Last week was Mother’s day. With it came the countless posts about how important it is to treasure your children. These posts spend so much time telling me all about the regrets I will have about missing this time with my children. There were many great posts about why each moment with our children will be missed. In some of these there is the constant implication that we should be making every memory possible with our children. I think that there is danger in treasure it. While it seems like a healthy encouragement to moms it can actually be a big problem.
Danger in Treasure it
Older moms look back on their child’s younger stages with longing. There is love and there is regret missing those moments. I don’t want to disrespect older moms with this post but I wish there would be less of these admonitions covering my Facebook feed and every engagement. I think there are few things that these well meaning statements can cause some serious hurt and insecurity in moms. Here are a few of the things I think it can cause.
“Don’t miss a moment. It goes too fast.”
This can really be bad for a mom who is trying to do her best. I didn’t have a very involved mom because I was the child of a single mom. I didn’t have the framework for the right way to parent my children. When they were younger I tried to be involved in every moment. I wanted to see every milestone. I had to be part of everything they ever did. I couldn’t bring myself to leave them. This well meaning admonition left me absolutely worn out. I didn’t make time for me and I didn’t give them room for independence.
Instead, I should have stepped back and given more freedom to my children. I should have let go of this need to be there every minute and let them grow up knowing independence. As they got older I learned this lesson. Now they have a great deal more freedom. If you are feeling trapped by the statement above, please take this as your moment of freedom. Instead of trying to be a part of every moment, try and make memories out of the great moments.
I wish moms said:
“Make memories out of the moments. Not every moment will be amazing but there will be some great ones. Take time to make memories out of these.”
This will free you up to live your life. Sometimes kids need to play independently while you do dishes, work on a project, or talk to a friend for a few minutes. This is completely healthy for both of you. Parenting is about balance. If you don’t balance your self care with time with your children you will be overwhelmed and burnt out.
“Don’t stress the messes. You are making memories.”
Yes, you are making memories. I am not saying it’s wrong to spend time making memories but be realistic. Do you want your child to have a memory of a messy home? Do you want them to grow up without the ability to clean up after themselves? This one always drove me crazy. There are some messes that are expected with raising little ones. You will have peanut butter finger prints. There will be crayon on the walls at times. You may go to bed some nights with a sink full of dishes because of things going on. However, this doesn’t have to be the standard in order to make all the memories possible.
It is completely ok to have your children help you clean. It’s healthy even. If you want to make memories out of the moment, turn on music you can all enjoy and clean together.
I have spoken to many moms who have cooked dinner or washed dishes and felt guilty because they weren’t out playing with their kids. You don’t have to feel this guilt. Your children will survive you cleaning. They will learn that there are priorities in your life and that while you love them, you care enough to teach them responsibility.
I wish moms said:
“Get your kids cleaning with you. They will thank you when they are older.”
If you really want to give advice, please give helpful advice. We are doing our best here.
“Aw, just let them have the treat.”
This one usually comes in the store or from a well meaning grandparent in the middle of a parenting struggle. Often the advice is that we ignore the behavior in front of us and give the child what they want. There are times for treats. There are times to back down and show grace. However, there are times when as a parent consistency and discipline are the priority. While I know you wish you could give your now grown child one more cookie, please remember that we are working hard to raise our children to be respectful adults. Sometimes that means we say no to cookies or treats.
When comments like this happen it can also give our child a reason to think that instead of disciplining them, we are after them with unfair and malicious intent.
I wish moms said:
Nothing… but if you must say something, “You are doing good mom. They will thank you one day.”
This parenting stuff is hard. It’s exhausting and pushes every limit. We spend every day asking whether we are making the right choices. Instead of reprimanding, use this time to encourage moms. We will appreciate the small extra wind in our sails.
Which phrase are you overwhelmed by from well meaning older moms?
What do you wish they said instead?