One of Them
I think it may be time to admit that I’m turning into one of “those” mothers.
While I like to believe I’m just a reasonable mother who wants her children (singular at the moment, but someday, hopefully, there will be more) to have every experience possible (within reason). I want them to have the chance to explore things to determine what their interests are…and aren’t. I don’t want to try and mold them into something they’re not and I don’t want to try and make them into the kind of person I wish I’d been as a child. I will not live vicariously.
However, it has come to my attention (thanks to my ever-honest and forthright husband) that I may have inadvertently become one of the ridiculous parental units that always annoyed me BC (Before Children).
For instance…I’ve heard stories of parents who have gone way overboard for their child’s first birthday. Here are some examples:
- A Noah’s Ark theme with life-size animal cut-outs on the walls, stuffed animals everywhere, a large ark in one room (not sure what it was made out of), and the parents dressed as Noah and his wife.
- A tiered castle cake and pony rides for the birthday girl and her friends – who are all, of course, dressed in princess dresses.
- A large BBQ with dozens of people, video games and beer – clearly not a child’s party.
I have ALWAYS scoffed at such parents, wondering how they could think it was a good idea to make such a big deal out of their child’s first birthday when there is no way they will remember it. In my mind, such parties were only an excuse to get the parents and their friends together to party it up.
Little Miss will be one year old on July 29. As I plan what to do to celebrate this milestone with her, I of course share ideas with Husband. Most of the time, he just looks at me and says, “Honey…” And I know what he’s thinking. One time he even said, “You’re starting to sound just like those parents you always make fun of.” I denied it, but deep down I knew he was right.
Earlier this summer I enrolled Little Miss in a parent and tot swim class. It actually took a little bit of doing and a special request from me to the swim class organizer to get an evening class we could attend (they were originally held only in the mornings at 10:30 – absolutely impossible for us to manage as full-time working parents), but we did it and I was very excited.
For four weeks we took Little Miss to the pool two nights a week and practiced kicking, going underwater, laying on our backs and tummies in the water, and putting our arms up above our heads (i.e. reaching for toys floating in front of us). She never did enjoy the kickboard (she only wanted to crawl on it) and blowing bubbles was a completely foreign concept.
I was thrilled to be able to have such a great opportunity to introduce Little Miss to swimming and to lay the groundwork for enjoying water later in her life. Husband…he muttered something about being some of “those parents” again. I guess he thought all we needed was a minivan and a few rowdy 8-year-olds with soccer jerseys on in the back seat.
Speaking of which, that’s something Husband refuses to ever own: A minivan. So we have an SUV instead. It hauls seven people or, if you lay the back seats down, five and a bunch of “stuff.” Or, if you lay the middle seats down, too, two people and a TON of “stuff.” This was a compromise when we determined our 1993 pickup was out of commission for regular town-driving. Husband wanted to be able to haul “stuff” and I wanted to make sure we could haul our (future) kids and their little friends. Since minivans weren’t even on the radar and trucks don’t necessarily lend themselves to hauling babies around, an SUV it was. And I was okay with that.
Of course, myself and Husband both being musical, I have plans for our children to experience the joys of forced 30-minute practices every day at some point. My plan is to start them on piano and then, once they get to high school (or earlier, depending on the kid, of course) they can choose to pick up a different instrument or stick with piano, but they will stay involved in music somehow. Then, once they graduate from high school it’s up to them to decide whether or not they continue with lessons and/or ensembles.
I wonder sometimes if Little Miss (or any of her possible future sisters) will be interested in ballet. Or if we’ll be attending T-ball games for a possible future son. I daydream about Husband taking each of our kids to a baseball game as a “Daddy-Daughter/Son Day” and picking up an ice cream on the way home…and carrying them in from the car sleeping after it’s all said and done. I watch Little Miss’ many entertaining and various expressions and wonder if she’ll be interested in drama.
Before we even got pregnant, Husband and I made a list of places in the United States we want to take our kids to visit. It includes (in no particular order):
- The Grand Canyon
- Mount Rushmore
- New England
- Mammoth Caves
- The Oregon Coast
- The Washington rain forests
- Every zoo possible
- Zion/Arches/Bryce Canyon/Monument Valley
The list is VERY long and we will most likely have to rely on them to get to most of the places during their adult lives, but we still had fun making it.
So here I am, embarrassed, admitting that I am somewhat one of “those” mothers. The key is to not take things overboard and to remain reasonable in everything I do. I do want my kids to have every opportunity to experience different cultures, peoples, music, foods, places and things. I want them to have a healthy respect for the differences in people and places and to enjoy getting to know and exploring them as much as I do. I want them to enjoy doing many different things and never be afraid to try something new. Is that so bad?
I say no, it’s not.
And no matter what Husband has to say about it, I’m still putting miniature rubber ducks on the cupcakes at my daughter’s rubber duck-themed first birthday party.