Today my son, my baby, started kindergarten. I am now officially the mother of two school-aged kids.
At times like this, I inevitably daydream about having more babies. But, since that’s not going to happen, I shifted my mind to what I might do differently with a new baby.
My answer to myself is, “nothing.” Want to know what I’d do all over again?
Know What I Want: My child-rearing strategy started before they were even conceived…back when Greg and I were dating and he asked me to move in with him. My response was something along the lines, “If we live together I want to be engaged, and if we are getting married, I want to have children, and if we have children, I want to be a stay-at-home mom.” It happened just like that, and we’ve been raising our children with traditional values for 8 years.
Sacrifice for my kids: Living on one income was harder for me than I expected, so use was I to eating out, taking great vacations, driving a nice car and shopping when I pleased. But I am glad we did it, because I am totally full of special memories with my babies…not just every single milestone, but all of the precious, unexpected moments of ordinary days. I have no regrets there.
Build a support system: Before Mallory was born, I spent the best $20 ever on an annual membership with the Parent Connection. Three months after I became a mom this non profit program of Scripps Memorial Hospital connected me with Rachel’s mom, and we created the East County 2005 babies Playgroup. Our little group grew along with our kids from picnic blanket play dates in the park to first birthday parties, to baby-number-two showers to first day of school to today — 8 years later. I would never have another baby without connecting with a support system like the Parent Connection or MOPS or Mom’s Club or mommy meetups. You can find a group that best suits your parenting style; there are working mom groups, baby-wearing groups, cloth diapering, bilingual…you name it. That kind of support and friendship is invaluable.
Trust Myself: The way I have raised my children to this point is “controversial” to many. I bottle fed, spanked when necessary, let them watch TV, and occasionally fed them fast food, sugary snacks and gluten-laden foods. I have raised them the way I was raised because I like the way I turned out. And, so far, I like the way my kids have turned out too. The feedback I get from teachers, neighbors, friends and family is that my children are healthy, strong, smart and kind. I trust my instincts and do what seems right for our family. So far, so good.
Treasure my family: I didn’t have my daughter until I was nearly 36. Up until that point I wasn’t sure I was going to be a mom. 2 weeks after I married Greg I was pregnant, and I have never stopped thanking him for giving me the greatest gift on earth…our family. We have difficult days, that’s for sure, but, I always try to remember how fortunate I am to have this wonderful family. They are the meaning of life to me.
Relax!: This one took a bit of time to grasp. Yes, I was embarrassed when my daughter was 3 and still not potty trained. And I wish my son was out of night time pull ups. Even though I have two smart and really good kids, there were just some things I could not get them to do according to the books and pediatrician’s schedule. Once I realized that I could not control every single behavior of these two actual human beings with their own personalities, life felt better and I got back to enjoying them.
Stay Involved, but don’t over-do it: Now that the kids are in school I will volunteer in the classroom, run the school sock hop and I even coordinated this morning’s kindergarten coffee. But I have also gone back to work part-time and plan to do more for myself than I’ve been able to do in the past 8 years. I will always be as involved as needed, but I am ready for them to become more independent from me. (sniff, sniff) Wish me luck!