REAL TALK: Raising children is a billion times harder than I thought it was going to be...and I'm only on year two. And while I'm obviously still new to the Motherhood lifestyle, I'd venture to say the first two years are full of more "shoulds", "shouldn'ts", "you have tos", "nevers", and judgy eyes than any other age. These are the "formative years" for both child and mom. Your child is learning, growing, and developing into their own little person. And for mom, it's in these first few years you establish the type of mom you are going to be and your parenting "style."
The world has created an ever-changing and ever-growing lists of to-do's when it comes to child rearing. From diet, to socialization, to education, the internet, library, and local playground is flooded with differing opinions and perspectives. After careful study & consideration of many of these opinions and ideas, I've come up with my own theory: "Let Then Eat Cake." Not literally...well maybe sometimes literally. The Let Them Eat Cake theory is based on one simple principle: don't stress the small stuff. This idea came about on a day that I just could not win with my two year old, and all he wanted for breakfast that morning was a slice of cake in the bakery section at the grocery store, instead of the blueberry bagel I was trying to persuade him to buy...I was almost in tears trying to convince my son that he NEEDED to eat this bagel instead. And then it clicked...why was I doing this? Why was I wasting SO much energy on this? In this moment I can either choose to fight a losing battle and purchase the bagel that will most likely be thrown in my face or on the ground, OR I can surrender, purchase the slice of cake and proceed to have a happy day with my children. Now let me be clear, there is a distinct difference between letting your children walk all over you and choosing your battles. Choosing your battles can be a confusing concept because it can sometimes feel like giving in. My rule of thumb for choosing battles is: finding the give + take. Because my son chose cake for breakfast, I'm not going to offer the ice-cream in the freezer for a snack after lunch like I'd planned...he doesn't know that option even existed. But for me as a mother, I can rest assured that he didn't get any more sugar than I'd planned for that day, and he is excited because he gets to start the day with a special treat. WIN WIN.
As mothers we waste so much precious time worrying. We worry whether or not our child is handling social situations at an advanced or standard developmental stage, or if everything he ate that day was organic, gluten free, non-dairy, never processed blah blah blah. We have almost lost sight of WHY we are doing these things in the first place. I'd like to think universally the reason why we follow these crazy rules is because we want to be good mothers and raise happy, healthy, and successful children. While the reason may be universal, I'd like to propose that the steps we take to get there are not. Why? Because we are all different, and so are our children. For one child, cake for breakfast is acceptable because you know that by eating that one slice of cake they are not ruining an entire day's worth of nutrition. But for another child, that one slice of cake may have opened up a whole new world: one where the only acceptable food item for any meal is cake and cake only. Knowing your child is an obvious, but VERY important aspect of good parenting that can sometimes be over-looked. Because we spend so much time comparing to others, and following steps we read in a parenting book, we sometimes discredit our natural, innate ability to care for our children better than anyone else. Motherhood is such a complex role in that there are so many out there in the world who have that same title: Mom, but nobody who is doing it the same way you do. We search out the "perfect mom" and try to emulate everything she does, but don't get the same results because our children are not the same.
Now, just like in any other role in life, you evolve over time. You make changes, typically for the better (because you learn better.) I'm so thankful for this aspect of life! Aren't you!? I think if I had forever remained the strict schedule abiding, all home made organic food prepping, constant house cleaning, helicopter mom at the park, I wouldn't be as happy of a mother as I am today. While yes, those are great qualities for a mother to have, they're not so great if they take away from the most important quality of motherhood: happiness.
Now, let's be real...being a mom does not mean you're happy all the time. Like, it's okay to be frustrated and let a couple foul words slip when your 11 month old squeezes an entire pouch over his 3rd outfit of the morning as your trying to get out the door to a doctors appointment you're already 20 minutes late for...(yes, that's based on a true story.) But, to decline your two year old's heartfelt request to read stories with you because you're busy vacuuming for the 3rd time that day, that's an opportunity for lost happiness as a mom. (sadly, also a true story...)
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Katie, having everyone happy at the same time is a nice thought...but just not realistic." And you know what, you're right. There in lies that give + take principle again. Do you think I was actually "happy" surrendering and handing my son that slice of cake? No, not as happy as I could have been if he would have happily accepted the bagel I had initially offered. But I knew the decision I was making was the best one for the ultimate emotional stability and well-being of our day.
As I previously stated: we are all different, our children are all different. We all have differing opinions, views, and theories when it comes to parenting. And that's okay! As a mother, the best thing you can do is follow your intuition, know your child, and don't stress the small stuff. Because, you know what? Sometimes it's okay to choose ultimate happiness and say: "Let them eat cake."