The best part about summer is simply being around my children, getting to know them better, who they are, what makes them "tick" and considering my parenting style in relation to them, as individuals.
Like personalities, I find parenting styles intriguing. So many factors influence the making of my mothering style. My peronal experiences, their personality, BJ's style, my parent's style.... Those are just a couple of the influences of which I'm cognizant.
I oscillate between the extremes of:
Are my expectations too high? or Am I too hard on my kids?
Am I providing and facilitating enough experiences for Anna Cate? or Do I over-entertain her? Do I schlepp Molly around too much? Am I considerate of her place as a toddler?
Am I raising responsible people? or Am I rushing their childhood away?
The list goes on of questions I ask myself, ones that I ponder
The lazy summer days at the pool have provided me some metaphors for considering my mothering.
While I do not pass judgement on other positions on this, for my kids, I'm anti-floaty for several reasons. In addition to the devices giving the child a false sense of security, and my wanting them to develop a healthy fear of the water, because I'm so scattered brained. I don't want to get accustomed to trusting them until they can actually swim. I don't want to get used to relaxing around a pool because they are in the floaties and then one day, them not have them on and my brain not to turned on the danger.
So I've been spending a lot of time with Molly in the pool. I really considered letting her do the floaty thing, but I had an "aha" moment about my parenting. I want them to get support from me or from themselves. I want to be honest with them, for them to understand danger and learn to over come it. In some ways it would be nice to sit back on a lounge chair as Molly swam about with the floaties but being near her in the water has been special.
Also, with Anna Cate I've had a couple encounters that have made me really question my values and how I want to tread with her. She is so tender and sweet yet stubborn and unwaivering. One facet of her personality is that she is keenly aware of others, which is often clearly a divine gift of hers as well as a blessing to others. She has the ability to notice, connect to and care for people of all ages in a vain quite advanced for her young soul. A challenge, though, is that I find her wanting to "fit in".... to be like others. I get that; I'm the same way but at 36 I'm farther along this journey.
A few days ago, we were at the pool and Anna Cate was sad that there were no kids there to play with her. She bemoaned that no one was there to play with her, that Molly didn't feel comfortable jumping to her. I saw that she sort of grabs at Molly and that is why Molly won't jump to her.
Then a few girls came and she rushed to them. One child preferred playing with Molly, which hurt Anna Cate's feelings. The other girl had friends of her own to play with. I heard Anna Cate say, "do you want to play with me?" And a little girl said, "No." While it broke my heart, a few minutes later I tried to engage all of them in a game of diving for sticks, but when they were supposed to keep their eyes shut while I threw, Anna Cate started swimming toward the sticks early (cheating). I tried to talk to her about this when we got home. I was honest with her, about how some people need space and that she gets in people's faces sometimes. I distinctly remember my father telling me the same thing at the same age and told her so. I also told her that some people don't like me and named a couple people I suspect aren't exactly crazy about me whom she knows. I want her to know I'm comfortable with who I am, the body and life I have because I want that for her. I didn't sugar coat it when she said they don't like her. I said, that may be true and this is probably why but who cares? YOU are a fabulous, beautiful little girl whom many people adore.
The next morning we discussed it further and I told her we would not go back to pool if she was going to complain if friends weren't there, that I loved her more than anything in the world but it is a lot of work for me to pack lunch, toys, towels, sunscreen appliations and I want her to enjoy the experience. She smiled sweetly and then went to get her journal.
This child expressed compassion, confidence and love. Just like I don't have to worry or watch her very closely at the pool because she never wore floaties and learned to swim at an early age, I believe in my heart and soul, she can confidently swim through life with that same confidence and strength.
I know she might struggle with hurt feelings and insecurities along this journey, but her gifts will shine brighter than her struggles. I hope the flaws in my parenting style are diminished along the way because she is getting what is important.
"I will be more happy with myself" --Anna Cate King, age 6