I have a master's degree in - let's face it - kids. Raising them well long-term is what I'm passionate about. Looking at what we're trying to accomplish 18 years from now, and moving in that direction is something that I love to do. For my kids, for other people's kids. I think about it... a lot. And all of you who know me know that I talk about it... a lot. My mantra is always "Who are you doing this for? You or your child?" If the answer is you, then we should probably evaluate how effective it is. Chances are, it's not very.
For example -
- Mom in line at the DMV with a whiney kid. Hands him some cheerios. Kid quiets down while he eats half his cheerios and drops the other half on the floor. Who is that for?
- Kids ask dad 900 times in the grocery store for some Gushers. Dad says no 899 times, and time 900, he says "Oh all right, fine! But I better not hear another word out of you until we get home." Who's that for?
- We're sleep training, and kiddo gets up over and over and over again, and at 3am mom finally gets up with him and lays down in his bed with him just to make him be still. Who is that for?
But some days...
Some days it doesn't matter whether you have a degree in child development or paper hat making. Some days you just want to rock your 1 year old (who is perfectly capable of going to bed alone) to sleep... not because she needs you to, but because she's freaking adorable and cuddly and you've had a rough day.
Some days you throw cheerios over your shoulder into the backseat when you're stopped at a red light, hoping one of them lands in an open mouth, just to make the noise stop. Because let's be honest, an over-cheerio'd kid is better than a kid with a sock shoved in her mouth.
Some days I'm not able to think long term. Lie. Some days I'm able to think long term and I just don't have the emotional space left.
Some days the Lord gives me much more sympathy for the sweet lady in the DMV line who just feels bad for the rest of us listening to her kid whine about missing Spongebob. It's these days when the Lord reminds me of why he meets me where I am, and why he's asked me to do the same for the people around me. Even on our best days, we don't live up. We will never get it completely right. But that's okay. It's been handled.
Some days we get to show our kids (inadvertently, but who's counting?) that we're not perfect. We fail. We cave. We need forgiveness from our savior and want it from them. Maybe that's more important than raising perfectly self-reliant kids after all.