My parenting style has surely surprised me during the past 3 years. Yes, Hudson is 7 years old, but I feel like I hadn’t really found out what type of parent I was going to be until I got thrown into the ‘holy shit I have three boys’ battlefield. Parenting one adorable little prince is completely different from parenting the amount of children who could almost populate a small country. So, it has only been recently that the true version of me as a mother has come to the surface. And it has definitely surprised me.
I went to college and earned a Masters in Educational Psychology. So, my parenting philosophy started off as being incredibly pretentious and smug. I was going to use positive reinforcement, behavioral strategies, and actually communicate with and respect my children. I came out of school firmly planted on the left wing, and ready to show up all of the other parents in the world in regards to how good parenting should actually be done. I was already a true expert in the world of parenting (even though I didn’t have any children yet)… and all of those watching should just take notes. With my nose high up in the sky, I took on the task of helicopter parenting like nobody’s business. Hudson never climbed a jungle gym without the safety net of my arms beneath him… he never navigated the stairs in our house without his hand in my palm… and he was read several books before I laid him to sleep each night, in which he slept through the night perfectly by the time he was 7 weeks old because he was scheduled, and I was consistent…
Spanking… don’t even get my started on spanking because I would never, ever spank my child…
Fast forward to today… and to me eating every single one of those words (and being embarrassed as hell to even type them)… along with the karmic gods of parenting punishing me for being the most disgusting form of judgmental parent, ever.
I have three little personalities running around the house at all times. The house is a mess every moment of the day. I lose my temper just as many times as I pick up dirty underwear off the floor (which is a lot since they all want to change their clothes multiple times and/or have accidents which I hope will only involve #1… if I’m lucky).
Brody threw a tantrum beyond tantrums yesterday because he didn’t want to take a nap… and I spanked his little leg (insert AUDIBLE GASSSSSP here) with just enough gumption to let the sting resonate, and to ascertain the notion that Mommy don’t play. I thought to myself, “There you go, Jodi… that’ll teach him… (in the most sarcastic tone I have ever used)”… Because actually, it just made him cry louder… and it made me feel like the shittiest parent on the planet for letting my frustration get the best of me. But, let’s face it, my frustration gets the best of me regularly. I don’t spank often, but sometimes I think that a little spank would probably hurt less than the fury of words that escape my mouth.
They eat from a drive thru more times than I want to admit in a week. I have put Hudson in charge of bed time stories now that he can read, but let’s be real… I can probably count the number of books I have read to Brody on one hand. He is obviously a sufferer of last kid syndrome. I do everything in my power to just make it until 7:00pm each night without one losing one of them. And that, my friends, is my measure for success. If they all make it into their beds at night with at least one form of fruit or vegetable having made it into their stomachs (applesauce is totally a fruit), somewhat clean (but this is measured on a very loose scale of cleanliness), and breathing independently… then I have done my job. And dammit, I have done it well!
Please don’t think that this is a post that requires motherly validation. I am a damn good mother, and my kids are loved beyond measure. And they know that they are loved, because thankfully, I am just as giving with hugs, kisses and kindness as I am with my scornful fits. I’m simply trying to point out that I am everything that I thought I wouldn’t have been as a mother. I fall closer in line with the traditional parenting methods that I was raised with than I thought I would be, and I am actually ecstatic about it.
I want my children to grow up together… not as individuals. Yes, I want them to be themselves, but I also want them to grow up knowing that they are part of a whole. And that in order for our world to function they have to learn to communicate and get along. I want them to share a room until they move out for college. No, I don’t think that a child needs his privacy. I actually think that they need the opposite. Privacy is not a need; it is an entitlement. They need their siblings to whisper with them throughout the night about how much they hate their parents. They need to fight over whose side of the room their toys are on, and who is going to clean them up. They need to argue over clothes, bathroom time, and whose turn it is to pick up the dog poop. They need a dose of healthy fear in their parents… and a ‘you live under my house, you obey my rules’… mentality. Because the world is full of rules. Their place of employment will have rules; their college dorms will have rules; their marriages will have rules. If they can’t follow rules then I have set them up for failure in society.
We live in a small house with small bedrooms, and we have thought several times about moving, but the more and more we think about it, the less and less we want to move. Living in a small house means that I am always going to be up in my kids’ business. They aren’t going to be able to get away from me, and I love it. I can hear every fight that happens down a hallway, and I will always know what they are watching on television. I will hear gossip that would have never been shared if the hallways in our house were too long. I had this conversation with a friend once, and a few days later she gave me a gift. It was a pillow that said, “Love grows best in little houses, with fewer walls to separate. Where you eat and sleep so close together, you can’t help but communicate. If we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss. Love grows best in houses just like this.” And, I absolutely couldn’t agree with this more.
Which is why I decided to cough up some extra money when I was hunting for a sleeping situation that would allow all three boys to share a room. I had custom, triple bunk beds built in their room after spending hours debating the design in my head, and not finding something that I loved from a furniture store. So far, it has been the best parenting decision I have ever made. The laughter that trickles through the hallways at night is medicine for my overly-tired soul, and I hope that they will learn every lesson there is to be learned from sharing a room with your siblings… the most important one being… to hate their brothers’ freaking guts most of the time, but to be their best friend all of the time.