Doing things FOR my kids is not the same as doing things WITH my kids.

This is a thought that haunts me. It haunts me with the Ghost of Kids Grown Up who ask me why didn’t I play Candyland with them (I can’t stand Candyland). It haunts me with the Ghost of Babies Grown Up who take so much time and so much effort and yet, did I savor every precious moment in the flurry of chores? Because, it’s gone, they are not babies anymore and will never be again. It haunts me with the Ghost of My Past and what I wished my mom had done with me or what maybe I don’t remember she did.

And yet, it’s so hard for me to switch gears from being a task-master of my own to-do list (and theirs) to being Fun Mom that can stop and realize that my seven-year-old won’t always want to tell me about the cannons and jet packs on his latest Lego creation and that my ten-year-old will stop telling me (every detail) about the book she’s reading and that my thirteen-year-old won’t always beg me to come watch a funny YouTube video and laugh with her.

I have things to do! Important things! Things that they can’t do and things that won’t get done (right) unless I do them. My righteousness with this sentiment is so strong at the time but, I have to figure out how to listen to these Ghosts and become a better Scrooge.

I went out to lunch and a day of shopping with my 13-year-old and it was fun! I had it planned in my calendar, so I shifted all of my other responsibilities around to accommodate our day together. I still accomplished everything, including the extra work around the Easter holiday festivities. Lesson learned: schedule the dates with my kids as if they’re as important as my work projects and household chores. Woah, I just read that…aren’t they more important, more lasting?

I believe this is what smart people call a paradigm shift. I need to shift my thinking before it’s too late. I know I won’t ever be sorry or regret time spent WITH my kids. I just need to get past the immediate needs of daily life and see the immediate need of playing, *gulp* dumb and pointless games that have no strategy and seem like they will never end. I have a 30-some-year-old embroidery thing hanging in my laundry room that my Great Aunt Dathel made for my mom that says,

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow
For babies grow up as we’ve learned to our sorrow,
So, quiet down, cobwebs

Dust, go to sleep
I’m rocking my babies
And, babies don’t keep

What are your thoughts and ideas and stories of successes and short-comings (let’s not say “failures”, K? It sounds so final) in this area.

Also, ask me how it’s going in a few weeks. I also have a deficiency known as, live-up-to-expectations-itis.

One thought on “Doing things FOR my kids is not the same as doing things WITH my kids.

  1. Jen,
    I relate!!!! I am not the capricorn task master you are so I do not have the to do list as heavy on me as on you. Time is such a two-faced friend, isn’t it? I was always very baby selfish and a baby hog with my own kids. My friends furrowed their brows at me and said “aren’t you supposed to WANT a break?!” nope. lol
    I am pretty good about taking time to do things with them, although sometimes I catch myself in a busy moment telling them “I’m busy, just a minute” for something I really should stop and do/look at.
    did our mothers even struggle with this? I am not sure. I don’t know that they were as multi-tasked as we are. It seems a plight unique to our generation of mothers.
    what I found when they were babies, which maybe will console you some, is that with each milestone I was sad that the last phase was ending. Each time I put away a size for the next size up I was sad that my tiny teeny itty bitty cute bundle of slobber was growing and its head didn’t fit neatly in the palm of my hand anymore (I had tiny babies. THESE hips and 6 lb babies. hello. tell me God has no sense of humor!?! ). The toothless smile was gone. the blah blah blah…its all gone. But each time something left, it was replaced with something even better. Each new phase had joy in it. That concept becomes MUCH harder to master as they get older and are teenagers (GIRLS OMG). Cliff has some issues that are very frustrating. But while I long for the days of his toothless grins, I am so grateful for his ability to express his love for me, concern for me, gratitude for things. I am so grateful that he is the brother he is.
    I am struggling with this very issue with Mandy because she is SOOOO cute right now that I want to freeze her! she’s tiny and petite and her hugs fit against me SO perfect its just tragically beautiful!!!! I don’t want her to get bigger or stop sounding like a 3 year old bossy me. I don’t want her to stop patting her baby dolls to sleep so hard it looks like abuse. she’s SO damn cute it hurts!!! But I know that when she stretches just past this phase, she will also be slightly less whiney, a little less ornery (she’s MINE so …a LITTLE is all I hope for), and a bit more….something great-er than what she already is. Its the joy and agony of parenting. I find it so hard too.
    here in Bako I struggle to take them outside during the summer to DO fun things. I want to DO fun things…with GLITTER and CUPCAKES and stuff INSIDE!!! its still great mom time!!! but I have to MAKE myself go outside into the inferno. ugh I hate it. but they need it. That is one of my big struggles that is ongoing.
    Another is the sacrifice of time to do something…like taekwondo or soccer. I FEEEEEEL like a bad mom for not wanting to sacrifice the meager few hours I have each evening (NOT counting the homework I resent), to go to a soccer practice or blah blah blah meet/practice/game etc. I would much rather be WITH my kids. so the shift there is that I am selfish not only with my time but with them…again…I am STILL a baby hog. I hate that conflict. I battle it frequently. and the summer heat issue plays into that one too.
    I tell myself that I turned out OK just knowing that my parents loved me and put a wading pool in the front yard and gave me popsicles and allowed friends to come over and play. That was enough to make my childhood full of great stuff. So I try to be gentle on myself about the expectations society hands me about what my kids SHOULD be doing RIGHT NOW.
    I hate rules.
    I hate conflict.
    I hate regret.
    I hope someday my kids like me enough to come over and have an umbrella drink with their screwed up mother to discuss these shortcomings. I would be so ok with that…

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