Hi all, Amy Maxwell here again! Sorry I’ve been MIA… I’ve been busy doing that crazy thing called “parenting”; you know, when you have all intentions of actually doing other (productive) things besides flecking dried eggs off the counter and removing crayon from the wall, but that sucks the life out of you so you don’t end up doing anything but falling asleep on the couch at 9 pm???
Anyway, I took my two younger kids to the park the other day since it was the first nice day in a while. The temperature was creeping up around 50 degrees so after a frigid winter, the park was crawling with parents and kids alike bursting with a touch of spring fever. I sent Colt and Evan to play on the swings while I attempted to catch up on the five hundred and seventy two emails on my phone(no, I am not even exaggerating a teensy bit…I wish I was). I was glancing up from time to time to make sure nobody had cracked their head open on the ground and Evan wasn’t putting mulch in his mouth. It was then I noticed these three mothers spread out through the park. There was nothing overly remarkable about these women; they weren’t wearing pearls and they didn’t have blue Mohawks or anything, but they were sticking out like sore thumbs…all three were obviously suffering from “First Child Syndrome”.
As I leaned back and drop my phone in my lap, I found myself watching these women with amusement…ah, how I remembered when I too suffered “First Parent Syndrome” or aka “Helicopter Parenting”. Back when I was young and naïve and had a bunch of energy. I glanced over at Evan (who was flinging his jacket off at the moment) and realized that there are huge differences between the first child and the fourth (actually, this probably applies to the first child vs. any subsequent child…you just get successively more exhausted with each one you pop out).
1. When Allie was Evan’s age, I made sure all of her food was organic and homemade. I poured over recipes each week to compile the healthy grocery lists, taking in account all the necessary components for brain development like omega 3 fatty acids. Each meal contained foods from every food group; she didn’t eat fast food ever. She didn’t even know what McDonald’s was until my father mistakenly brought her there one day (she was 5).
Evan’s first word WAS McDonald’s.
2. Allie was always dressed meticulously, hair combed neatly, gathered into a ponytail or braid. Her clothes were new, clean, and fit perfectly. She had a bath every single night with Johnson’s Lavender Sleepytime soap and I made sure she brushed her teeth for 2 minutes every single morning and night (she had a sticker chart and a timer).
Evan is currently wearing hand me down sneakers from Colt that are too big and have a hole in the sole. His sweatpants are too small and are gathering around his calves. His hair is sticking up, I can’t remember the last time he had a bath, and I’m pretty sure his shirt not only has a hole in it, but a huge juice stain down the front. Oh, but he regularly uses his toothbrush…to comb his hair.
3. Our living room walls are covered with pictures of Allie; 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, Allie at preschool graduation, Allie at her first recital, Allie at Disneyworld, etc., etc. I had a membership to the JcPenny’s Picture Club and I sure as heck wanted to get my money’s worth. I have an entire Rubbermaid container of Allie’s photo albums and videos stashed at the bottom of my closet.
We have a picture in the living room of Evan when he was born and several on my phone that I haven’t gotten around to uploading to the computer yet.
4. When Allie was little if she so much as coughed or had a temperature that broke 100, I would rush her to the doctor, certain that she was going to need IV fluids and breathing treatments and maybe even a croup tent. Needless to say, she picked up even MORE germs from those doctor’s visits and ended up with a cough or fever half the year. She’s now allergic to three different antibiotics and has full blown asthma.
I took Evan to the ER when he fell down the stairs and split his lip. He’s only been to the pediatrician for his immunizations and well visits. Oh and once he had an ear infection.
5. Allie was only allowed to have one hour of screen time a day. That was computer OR TV, not both. I was so rigid about it that if we watched a movie that was an hour and a half, I deducted a half hour from her next day’s screen time. I played Playdoh with her, did puzzles, made crafts, MADE Playdoh…anything to keep her occupied and away from the screen that was going to melt her brain.
I don’t even remember the password to my iPad…that’s how long it’s solely been in Evan’s possession.
So maybe it looks like I’ve gotten lazier with each child, but I’m thinking I’ve just gotten smarter, a heck of a lot smarter. After all, who has TIME for all that stuff with more than one kid??? Who has time for it with ONE kid??? I spent half my life beating myself because I didn’t think I was doing enough, I didn’t think I was “mothering” enough. It turns out I was doing TOO much and screwing up by being neurotic. My advice to new moms? Stop beating yourself up and RELAX. Your kid didn’t get to bed at 8:00 on the dot? It’s fine. They’re resilient. You didn’t read to your child tonight because you had to help your other kid with his four hours of homework (don’t even get me started on homework)? It’s ok…they’ll live. Maybe they’ll fall asleep faster or something. The kids had frozen pizza for the second time this week? Give them carrots with it…it’ll even out in the end.
You’re one person, and an amazing one at that, no matter what you do because the bottom line is, if you get them out of the house at 18 (or 23) all in one piece and they’re decent human beings, you’ve done ok. And that’s what I strive to be…forget the “World’s Best Mom” mug…I want, “Amy Maxwell, World’s Most Okay Mom”.
Check out the rest of Amy’s parenting mistakes in : “The 8 Mistakes of Amy Maxwell”