It’s that time of year when I start to see the posts circulating on social media lamenting the loss of 1970s-era parenting. When being a good parent meant you opened the window to smoke your Virginia Slim while you talked on the phone. Kids roaming neighborhoods for all hours of the day. I know a lot of my mom friends Like these posts. In fact, I’ve liked them myself. But there’s a part of me that then closes my laptop and goes on with intent to control every aspect of my children’s lives.
It’s getting more difficult for me to keep up my game as I add more children to our tribe--we have three and hope to have more. Things fall through, I can’t stay on the ball, someone always needs something and, from what I’ve heard, as my kids get older that doesn’t necessarily get easier.
Thanks, older moms, for that encouragement.
It’s in those moments when my desire to micromanage my children strikes that I have to stop myself and analyze the root of my futile plans: I think I know what’s best. I think I can protect my children from all of the things. I think, if only I can do everything according to plan (or the most recent article I’ve read), I will produce well-rounded adults. I give myself a lot of power by controlling everything I am supposed to control: diet, screen time, friends, weather-appropriate clothing, handling social interactions, the list goes on. Not to mention all the ways that list can change depending on social setting.
So, while it is a good thing to try and get my children to eat a carrot and a good thing to usher them outdoors rather than sticking them in front of Daniel Tiger for 10 hours, ultimately, I want my kids to be able to make decisions, to get their feelings hurt, to speak for themselves, and to fail.
The fail aspect gets me at my core. I project my fear of failure on to them and want to rescue them from the experiences I have had. But, as we all know, failure is simply an opportunity to learn. If I micromanage (I like to say, microMOMage) my four-year-old folding washcloths until he does it perfectly, he won’t ever learn how to do it. It’s okay for my washcloths to not sit in perfect stacks if it means he’s learning to help our household thrive.
So, the big question I am asking myself is, What will this produce long-term? And, am I okay with that?
More often than not, the Micro-mom-ager loses. And today’s version of the Virginia Slim (the Starbucks latte), wins.
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs very infrequently at karagaris.blogspot.com.