Friday, May 29, 2015

The Best of Intentions

Parenting is hard.  Sometimes I wish that our kids' life success (in the broader sense) was based on our intentions, rather than what we actually do every day.  Can you imagine what an amazing, functional society we might have if we as parents could really do all of the things we'd like to do for our kids?  I'm not necessarily talking about material possessions or exceptional experiences, though in some cases those things would probably have an impact as well.  I'm just talking about something as simple as having more time and energy to sit and play or to just have an uninterrupted, earnest conversation. 

But life gets in the way, of course.  We spend all day working to make money to keep our kids housed and fed and cared for, to give them some things to call their own, and to provide them with experiences they'll take with them forever.  But if our sincere intention is to be able to spend more time with them, wouldn't it be nice if they just felt that love even when the time isn't there? 

I know I'm often guilty of using my limited time with the kids to get other things done, when I should be hanging out with them.  But after dinner the dishes beg to be cleaned up, and if I don't do it then, motivating myself to do it later seems like a gargantuan task.  I know that I should use Carter's naptime on weekends to hang out with Jacob and do things specifically with him, but getting things done is a huge sanity thing for me, as well, and if those things are nagging on me, I probably won't be a great mom anyway.  Sometimes he just happens to take that time and keep himself occupied, too, which is a great skill that I don't want to detract from.  But sometimes I'm simply too tired to, for example, spend a couple hours outside with him, knowing that when Carter wakes up he'll probably want to do the same thing.  So, we rest on our laurels and everything just ends up sub-par.  I feel terribly about it a lot of the time, but reality just gets in the way.  If only my intentions counted for something.

I'd love to involve the kids in more outings and events to expose them to different things.  I'd love to take them on more trips, even short ones, and do more fun activities as a family locally.  But between money, crazy schedules, and my simple fear of having to wrangle two crazy kids in the midst of what might be something already chaotic enough, it rarely happens.  In a couple weeks, there is a 5K and walk for charity that I really want to participate in.  I did it last year in honor of my friend's son who survived leukemia, and I'd really like to do it again.  Only, Jacob has baseball that morning, Craig might be on the road, and I sort of swore last year that I didn't want to bring kids again because dragging a stroller around or wrangling kids among the masses just isn't really a good time.  So as of now I'm not doing it.  I want to involve them in charity things, but sometimes the struggle outweighs the good it might do.  Heck, even giving away things to charity is a bit of a sore spot.  I mean, right now, Jacob mostly gives everything to Carter, and someday it will be Carter's unfortunate job to make the call on what's OK to be donated.  I never liked doing that as a kid, so I can only imagine the torture that lies ahead on that front.  I guess on one hand I'm grateful it will be Carter, because I can see Jacob being a lot more difficult with a task like that.  At the same time, I feel like Jacob is the one that most needs the experience of thinking of others and doing good deeds.  He's very selfish and self-centered a lot of the time and I know he needs more opportunities to exercise the "giving" side of him.  But I worry about the backlash and the complaining, so it slides down the list.  But gosh, if intentions counted for anything, he'd be in great shape.

I'd like to feed my kids good, wholesome food.  Sometimes I am successful, and sometimes I am not.  Gluten-free food is expensive as it is, let alone adding in anything organic.  And, of course, getting my kids to eat vegetables is a serious challenge, and sometimes it's not worth the battle.  Sometimes processed food is the one thing they'll eat to keep the meat on their skinny little bodies.  But oh, if intentions counted for anything, they'd be at the peak of health.  Well, maybe.  I still think there's a value to sticking a couple cookies in Jacob's lunch every day.  Life is too short not to eat cookies...especially when you can't eat so many other things!

I'd really like to be a less shouty mom.  Most of the time it seems my kids do not listen unless I shout, and half the time they're being so loud that I have to shout.  As a result, I usually feel like I don't have a choice BUT to be a shouty mom, but in reality it's really not pleasant for anyone.  They don't want to listen to me yelling, I don't like to hear myself yelling, and my throat definitely does not like me yelling.  And yet...despite my best intentions, I yell.  A lot.  But oh, how I wish I could maintain the volume level of (controversy aside) Michelle Duggar, who remains calm and downright sweet when disciplining her kids.  The real-life mom in me wants to think she's crazy for being able to stay so calm, but I still wish I could do it. 

Ultimately I'd like to look put-together and in-control with my kids, but maintain a loving attitude.  I want to have and live out a genuine desire to spend time with them, but still maintain a certain level of productivity.  I want to give them the best life possible, but not bankrupt us to do it.  A tricky balance, this parenting thing.  If only intentions equaled reality...if only I was Superwoman...if only life didn't get in the way of LIFE.  Maybe someday I'll figure some of this out, but in the meantime I guess I can't stop trying...

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