This is the tale of two parents.
Parent A anxiously watches over her child, always knowing what
she's doing and where she's at. Food dropped on the floor is
quickly swept away. The child walks in a public bathroom with her
hands folded together, touching nothing. Her car seat is clean
- no leftover sippy cups or half-eaten snacks in sight.
Parent B doesn't appear to always be watching her children,
although she is always checking and counting them in her head. One
or two always seem to be off doing their own thing or threatening
an escape. The toddler eats Cheerios off the floor in the
gymnastics waiting area. When she walks into the public restroom,
she sets her baby on the floor while pulling the toddler, who is
hugging the toilet, to the front so she can sit on it properly.
When they get to the car, the toddler pulls out an M&M from
somewhere, eats it and picks up a sippy cup that "might" be from
Two parents seemingly so very different, but really so very much
the same. They're both just trying to do the best they can for
their kids. I know this because I am Parent A. Lately I am also
Parent B. On any given day someone on the outside looking in will
either think I am Superwoman or a one-woman circus act.
I used to be the mom that stressed over the clean floors, what
my kids ate and taking potty-training toddlers to the bathroom-and
germs. With each additional child I've realized how little any of
that helps me or my kids. I'm stressed, they're stressed and as
grandma used to say, "a little dirt don't hurt!" Whether I am
totally diligent about hand washing or more than a little lax, with
four kids someone is always coming down with something.
Honestly, I'm not putting my baby down on dirty truck stop
bathrooms, but I did lay him down on the school bathroom floor
(first thing in the morning!) and on the welcome mat when you walk
in - they were both visibly clean. I don't normally let my
children eat off the floor - not even at home - but if
the choice is a toddler tantrum for the 45 minutes of gymnastics or
letting her dump and pick up her Cheerios, I'll take my chances
with the floor.
After all these years I've learned there is no wrong way to
parent. That by relaxing just a bit, not fretting over every little
thing, I enjoy parenting more. And really my child benefits far
more from a parent who enjoys her than she risks from sitting on a
bathroom floor or eating an M&M found in her car seat.
At least I hope that's the case!
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
See more of Melissa's stories here.
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