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Mommy to the rescue
Wearing the SuperMom cape
As mothers, we're accustomed to kissing our children's bobos and wiping their tears. We come to their rescue whenever they need it, even if that thing from which they need to be rescued doesn't seem so huffy-puffy-blow-your-house-down bad from our perspective. We're superheroes, firefighters, nurses, psychologists and referees, and our brains are in rescue mode 99% of the time when our kids are in motion (and, seriously, we should just say 100% because we never really stop being in that mode, even when they're asleep).
Nothing prepared me for all the roles I would play and decisions I would make as a mother. Every word I say to them can have an impact. Even if it's just, "Go brush your teeth," how I convey that message is important. Saying something so simple may not matter that much, but how I say it certainly does. Then I have to remember that how I handle disputes can make them feel like one is right and the other is wrong, so I have to think carefully how to address these situations to avoid the appearance of favoritism and to make sure that one doesn't get a first-class case of the big head while the other feels squashed, and then you have to make sure you're sensitive to their individual needs and get the story right and listen to both sides and remind them to stay calm and speak kindly and...
Oh my. Sometimes I need to shed the SuperMom cape and just sit down.
The revolving door of responsibilities can be dizzying, but it's a fundamental part of being a parent. So we take all these various roles and decisions seriously, but it seems we often overlook the simpler things we can do to earn a heroes' place in MommyLand. Our girls don't always have big issues that need to be solved every day. Some days, they just need to be entertained or listened to or held, and maybe they just need some Mama face-time to make the day better.
So here are my Mommy-to-the-rescue moments or Mommy hacks, depending on how you want to look at it. They're not astounding or original. They're just things I do that help my SuperMom cape sparkle a little brighter in our girls' eyes.
Chocolate chip cookies baked in a muffin pan
No, it's not even homemade cookie dough. It's that fundraiser cookie dough we all get rooked into buying at some point. We dig it out with an ice cream scoop, plop it into the muffin tin up to about the halfway point and bake it at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Turn the muffin pan over onto a cooling rack, and enjoy your perfectly circled, chocolate chip cookie muffins a few minutes later with a cold glass of milk. The girls love it.
Every child deserves to get barefooted, couldn't-care-less wet and dirty in a few puddles from time to time. Stomp, splash, laugh, repeat. It's fun, and you're washable, too, just like they are. Jump in, Mama. It might not seem fun to you, but it's a blast to them.
As each child goes to bed, make one or two minutes to talk to them directly, quietly and personally. They might want to talk about their siblings or something that happened at school or their newest cool trick. Whatever it is, listen. Give it importance. Act interested in every word they say. I didn't always do this, and I can never take back all the times I did the Mommy tuck-in-hush-and-rush to get out of the room. Once I started making personal time with each child, they went to sleep faster and were much happier with our nightly routine. They simply wanted to be acknowledged, and it really hasn't affected my nightly schedule. Well, maybe it has - I go into the rest of my evening feeling much better about the last things I said to my kids as they drifted off to sleep.
We don't make our kids make up their beds each day, and there are plenty of times they're instructed to clean their room by being told to "just shove it in the closet. As long as I can't see it and you can still get to your clothes, I don't care." We want them to value their possessions and to clean up after themselves, but, realistically, they aren't always going to be perfect housekeepers and organizers when they get out on their own. Letting them get by with a little chaos shined up to look organized on the surface makes us all happier, and we offer no apologies for our lack of perfection. They're still learning to manage the situation, so I'm okay with it.
Photography is one of my hobbies, so our kids have grown up quite accustomed to the camera. We document their lives through social media (with tightly held permission on who can see it, of course), and they know I keep the camera within arm's grasp. When our oldest turned four, she and I went on a picturing date to capture who and what she was at that age. We have repeated it every year, and when the middle child turned four, I began doing the same thing with her. I will surely continue with the youngest, and she, too, will expect to go picturing with Mama some time in the month or so after her birthday. We get private time together to be silly or serious or whatever feels right at the moment, and we get pictures to remind us of their personalities and looks at that age. It's something we eagerly look forward to each year and doesn't require spending a lot of money or doing anything particularly time-consuming to give them the spotlight for an afternoon.
Creative little creatures
Most kids love some form of art or expression. Whether it's singing, painting, coloring on the walls or cutting their own hair into funny shapes, they'll find a creative way to express themselves whether we offer it to them or not. When I find canvases on sale at a crafts store, I buy one or two and keep them on hand for days when they're looking for something to do. Out come the paints and brushes and a big dropcloth for the kitchen table, and they try to give life to those active imaginations they have. Last time, our middle child showed me what she had created and said it was "a machine that makes rainbows and scars." When asked if she knew what a scar was, she replied, "it's scratches that don't go away." So she did know, and she painted a machine that makes them (alongside the typical rainbows that five-year-olds are more known for). Well, okay! She created it, and her Daddy is going to put it in his office. I doubt anyone will realize those little lines are scars, but we know, and that's all that matter. She is proud, and so are we.
Much like their Mama, our girls are fascinated with cooking. The middle child has taken a special liking to it lately, and she promptly pulls her chair over from the table if I linger in the kitchen for more than a minute. "I'll help you, Mama," she says as she jumps up in her chair, and she is often more help than I can handle. It's okay, though. She is learning basic lessons about cooking, and we're spending time together. She is trying to master egg whisking and has a pretty good handle on dropping the butter into the skillet while we cook breakfast together on Saturday mornings. The oldest child mostly just wants to lick the spoon when I'm making cakes and cookies, but she still helps sometimes, too. It's simple and only requires me to remain patient and explain what's going on as we cook, but their pride and determination are more than worth the extra time and effort.
Walk this way
For the most part, we trust our girls to walk on their own and not run across parking lots. We watch them closely to make sure they're safe, but at 8 and 6, our oldest two are more than capable of handing themselves appropriately. Still, though, I like to hold their hands. It makes me feel safer and gives them a moment to feel connected. We don't talk about it or give reasons why. We just do it, and it's comforting. .
Each year on their birthday, they can pick whatever they want to eat for breakfast with no objections from their well-intentioned Mama. If they want ice cream, pickles and Ramen noodles, that's what they can have, and if anyone else in the house thinks that sound good, they can have that for breakfast, too. We try to get them to eat decently healthy meals and control how much they eat, and we certainly don't want food to become a celebratory symbol. But it's their birthday, and it only comes once a year. And, boy, can they get creative!
Just be a parent.
Parenting isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be angst-fueled. We were all kids once - remember? That wasn't such an easy job either! Together, though, we try to have fun and make memories, and along the way, SuperMom's cape earns a few extra sparkles. It doesn't take much. Pinterest can't teach it to you. No one can make it happen but you.
What simple thing are you going to do today to make your kids feel special? You're already their hero, so don't overthink it or try to make it a major event. Just keep calm and sparkle on, Mom. You've got this!