, but it is how you do it. My four year old already asked me what drugs where and I had to explain to him that it was like a bad medicine that some dumb people take because they were not smart enough to say no. I told him that the dumb people believed their friends when they lied to them and told them it was fun and would make them feel good. Now we will get a chance to discuss this further throughout the years as he grows. For now he knows not to take something from someone even if they say it is good.
I think the key to remember here is constant communication. You have to discuss drugs and all of the important stuff BEFORE they are a teen. Chances are good that when your child becomes a teen and their hormones are raging they will start to block you out and your communication lines will be shortened for a while. If they already understand what to expect and the consequences from some actions they will be more likely to make a good choice all on their own without you.
Another example that you can apply to your life is to expose them to some really good and positive activities. These experiences build confidence and that is their greatest defense against the evils in this ugly world. I take my kids to story time, to the pottery class, hiking, visiting natural wonders like the Arches in Utah or Mesa Verde. I check the chamber of commerce, the public library and the local papers regularly for other free activities they can join in on. Being involved in a sport also will help them build confidence also. If they are not doing well in whatever activity that is OK finish it out and keep trying. Talk to them about finishing it out, and doing their best. Even if they don’t win they will have a good feeling of accomplishment at the end when they give it all they got.
When I was in high school I was on the girls’ basketball team and we lived in a small town. It was so small that we had five players for our team, just enough to play. I was the tallest and the smallest girl was barely over 5 feet. The other girls we played with regularly fouled out and it would anger me so, and once everyone fouled out except for me and the smallest girl. We ran our tails off and I was never so tired in my life. We could have quit and forfeit but we kept playing. We gave it our all. We lost but only by about a few baskets which was amazing. I was dead dog tired but I gained so much confidence that day. Give your kids the same feeling, give them the opportunity to fail, work hard, succeed, know themselves, earn respect, gain confidence and much more. Your job is to discuss all of these occasions with them to insure they understand so that the right is their guide through and not the wrong.
Your moments will be different because of our diversity, but they should all end the same; you having a conversation with your child. Even small moments when you see another child being disrespectful to their parents you can discuss and talk about what was wrong with that picture and what you expect from your child. The key is share all your info you have built up with them help build them up with self-respect, morals and knowing their role for a better and happy life.