My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Things I Would Do Different If I Was Parenting Now

What would I do differently if I was parenting now? Even the brief glimpse of my life that you get on my blog would convince you that I'm still very much in the thick of parenting... so when I say "if I was parenting now", what I mean is if I was starting over with a brand new person. These ones that I'm parenting now are already too far down the road messed up for me to fix things... just kidding... they're pretty amazing human beings and I think, given the resources I had, I did a pretty darn good job with them. All that being said... as a Monday morning quarterback... looking at THEIR youth in the rear view mirror, there are things I would do differently.

1. They would never play contact sports. We did it all... soccer, football, baseball... even a season or two of basketball... and a lot of that was a huge contributor to who they are as human beings today. Cody was my athlete. I always assume everyone knows that but many of you weren't around for that time of my life. He genuinely loved playing sports and was really good at many things. He was small for his age. He didn't really get his growth spurt until he married into Marquee's family. It might have something to do with him getting fed really good food once he married Marquee but have you seen her? She's a tiny little sample of a person. Anyways... football especially was a really rough game and so much more dangerous than I really understood at that time in my life. Cody played baseball all the way through high school but he gave up football in middle school because he was just too small and kept getting hurt. Ryan had bad asthma and didn't have the lungs/interest in playing sports much past... *bad mother alert* I can't even remember when he stopped playing sports, to be quite honest. Austin played a few seasons of baseball, football and even soccer but he didn't care for any of it ever. Now all that being said... the one really bad injury any of them got playing sports was the concussion Cody got when he was playing baseball against a really aggressive team. He took a knee to the head while pitching... someone was sliding into home and he was trying to tag them out and the kid came in with his knee up. Cody is the one of mine that suffers the most head and neck pain as an adult and I think it has a lot to do with sports. And a little to do with him driving the car into the house when he was 15 but that's another story...

2. Another thing I would do differently if I was starting over again as a parent is pay more attention to nutrition. I fed my kids enough food and I think... I'm pretty sure... I gave them a healthy appreciation for food. They're good cooks... two of them are really good cooks (I'll never say which two!). They are adventurous eaters. But I wish I had taught them more about nutrition. I didn't KNOW as much about nutrition when they were young and what I've learned I've passed on. I'm certainly more concerned with what I feed my grandchildren... margarine will never pass their lips in my presence! I just wish I could have been more consistent with eating for good health instead of "getting something in their belly before we have to be at ball practice/dance class/etc".

3. I would have traveled more with them. Obviously, single parenting for a large part of their childhoods made it difficult for me to afford to travel but still... I really regret not having made those memories with them. It's not that we never went anywhere... and we did make a lot of great memories just in our basic, every day life. But I wish I had those "Disney World" moments to look back on. I tell them now, that even if it stretches their budget, travel as much as you can when you're young. I always thought I would travel once my nest was empty but honestly... by the time they were old enough for me to just jet off wherever I wanted I was no longer healthy enough to enjoy travel. They did have a lot of opportunities in our "village" to travel. Cody went to Detroit with his friend George one Summer. Ryan traveled all over the place with a friend of mine who had an organ business. That's how Ryan ended up in New Orleans two days before Katrina hit when he was only 18. Austin had one Summer in Florida with his dad but for the most part, we were homebodies.

4. We would have attended church more. We went. We were quite steadily involved for the first part of their lives but once I was a single, full time working mom and they had tons of extra-curricular activities, a lot of times it was hard to squeeze out more energy to attend church 2 or 3 times a week (as I did growing up). I don't feel like I gave them as much of a spiritual foundation as my parents gave me and I regret that. Life is hard. I won't always be here. I want them to have a closer relationship to God and I want to know that my grandchildren have that same spiritual connection. It was hard to go after I was divorced from their dad. I felt... left out... odd... like a woman with a scarlet A. When Austin and I moved up here to White County after we left Florida we did attend church pretty regularly at first. Then my health began to decline and I became discouraged. SO many times I would feel so alone in church. People were lovely to me... I made a lot of friends at church... but there were many gaps in time where I just felt odd/out of place/alone/uncoupled because I was surrounded by families and I was just a mom with a nearly grown son who didn't want to hang out with me. Now I'm embarrassed because I feel like people can't really know and appreciate my my disability and I just look like a major slacker because I am "home-churched". Tasha takes Cosette to her church and I'm glad for that. I want my babies to know Jesus and to understand the faith of our family and have that as a rock to build their lives on.

5. If I had it to do over, I would have become more involved in the things that interest my children... those video games they play..... I wish I had sat with them and watched them play and been able to conversate with them about the challenges in their favorite game. I wish I had read the Harry Potter books with them and seen the movies with them. I would have liked to have more time to volunteer in their schools and gone on more field trips. My job didn't allow room for a lot of that. We did have a lot of guys hanging around out house while my kids were growing up... I've got at least a half dozen guys who would greet me as "MoM!" - who are not my birth children and it means the world to me. I barely felt I had enough of me to go around to my own natural born but yet you just can't help but mother them when they're in your house.

I'd love to hear what things you would do differently if you were starting over as a new parent... I always joke that people do their best parenting before they have children. Now lately I think it's more likely that you do much better parenting as a grandparent with some time and experience under your belt. The hard part is not being Granny Buttinski and letting your kids figure out what kind of parents they want to be!

Yesterday I spent the day watching football and trying to get comfortable (never happened). This morning I woke up still feeling as miserable as the day before and decided to just go back to sleep. I never do this but today... I did. I slept until almost 9am and the extra sleep helped. I'm still in quite a bit of pain and can't decide if it's just my "new normal" or if it's part of some sort of flare that will get better but pain definitely takes a toll on your energy level. I took Austin to work and went inside the store to pick up a few things. I ran into the lady that runs the Amish bakery... which isn't really Amish. Can't go anywhere without seeing someone you know around here!

Once I got to our neighborhood a little dog ran out in front of my car. I stopped in time but the dog wouldn't move from in front of the car. He was followed by a little boy of maybe 7 years old who was red faced and in tears trying to catch the little dog. I asked if he needed help and he said yes. I opened the car door and the dog jumped in my arms. I didn't want to ask the little boy to get in the car because it's never a good idea for a child to get the idea that it's ok to get in a stranger's car. Obviously I wouldn't harm the child but I didn't want him to get the impression that anyone else would be ok because I was ok. I rolled up the windows and locked up my car and started to walk him home holding the dog for him. I soon realized that he lived way up a steep hill and there was no way I could walk that far, especially holding a dog. I asked how much further and he said it was a long way still. He said, "I'm pretty sure I can hold him" and since the boy and the dog had both calmed down quite a bit, I handed the dog to him. As I got to my car I noticed someone had met him on the road and was coming to help so I feel certain that they made it home ok. What drama for our little neighborhood on a Sunday morning!

My candles are burning.... I'm watching a Call The Midwife marathon on PBS. I'm having a very chilled Sunday. Tomorrow I go to the pain doctor and I've got to get Austin in to see a dentist because he broke a tooth... better take advantage of the break today. Hope your weekend is going well! Love and hugs, y'all!