Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Parenting Today

Thanks for all the comments yesterday, but I don't want you all to think that I posted that so that you would all sing my praises about how great a mother I am. No, no need to worry about that. I know that I'm not going to be Mother of the Year, but I actually do believe that, for now at least, I am a good mom. Really. But, it doesn't hurt to hear it from all of you "unbiased" outsiders! Thanks.

This whole discussion, however, brought to mind a conversation I had with another attorney at my law firm. He and his wife got married slightly later in life (still of child bearing age and all that). They had their first child (a son) two weeks after I had Luke. They had a daughter about six months after I had Evie. They didn't rise to the challenge of having a third -- pansies. In fact, the husband looked a little ill when I announced that we were having a third. Anyhow, when they got married and had their son, the wife was working as a nurse anesthetist. This is a serious job that takes a lot of education and training. She's a "Professional Mother" in every sense of the term. But, she decided to stay at home with her kids after they had their daughter. Respectable. A choice that most women would love.

So the husband and I were chatting at work the other day and I mentioned that I don't know how his wife manages it. I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a stay at home mom when the kids aren't of an age to go play by themselves for a while or head off to school for at least a few hours. I can't imagine being a mom for 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It just makes my mind spin and I feel like I would turn into a monster mom that is constantly yelling and harping. Seriously. Yowser! That's a lot of time with the kids. However, I know that there are tons of people (a lot of friends of mine included) who would be in absolute heaven if they had the opportunity to stay at home with their kids.

Anyway, he mentioned that we are essentially the first generation of parents that feel the need to stay at home with our children and teach them and entertain them all. day. long. He's right. In addition, yesterday Angela (a very sweet blogger friend) mentioned that our parents' generation was really focused on putting food on the table, keeping the kids clothed, and making sure there was a roof over their kids' heads. They are both right.

When I was a kid, I spent HOURS away from the house - playing outside or spending the day with friends. Then, I would show up for dinner. I rode my bike to school or walked there and back by myself. I played in the street that I lived on. I would spend hours playing with the neighbor's kids. I would ride my bike all over the neighborhood. I was not in my mother's constant presence. I turned out fine. My mom, a blessed mother of six, is still sane - for the most part. So why, then, do the parents of this generation feel the need to be with their children 24-7?

I don't have the answer, but I will tell you that I do not imagine that my kids will be allowed to roam the streets the way I did. I just feel like it is too dangerous. I didn't feel like I was in any danger growing up, but the world feels different as an adult. I can't explain it.

The point is that the pressures of being a SAHM are so much greater than they used to be. Now, you not only have to feed, clothe, and shelter your children, but you are also directly responsible for ensuring that they excel academically and extracurricularly (not a word, but cut me some slack). We have to make sure that kids have every opportunity to shine. For example, this year, Luke is playing soccer, joining cub scouts, adopting a football player, going to birthday parties, and going to church school. This year, Evie is playing soccer, going to art class, going to a pre-kindergarten program, going to birthday parties, and going to church school. These two children are almost more over-scheduled than I am. Am I doing the right thing? Should they have all these opportunities? If not, what should I cut out of their schedules?

In case I haven't already mentioned it, parenting is difficult. And I say that knowing full well that parenting these perfectly healthy children is a gift from God.

Okay, I'm done with my preaching and ranting this morning. You guys have a great day. Let me know if you have any insight on this matter.

Until then, here are some pictures to brighten your day and mine.

Next time I'll get some pictures of the older kids. They are uninterested in having their pictures taken, but I love telling them they have to do something "because I said so", so we'll get some pictures no matter what.


lisawitt said...

very good post and gives me a few things to think about too!

also, I want an update on Rosie! How is she doing? how are the kids adjusting to rosie vs lindsey?

we missed you this past weekend too! :)

Theresa said...

I'll do a Rosie post tomorrow!

The Potters said...

T - I hate to tell you this, but you are a mom 24/7. :) We just choose to not be with our children 24/7, which is NOT a bad thing.

I also wouldn't like being a SAHM. But I also definitely appreciate my reduced schedule. (I still don't know how you do it all!) That said, I still struggle with this decision to work and leave my child in the care of someone else. I wish someone would've warned me how incredibly hard--physically and emotionally--it is. Luckily, this has gotten so much easier the older and more active she gets.

Theresa said...

Good point, K. I think about those kids a lot while I'm at work. I'll have to post pictures of my office. Those kids are everywhere!

Mary said...

This is very interesting and I think a relevant conversation for all parents. Why do we feel the world is so much more dangerous now? Now we have cell phones and can actually track our kids with GPS - we should feel safer letting them run around the neighborhood for hours with their friends - or hell - even without them. I am not saying I would do this - but it is food for thought.
In any case, I think our parents had to learn to let go and trust God would watch over thier kids in increments - just as we do.
While I could spend all day out on my bike as a 10 year old - I was grounded on my high school graduation day because my parents did not where I was with my friends. It's not easy at any age...