Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apologies to my co-JD Moms for missing my blog last week. A migraine
had me incapacitated most of the day on Wednesday.  For today and
Friday, I've been wracking my brain thinking of something profound and
meaningful to talk about. Unfortunately, I can't think of anything!
Since our vacation, things have been pretty mundane around my house
and (thank goodness for small blessings) work.  Pretty much work for
me, school for the kids, nothing special, same old same old.  I know
that kids need consistency, but geesh, consistency can be downright
boring.  My big event this month was taking the kids to see The Secret
World of Arrietty.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good Japanese
animated movie, especially with Carol Burnett in it, but it certainly
wouldn't have been my first choice of films to see.  From Netflix
we've gotten Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief and Night at the
Museum II.  TV remains limited to Good Luck, Charlie, Pokemon and a
few episodes of Cupcake Wars.  Cupcake Wars notwithstanding, you can
see that some sacrifices have been made in the entertainment portion
of my life. 
Thinking about what I do watch versus what I want to watch got me
reflecting on our vacation. All the things I wanted to do versus all
the things I ended up doing because the kids wanted to do something
different.  I think there may be something profound here after all... and in two parts! 

Part I -Sacrifices we make for our kids
Part II - Sacrifices we make our kids make

Part I -

In reflecting on raising good kids, or at least giving it the old college try, I think its all about sacrifice.  This is based on my personal experience, on my observations of friends and family, and on my experience with families through work.  Being a good mom to young kids and raising good kids
is ALL about sacrifice.  You HAVE to put what they want and need over
what you want and need. Bottom line. And lots of times you have to put
what they NEED over what they WANT. (That'll be Part II - on Friday)  

With respect to sacrificing, my experience and current running theory
is that the more you sacrifice what you want - i.e.:actually being an
adult - watching R movies, having the ocassional drink, dropping the
occasional F bomb without guilt - and focus on what your kids need, the better
off they'll be. That sounds like such a "DUH" statement, doesn't it? But really, if you think about it, it's a tricky business. Because not only do
you have to pretend to enjoy, or at least quietly tolerate, the things
they do and like - Pokemon, Littlest Pet Shops, Good Luck, Charlie - you have to limit their exposure to the things YOU enjoy - CSI, War movies, getting a little tipsy once in a while - and, honestly, by limit, I mean "completely restrict" :)  

And while I disagree that organizations should be allowed to dictate what our kids watch and listen to, and that there is "parental discretion," lets be honest, not every parent is as discrete as they should be. I am not always as discrete as I should be, but that discretion is also sacrifice.   It is entirely inappropriate for a 7 year old to watch an execution; for a 4 year old to watch women giving birth, and for a 2 year old to go to the theater for a 10:30 p.m. showing of The Fast and the Furious. (all true stories, only one of them mine)  It's against the law to supervise your young children when you are drunk.  Just ask many, many of my former clients.  My work case load is replete with cases where the parents decided that they were not willing or not able to sacrifice what they wanted to do for the sake of what was best for their kids. (All CINA cases boil down to the same thing - either the parent is willing to sacrifice for his child or he's not.  If he's not, he loses the child.)  

Young children are not supposed to be exposed to those things for a reason, and when we, as parents, are not willing to give up those things - or at least limit our own exposure to those things to when our children are not around, we are doing them a disservice.  Thus, the sacrifice.  

For a long time before my kids were born, I was not willing to give up the things I liked to do. My husband and I told people we were too selfish to have kids, and while I said it sort of "tongue in cheek" in retrospect I know that it was true.  You can't be selfish and raise a good, healthy, secure kid. You have to sacrifice a lot to get there.  

At the end of our vacation, arriving at the Des Moines airport at 2a.m., after a LONG trip home from Florida and a delay in Minneapolis, we were waiting for our luggage. A man who was also waiting, and was observing my kids interact with each other, asked if they were mine. He said "they're good kids. it's not easy to stay in a good mood at this time of night, even for adults."  WOW! 

I know that, while I don't always like it - and sometimes I downright resent it - the sacrifices have paid off. Compliments from a complete stranger make it all worth while...


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