How I became a Good Mom
I promise - I have flaws
Over the last 15 years or so I have been touted as being the ‘perfect’ Mom by children who are disappointed in their own mothers. Though this is VERY flattering it is far from the truth. I am in no way shape or form perfect. I have my flaws.
It took me 3 kids to realize that babies need more than milk to keep them full. I learned this on the 3rd one. For the first two I was fairly young, 20 then 23 and tired a lot. My philosophy was give the baby a bottle and go back to bed. When the oldest made a mess I would clean it up later. The diaper package said it would hold 22 - 30 pounds (of pee right?).
Truly I made more work for myself than was actually necessary, but it took me a long time to realize it. If I would have just ‘did it’ at the time it needed doing (whatever ‘it’ was) then I wouldn’t have to do twice as much later. For example; If I fed the baby cereal before bedtime he wouldn’t get up 4 times a night for a bottle and I wouldn’t have to wash the sheets daily. I wasn’t exactly what you would call a quick learner in those days.
The one you practice on
Bless my oldest son, he was the one I practiced being a parent on. He got the worst of my experience. There are many things he could hold against me, yet he doesn’t. Because he was the oldest, everything that happened with him, happened for the first time. I was raised spare the rod, spoil the child. That means he got the most spankings.
When he was in the 1st grade his teacher and I had an agreement, if she sent home a ‘happy face’ he did good. If it was a ‘sad face’ he did bad. Bad, to my understanding meant he was being mean to other kids, misbehaving and so on, it was what we had agreed upon. For one solid month he spent the afternoons in his room, because he had brought home ‘sad faces’. I asked him one day why he got a sad face, just to see if he knew. He said it was for not getting his spelling words right.
Of course I called the teacher, she agreed, his sad faces were for not doing well in academics. Yes, I was very angry. Here I had been punishing my child for not being able to do school work. I learned a lesson from this, don’t always believe what you think you see or hear, and bless the teachers for taking the time to teach, but they are not always right. My son was later diagnosed with a learning disability. The guilt I carry around with me over this is very heavy.
He still loves me to this day!
I was pregnant with my 3rd child at this time and I was miserable. We were living in one of the hottest parts of the Country, southern Florida and it was nearing June. For the most part all I could do was sit in front of a fan. At one point in my pregnancy for two straight weeks I couldn’t eat any food, it made me sick. I finally begged my husband to heat me something up in the microwave. The smell made me sick, so I had to try to eat with my nose plugged.
My second son at this time was a busy little bee, he kept busy following his brother around, who didn’t much care for him at the time. He kept getting hurt, falling out of trees, getting beat up and such. Finally I put a halt to that when he came home unconscious from being knocked out of a tree. He had to get used to hanging out with me until we made a friend for him that was around his age. I learned a lesson from this, never trust your eldest child to watch over your youngest, they won’t do a good job. I was learning quicker, this son thinks I am wonderful and loves me dearly.
You don't always get what you want
When my 3rd child was born she was rather colicky, for the first 6 months she was breast fed. It wasn’t until I switched her to the bottle that she stopped crying. I learned from this that not all babies can be breast fed, no matter what the Doctors say. She was lactose intolerant.
During this time my husband decided he wanted to be a truck driver, I did not want this at all. I didn’t get married to lose my husband to the road. He did it anyway, in the process leaving me to raise the children. I learned that to be a good mother I was going to have to take the responsibility of raising them myself. There were no more threats of “Wait until your father gets home”. Everything that needed to be done was dealt with swiftly.
Don't wait - ask now
A mere 18 months later I gave birth to my 4th child, thinking this may be my last child my mother went with me to deliver her. When she was 3 days old her 18 month old sister rolled her off the couch. I learned that newborns are very resilient.
When she was 19 days old we learned that she had broken her collar bone when she came out, she was my largest child weighing 9lbs 13oz. From this I learned to ask questions from the Doctor when the baby is born, not waiting until the first Doctors appointment.
The guilt weighs heavy on me
A short 16 months later I delivered my 5th child, a daughter as well. This one was slightly different. She didn’t cry, if she got upset she stuck her thumb in her mouth. Since she was my only thumb sucker I thought it was cute. She too was breast fed, but after only a few minutes on the breast she would fall asleep and being as busy as I was, I’d think that she was full and would put her down.
When she was two months old a older family friend looked at her and said there was something wrong with her, that she looked funny. I promised her that I would take her to the Doctors on Monday. The Doctors office said that they couldn’t fit me in, and I should take her to the emergency room. So I did just that. They hospitalized her for 4 days, she wasn’t eating enough. They called her a failure to thrive baby. This devastated me. I felt as though I had done something wrong. The guilt I carry around for this is immeasurable, if I had just paid more attention.
She survived because I learned. I learned to pay attention to her needs, as well as her wants. In my quest for being a good Mother, she taught me well. All of my children taught me, everything I learned about being a good mother came from paying attention to my children.
Read between the lines
As my children got older my patience with them increased, one would think it would have been the opposite. I paid closer attention to them, I learned to read between the lines when they were talking. Not all children speak with clarity. For example;
When my oldest boy was about 10 and my youngest boy was 7 they went out to play for a short time. I told them to stay clean, we were going shopping for new carpeting shortly (after I got the girls ready). Within ½ hour my oldest boy came home to tell me that his brother had ripped his pants. Ok, I got that he would have to change his clothes. I told him “Go get your brother, and be quick about it.” 10 minutes later he returned with “Mom, Anthony ripped his pants” (once again). “Yes, Matthew you told me that, now go tell him to get home, we have to leave”. Less than 10 minutes later he returned with “Mom, that guy sure is mad at you”. WHAT???!!! Ok, now we were on to something. At first Matthew was just trying to get Anthony in trouble, I understood that part, but if ‘some guy’ was involved something had to be terribly wrong. My husband grabbed Matthew and jumped in the car to go find him.
The guy was so mad because I didn’t come right away, he thought I was ignoring my son’s injury. He had climbed a fence and Matthew thinking he’d be funny shook the fence, Anthony got caught on one of the pointy things at the top, ripping a corner tear in his thigh. Rather than get carpeting we spent the day in the emergency room getting stitches.
Tell Me Everything!
So I learned to stop what I was doing, take a hold of the child by the arms, look them in the eye and ask for a better explanation. Using the words “Tell me everything that happened” became normal language for me.
These were just the very early years of parenting for me, with each new development I had to learn something new, and in the process learn how to deal with it. Children are an ever changing tide and each one has their own personality. I learned what works for one will not necessarily work for another.
10 things every good Mom should know!
When one of my young friends asks me how I became such a good Mother, there are so many things that I can tell them of what NOT to do. But what I do tell them is this:
- Be patient - Life is going to happen one day at a time.
2. Keep your eyes open to every new thing your child does.
3. Babies need more than milk, give them cereal before bedtime, you will get more sleep, I promise.
4.Diapers that hold 22 - 30 pounds, that means weight of the baby not the pee it holds.
5.Listen to the people around you, most of them have experienced ‘it’ before, or at least heard of it.
6.Don’t always trust the adults in authority, sometimes they get frustrated too, or are just plain mean.
7. Ask questions of people in Authority Doctors, Nurses and such.
8. Older brothers (or sisters) do not always have the best interests of their younger siblings, for the most part there is jealousy, and getting the younger ones in trouble is fun!
9. Raising your children is ultimately YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, do not rely on a spouse to do so. You gave birth to them, shoulder that responsibility, if you get help from your partner AWESOME, if you don’t, tough it out. Do the best job you can.
10. Most importantly LEARN daily. Listen to your child, they will teach you new and different things. Each child is different, so you will have to learn how to deal with each one individually. Life is a continually learning experience, you may not realize it but each day that something happens you learn something new. So just because you are out of school and you (at this point in your life) have no intentions of returning doesn’t mean you stop learning. Don’t fight it, embrace it, welcome it. Learn something new everyday.
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