On Sunday, the three of us had leftover birthday cake for breakfast. Two of us were not wearing pants, and no one had brushed their teeth. One of us scraped frosting off with a fork, and one of us licked it off his fingers.
The old (childless) me would have been wagging her finger, shaking her head, and judging someone like me for poor parenting and bad decisions. The same way she (or I – gosh how long can I talk about my former self in third person, I don’t know) judged her brother and sister-in-law for allowing their daughter to eat chicken nuggets and fries almost all the time, and not being potty trained until she was 4.
When I was expecting my first child, I was a smug know-it-all. Two year old eating crap? Not sitting at the table for meals? Demanding the same food over and over? What’s the big deal? Just offer her what she’s supposed to eat and she’ll eat it when she’s hungry. Three year old not wanting to be diaper-free? Easy, just tell her to go potty because it’s what big girls do. Still crawling into her parents bed every night? No problem, just put her back in her own bed and she’ll stay there.
What is so hard about this parenting thing? Jeez.
I have a child who eats fries for dinner. I still have two children in diapers, although one is already in preschool. I still have one child who sleeps in my bed.
Plans have gone awry and I don’t have the perfect children. I am far from being the perfect parent.
I have been defeated and brought to my knees. I have eaten my words over and over. I have fought and lost many battles.
Do we eat cake for breakfast every day? No. Are we too permissive? I think not. Do my children get away with everything? Hell, no. We do our best to teach them right from wrong. We have routines, bedtimes, meal times, and we do not tolerate screaming, hitting and tantrums.
But. Parenting? Is full of battles; some worth fighting, others, not so much. What I realized is this: the battles I need to fight, the ones that demand my energy and attention, are not the ones I fight with my children. One day, they will be able to pick out their own clothes, and the top will match the bottom. One day, they will eat a normal breakfast, without cajoling. One day, they will go to the bathroom on their own, and wipe their own butts. One day, they will sleep in their own beds in their own rooms until noon. One day, they will get their own snacks, make their own meals, drive themselves to school, do allthethings, grow up and leave us.
That day is not far off.
The battles I need to fight are the ones where I advocate for my children, in school or in the community. I need to fight to protect them from the worse of the bad stuff in this scary world of guns, crime, greed, anger and hatred. I need to fight the evil forces that abound, to ensure that my boys are the good ones, the ones who stand up against bullies, and not be the bully. I have to fight for their voices, to teach them to be strong and speak up, if they are ever in the minority because of their race, religion, sexuality.
So, cake for breakfast on a Sunday? Yes. Why not?
Have you linked up with Elaine and I for Old School Blogging? This month, we’re talking about all things five! The linky is open until July 25.