CHBM's carnival topic this week is "What are your strengths and/or weaknesses as a mom?" We all know I'm the perfect mom, so there aren't any weaknesses. Right? RIGHT!
I know my parenting methods aren't unique. But they are indicitave of my deepest beliefs, of my absolutes.
And what are those?
In the Unitarian Universalist church, instead of a creed, we have a covenant, and we have the principles. We "affirm and promote," among other things, the inherent worth and dignity of each person, as well as justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
When we became parents, my husband and I found ourselves practicing our variation of attachment parenting. We were far from textbook in our approach to AP, but we captured the spirit of it. And the spirit of AP is very, very close to those UU principles. Love and respect for the unique child in front of you is the basis for AP. Not so different from inherent worth and dignity. Not so different at all.
Which is why I parent each of my children differently from the other. My daughter is not my son. My son is not my daughter. What motivates one of them leaves the other one cold. One child breastfed for 18 months, and the other breastfed for three years. Not because my beliefs about breastfeeding changed, but because that child needed to nurse longer than the other. My daughter and I reconnect by taking walks and talking, by chopping vegetables and singing along with the radio together in the kitchen. My son needs a more hands-on approach: he needs to hug, to snuggle. He needs 100% of my attention when we're together, craving interaction and affection.
I learned, too, as I went along my parenting path, that I am a very physical mother. I held my babies a lot when they were little. We shared our bed when they were little. They've "graduated" from my bed, but we still rely a great deal on touch in our family. My son, a day away from eight, still often sits on his dad's lap when we watch TV together. My daughter, almost ten, still rubs my arm the way she did as an infant. We hug a lot. We hold hands. We sit close together.
So strengths? Deal with each kid as an individual, and lots and lots of affection. Great! Done!
Because I'm not as perfect as I look.
My greatest weakness in my parenting is rooted in my strength. With all that love and affection, and dealing with the child as a person, I have a hard time ignoring the irritating stuff they do. Yes, my kids are fantastic, but they are not perfect. And I don't tune them out very well. As a result, I get exasperated more than I should.
I also yell. I don't hit, and I don't call them names, and I don't make empty threats, but I do sometimes get loud. And that doesn't make me proud, but it does make me human. This is something I've been working on reducing, and I'm doing better.
I don't follow through so well. Their rooms? Are messy. Because I haven't made them clean them. Again, I get exasperated about this and occasionally blow up and yell, but I need to help them create a routine that works for them to keep things neat.
Okay, that's probably enough. Fortunately the proof is in the pudding, and my kids definitely make me look like a fabulous mother. Thanks, kids!