Parenting without the Pessimism

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Recently, I’ve developed a habit I’m not particularly proud of. On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I’ve heard myself say, “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time, I’m just going to (insert some overdramatic, blanket generalization).” For example, “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time, I’m just going to feed my kids pseudo-food from McDonalds for every meal!” Or, “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time, I’m enrolling the kids in the local school tomorrow!”

I’m hoping it’s just the hormones (because I really don’t want to have to admit that this yucky behavior just developed from my otherwise charming personality), but, lately, I start feeling defeated so easily.

My hubby buys the kiddos a gatorade from the gas station on a road trip. Suddenly, I feel all my efforts to avoid certain ingredients have been undermined.

A family member exposes my kids to something I would prefer my children remain naive about for the present time. Now, I believe that all efforts to protect their innocence have been thwarted.

We have a day with less-than-stellar sharing skills, and I think all of my character building lessons have been a waste.

I don’t know why I’ve fallen into this pattern of pessimism and frustration, but I was so grateful to stumble upon this graphic last night before bed.  It was a message I really needed to hear/be reminded of. My efforts with my children do matter. Every effort, no matter how small. And, although they are going to see/hear/do things that contradict those efforts, my efforts are not in vain. The example I set matters. The lessons I teach matter. I am forming my children and helping them become who they were meant to be. Other influences matter, too, but they don’t void mine.

My hope is that this seemingly insignificant graphic has shaken me out of my little defeatist rut. It’s time to change my attitude and get back to parenting without the pessimism.

A Mother’s Prayer

I saw a version of this on facebook this morning. It is so perfect for me. I need to make it my mantra.Mothers Prayer

The one on facebook had be made a little more colloquial and went like this:

Oh give me patience when wee hands

Tug at me with their small demands.

And give me gentle and smiling eyes.

Keep my lips from hasty replies.

Let not weariness, confusion, or noise

Obscure my vision from life’s fleeting joys.

So when in years to come my house is still

No bitter memories it’s rooms may fill.

Either way, I was touched. While scrolling by a quick graphic, I saw a reflection of my striving. I copied it into my journal, but I think I’ll probably post in my bathroom or inside a cabinet or somewhere where I’ll be able to catch a quick glance of it in the heat of trying moments.

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32Based on the amount of times this video has appeared in my newsfeed – and the “Bahahaha!! THIS IS SO FUNNY…because it’s TRUE!” comments that accompany it – it seems like this little parody has really struck a chord with women in their early thirties. I really have no idea why. Other than her love of cheese and her dental procrastination (neither of which is new to my thirties) I can’t relate to it at all. Does this mean I’m out of touch with the average woman my age? Maybe so. And if that is what it means, I have never been so grateful to be out of touch. Are most women out there really this bored and boring? So frustrated, yet so satisfied with their monotony? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a stick in the mud. I understand that is supposed to be funny. I just don’t think it is. In fact, I thought it was pretty darn depressing.

Despite tedious moments, my life is exciting and wonderful. A new adventure every day. Like the the lady in the video, I may not want more than one drink when I go out, but that’s because I have too much to live for the next day to be confined to the couch with a headache. I, too, love my sweatpants, but that’s because I’ve reached a point of personal liberation in which I don’t care if I’m stylish or not. I, too, am somewhat of a recluse, but that’s becasue nothing outside of my home can hope to compare to the value of what I have within. So I guess I’m just trying to say: I don’t get it. And I’m glad I don’t.

Moving at His Own Pace

One of the many things that appealed to me about homeschooling was the ability to progress at my kids’ own pace. Their studies will never have to move so quickly that they are left behind, and they won’t be forced to do busy work despite having already mastered a concept. I spent most of my academic career on either side of that fence. Mostly, I was bored to tears because we spent way to much time on concepts that I grasped quickly. This lead to complete apathy on my part. I never did any homework, always planning to complete it the class period prior to it being due, since I viewed my being in class a complete waste of my time. However, when I was younger, from about 5th – 7th grades, I was beyond lost in math. Ironically, this also lead to apathy, as it appeared, regardless of the effort I put in, I would never grasp those concepts. Thankfully, my mother got an incredible math tutor for me and she turned my math woes around. Knowing that neither position is one that ignites a love of learning, I am more than pleased to never have to put my children in either situation.

But there’s one little problem…

In our recent phonics studies, I’ve found that the pace at which I would like to move is much different from the pace at which Andy is prepared to move. This has led to more than a few tense moments of me pleading “sound it out” as he guesses through a string of words that we covered that day. It makes me crazy. But I just keep pushing. And then he gets frustrated. And wants to quit. Which also makes me crazy. I quickly developed a hatred for phonics, very seriously considered switching phonics programs, and then had the epiphany that neither phonics nor our curriculum was the problem. It’s me.

I have an agenda. I want to move through this a quickly as possible. I want him to be ahead of the pack. I want all our family and friends who are critical of our decision to homeschool to have to eat crow when they see him reading at a 6th grade reading level in 1st grade. (Ok…I’m not quite that crazy…but I’m not far off either.) I’m pushing him into one of the situations I hate most about a traditional classroom. But I’m even worse. I’m not pushing him forward or holding him back for the good of 20 other students, I’m doing for my own pride. My own sinful, selfish pride.

I wholeheartedly believe that we made the right decision when we chose to homeschool this year. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. But if I keep up like this I’m essentially self-sabotaging: He’s going to hate learning and I’m going to hate teaching. I’m just grateful I came to this realization early on. Now, knowing the issues I have with my pride, we’ll just have to see how many times I have to fight this battle with myself over the next 17+ years.

Say it with me: I will teach my children at their own pace. I will teach my children at their own pace. I will teach my children at their own pace…

I mean so what if he’s in 4th grade and is just finally learning to write his own name? This is about them, not me, right? (And for all my critics reading this: don’t worry, he already knows how to write his name. I’m just making a point.)