What Would I Do Differently? ~ Writer’s Workshop

What would I do differently as a first-time mom? I have friends with kids throughout the continuum, from babes in arms to out and grown with their own little ones. As someone who constantly critiques and evaluates everything about myself, including my parenting through the years, I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve thought “I wish I had done that when mine were that age.” or “Wow! Glad I never had to deal with that!”. I’d be on the beach in Tahiti flirting with the cabana boy. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are great and I adore them just as they are, but looking back, I could have made it easier on them, my husband, AND ME to get to this point. I’ll just hit the high points, or this post will end up looking like War and Peace.
1.) Babies cry. It’s how they communicate. The fact that your baby cries does not make you a bad parent. The fact that you can’t get your baby to stop crying sometimes does not make you a bad parent. Maybe it’s something you can’t immediately fix, like their little nose it stuffy and that nasty booger sucker thing just isn’t doing the trick. Maybe their tummy hurts because of the garlicky pasta you ate before you nursed or just because sometimes tummies don’t feel good. Relax.
2.) Signing. Oh, yeah, sign language has been around for forever. WHY didn’t anyone tell me I could use it to help my pre-verbal children communicate and save them and me endless frustration? Oh, yeah, nobody was doing that 11 and 18 years ago – bummer.
3.) You will never go wrong being an advocate for your child’s right to be themselves. If your child is miserable in an environment or if a teacher or care provider has nothing at all positive to say about your child, get them out and get them out immediately. Every child has strengths that can be played to and every child learns better when they’re happy. Don’t ever “tough it out” for more than a brief period of time.
4.) Don’t force a child to play a sport, play and instrument, or do any extra-curricular activity if they really don’t enjoy it. Try it for one season and if they don’t like it, drop it. Just because you loved baseball or ice skating or debate team or whatever doesn’t mean your child will. Get over it and find what they do love.
5.) Push them academically. I learned this one the hard way with my eldest, and will not be making the same mistake with my youngest. I stressed myself out over grades in high school, knowing a scholarship was the only way I’d go to college. My parents didn’t push me, I pushed myself. But pressure is pressure, and I wanted my child to enjoy his high school years and enjoy learning for the sake of learning and not studying to make a grade. Yeah, doesn’t that sound nice? All he learned was how to slide by. And now I’m going to be working all the overtime I can find to put his lazy butt through college. My youngest WILL get scholarships, trust me.
What it boils down to, though, is my kids are wonderful people and I don’t think Michael and I’ve done too shabby a job raising them so far. Maybe it was just dumb luck, but I like to think it was loving them wholeheartedly and making sure they know it every moment of every day. That’s the one thing I wouldn’t change.
Thanks to Mama Kat for her always inspiring prompts on Writer’s Workshop!

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10 thoughts on “What Would I Do Differently? ~ Writer’s Workshop”

  1. That sounds like a lot of great advice. I agree about the sign language thing – I have a few friends who've used it successfully and I'll use it when I have kids. One day. 🙂

    Visiting from Mama Kat's.

  2. Loved this writing topic! As a mom to two young toddlers, your response was a great reminder to me….especially about pushing your kids academically. I think that is a trap that many parents, including myself, fall into easily.

    And yes, it does look like you've done a great job raising those boys of yours!

  3. That is wonderful advice. I'm just now beginning my parenting journey, and I need all the help I can get. I agree with the academic part. My mother pushed me hard academically, and I'm grateful for it. It taught me character. There were times when it was difficult for me to accept, but I'm glad she cared enough to look out for my future.

  4. I think signing is such an awesome thing. I am definitely going to do that with our next baby. If only I can talk my husband into a NEXT baby : )

  5. Those all seems like great lessons – those as someone with no kids, I'm sure I won't take any of the advice and make all the same mistakes! (I'm not a fast learner.)

  6. I think I have time! My babe is just 11 months old… but I need to do the signing thing. I think they are teaching her that in day care!

    Stopping from Kat's..

  7. wonder who you heard about signing from??

    And don't worry … we're going to be pusher moms together!

    You know you're doing a fabulous job, and that's part of why I love you!

  8. I have a did-enough-to-get by child myself. Drives me cray. We'll see how her brother will do.

    Stopping by from SITS.


  9. Great post! I really loved #'s 3 and 4. It's amazing how long we will leave our kids in a bad situation (as you described in #3) because something is "wrong" with our kids.

    #4 was my favorite! I remember signing my son up for t-ball when he as five years old. Living in Texas, you're either a baseball player or a football player, when you are male. I had such high hopes for baseball. Football was just too scary for this momma. To make a long story short, he was miserable! No matter how much I pushed and forced, he was dead set against it. Anyways, you made a very good point!

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