Children change us.
Like most of my column leads, this one is small but powerful. Three simple words with such profound meaning. The last seven months I guess I’ve paid attention more than I once did. This thought struck me most recently as a friend shared their admiration for my strength in a tough situation.
We begin anticipating the ‘change’ which comes with parenting well before they’re born. We know life will look different. Sporadic plans or pack up and go trips won’t be as easy as the pre-K (before kid) years. We tell ourselves sleep will be less, worry will be more and stress will increase. Simply put, life changes and we embrace it. We prepare for this.
The other ‘change’ which happens, I was personally not prepared for.
The change I speak of is multi-fold. There is the Mama Bear, the Helicopter mom and the most recent discovered Selfless Mom. Ironically, I met all three of these women before. It’s been several years since I had seen them, but as I began to embody each of them I recalled our first meeting; it came through a woman I know as Mom.
Mama Bear is of course the one which I try and control the most. She rears her ugly head most during park outings or while watching my children wait patiently in line. Little people are no different than big people, there are just as many pushy, eager and ‘me’ first types (but they’re still learning). I’ve slowly become better at this, realizing that my children must learn as we all did. ‘Mommy’ cannot always speak up and intervene and the more I do the more it actually hurts them. These after all are life lessons. Society/little people do not change, they just grow bigger.
Now with that said, when and if I feel there is an injustice which goes unaddressed (i.e.: at school in the way of education), then I am sure to speak up. I am and will always be the number one advocate for my children. It’s my job and I take it quite seriously.
Helicopter Mom sort of rides on the back of Mama Bear. I like to think of her as a happy medium between sanity and obsessive behavior. Yes, a crazy notion perhaps but I know there are plenty of readers nodding their heads as they read that sentence.
I still recall a friend openly sharing how he sat parked in his car outside of the ‘big’ playground when his son started first grade. He was worried for him, but in time realized the playground was not the problem, he was. Simply put ... parenting is a humbling journey. As my children grow older I am learning to release the Helicopter mom bit by bit. Kids are resilient. I know this because I was one and while mom may have desired the job as Helicopter Mom it was just not possible. She worked full-time and like many was a commuter. We had dinner, homework, bath time and repeat. I learned, not because my mom hovered but because she knew she had equipped me with the strength to journey through.
All of this ultimately leads us to Selfless Mom. This is where we learn what we are really made out of and honestly ... it’s just not easy.
In the past seven months I have had to step aside a number of times in the vein of what is best for my duo. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Fun? Hardly. Necessary? Undeniably yes.
Truth of the matter is this; I have come to learn that our emotional selves can often cloud the wisdom of our rational selves. Yes, that sounds like shrink talk but I honestly came to that on my own.
Think about it simply. Much of our emotional self is fueled by pride and what we ‘feel’ to be the best thing. Our emotional self is typically fueled by our passion. Be it a passion for a sport, a cause or our children - passion and emotion go hand in hand.
Our rational self is what we find when we are brave enough to disconnect the emotion just long enough to think clearly. Yes, that’s correct; thinking clearly while emotional rarely happens. Once we truly silence our heart, our passion … Disconnect ourselves a bit (if you will) ... it is then and only then that we can make truly rational decisions.
This is what my children have taught me. It’s odd, but completely true. The moments which I have had to make the toughest decisions for the love of my children are those moments. The ones where I must silence the passionate, emotional me and just be rational.
Admittedly, there’s nothing easy about it. I’m a debater. I like to be heard and make my point. However when the argument is happening in your own head sometimes, often times, what is best is to sit quiet and let the rational seep through.
With my children still young, it is hard to know if being ‘Mom’ can be likened to Sybil. How many ‘Moms’ could there possibly be? Experience and life leads me to believe we cap off with the three, but one never truly knows.
What I am certain of is that whether they are three or 12 faces they will ultimately be fine. How I know this is simple, because as varied as the denominator may be to my own childhood there is one common thread … Love.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.