This parenting gig is tough. And last week, I totally screwed up. I had a major parenting fail. Shelby saw a photo of herself on my Instagram feed and went ballistic. The photo she saw was one of her shaving her legs. She was so, so mad at me for posting the photo
Let me share a little back story: when I was texting Shelby to shave her legs, I took a photo. She protested. And I begged her to let me take it. She said, “Okay, but you can’t show anyone.” I promised and then promptly forgot about it.
Fast forward a few weeks and I posted a Project Life layout to Instagram that included that photo. I honestly forgot I’d promised her I wouldn’t post the photo. And I honestly didn’t think it was such a big deal. But to her, it was a huge betrayal. I had both broken my promise and posted an embarrassing photo of her for everyone to see.
This parenting gig is tough.
I felt horrible. I didn’t mean to hurt her. I have forgotten what it’s like to be a twelve-year-old girl and didn’t think about her feelings. But even more than that, I made her a promise (not to share the photo) and I broke that promise. Major parenting fail. Talk about feeling like the world’s biggest asshole.
This parenting gig is tough.
I deleted the post, and then Shelby and I had a major heart to heart, which started with an apology. Then, she laid out the ground rules for posting photos of her. She’s 12 now and has every right to privacy and a say in the pictures that are posted of her. Simply put, if she says no posting, I will respect that. Even if I think it’s no big deal, I have to remember that when she vetos something, then I can’t post it.
This parenting gig is tough and I’m really just trying to feel my way through it all. I need to make this my mantra: if it were me, would I be happy about (insert situation here)? And would I still be okay with it if I was 12 again? I’m sure I’ll screw up again. I’m pretty good at that. But I’m going to try not to and try to make choices that will make both my children continue to put their faith and trust in me. That’s all we can do, right?
I working on putting together a travel journal from our trip to Europe (oh yeah, Mike and I went to Turkey and Spain a few weeks ago). Most of the memory keeping I do now is all digital, but for this trip I have a physical journal/scrapbook of our adventures.
It wasn’t my plan to have a physical scrapbook, but as we prepared for our trip Mike started keeping a journal of all the important information we needed for our trip. Along the way, we started tucking receipts, tickets and brochures we picked up into the journal. And suddenly the idea of creating a travel journal was born.
In order to make this journal actually come together (remember, I don’t do a lot of physical memory keeping these days), I had to come up with some rules to help me stay on track.
1. Keep it simple. I have a habit of overthinking others like this. To get this done, I have to keep it simple. There will be no embellishments … just photos, handwritten notes and the paper ephemera we collected on our trip. (Though I will admit I’ve been using some washi tape, since who can resist washi tape?)
2. Print directly from Instagram and ignore all other photos. Mike and I took a ton of photos. Could easily get bogged down in sorting through all the photos we had. Instead of doing that, I decided to print only the photos Mike and posted to Instagram. I connected our Instagram accounts to Walgreen’s One-Hour Photo service, printed our trip photos and picked them up an hour later. Super easy.
3. Leave the journal out until it’s complete. I’ve left the journal, photos, glue/tape, a stapler and all the items I want to add to the journal sitting on our formal dining room table. When I have a few minutes, I sit down and work on it. Since I see it all the time, I feel more motivated to get it done. And I can always seem to find a few minutes to work on it, since it’s all there ready to go.
4. No pressure. Whatever I happen to get done is great. I’m not putting a lot of pressure on myself to get anything done by a certain time, nor does it have to look a certain way. Whatever I end up with is far more than I’ve ever had before … so that’s a win, right?
Bedtime is a crazy time at our house. Neither one of my kids likes to go to bed, so there is often a lot of stalling and a healthy does of drama.
To make matters worse, bedtime always seems to get away from us. Just about every night, we lose track of time and then realize that it was 9 p.m. and both kids still needed to take showers, pack their lunches, brush their teeth, etc. This just adds to the stress and drama of bedtime. It’s around bedtime that I’m completely done parenting and ready for some adult time. And when bedtime doesn’t go smoothly i feel like I’m going to explode. Plus, Mike and I we’re struggling to get some decent alone time. Without a structured bedtime routine, we didn’t have any time to do big people stuff together (like watching TV or reading).
But, Incame up with a plan. I decided to set an alarm on my phone, a reminder for when it’s time to stop what we’re doing and focus on bedtime. The alarm is set for 30 minutes before Cooper’s actual bedtime and it gives us enough time to wind down, brush teeth, read and snuggle before lights out. Shelby gets an extra 30 minutes to stay up, but she has to be in her bed and relaxing from 8:30 to 9 p.m.
At first, it was bedtime was still bumpy, but now, when the kids hear the alarm go off, they stop what they’re doing and head upstairs to start their bedtime routine.
Who knew a phone alarm could make such a difference? We have so much less drama and the adult of the house have a solid few hours of quiet, kid-free bonding time.
“Mom, you were like a teenager when they were here,” Shelby said. “Smiling and happy all the time. Seeing you so happy, that was my favorite part. I like to see you happy.”
I’ve spent a lot of time and effort constructing a life where my children are at the center of everything. My most important role has been as a mother, almost to a fault. When my friends came to town earlier this month, I took off my mom hat and became just Kimberly for a few days. I did all the things you do with your friends when they visit from out of town — shopped, ate, stayed up late, laughed, etc. — and thankfully Mike carried the weight of being both dad and mom for a few days. I had so much fun and my soul was filled with joy that only spending time with dear friends can do. My emotional gas tank was filled and I was ready to get back to being a wife and a mother.
But here’s the crazy part … when I talked to Shelby about the visit she pointed out something I hadn’t even realized: when I take time to be happy, happiness filters down to her and the rest of our family. And when I don’t take time for myself, then I’m robbing my family of the happiness that comes from a well-rested, enotionally cared for me. Throwing all of myself into being a mom and a wife is actually not what’s best for my family, despite popular belief.
This seems so counter to the current hyper-parenting movement going on, where all your time and energy is spent doing everything with and for your children. But if I take an honest look at my life, my children are always happier when I’m happiest. And they are even happy on the occasions I’m not hovering over them as long as they know I’m doing something that makes me happy (like painting, reading, working, or spending time with friends …). They don’t have to be the center of my universe to known love them. They don’t have to be the center of my universe to be healthy, happy and well-adjusted children. In fact, being the center of my universe is a lot of pressure. Maybe, just maybe if they shift to being a part of my universe and not the center, we’d all be happier?