This is hard for me to write. If you’re not a regular reader here then you may not already know that I’m a mother of two. Being a mom of more than one kid it’s hard not to compare the two of them. Mom guilt sets in just typing that, but it’s natural to compare. It’s what we do with that comparison that really defines us so choose wisely.
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Mama, Your Easy Child Needs You More Than You Know
If you’re a mom of more than one child, or even if you’re a mom of one child who has regular play dates and you compare your child to other children you may encounter then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
We compare. We just do.
Consciously we compare which child whines more, we compare how other children around us are dressed, we compare picky eaters to the children who never complain about food. Unconsciously, we may be comparing in other ways. We may even be judging.
If we’re lucky enough to have an actual conversation out in the wild with another mother then we may slide in questions of our own self-doubt shrouded with real interest and curiosity. “How does your child sleep now?” “Will your child eat meat?” “Does little Johnny play well with others or is he constantly attached to your leg afraid to wander too far?”
We compare because we doubt ourselves. We wonder how our child measures up to her peers, but at the end of the day when we come home those comparisons that may make us feel a little better about our own motherhood develop into judgements that harm our relationships and potential friendships with other moms. So just stop.
I hope you have a good baby!
The good baby saga begins in pregnancy with the phrase, “Hopefully you’ll have a “good” baby!” What does that even mean, y’all? When well intentioned loved ones utter the phrase, I believe what they are hoping for us is a child that sleeps through the night, rarely cries unless they really need something we aren’t giving them, or a baby that travels well. All good things. Well meaning when said by trusted friends.
I have one of those kids.
I also have a difficult kid.
After my second child was born I struggled with PPD which only added to the difficulty of my motherhood at the time. The postpartum depression passed as most hard times do, but the routines of living through it stuck, and the personality of my sour patch kid child hasn’t changed. Not. One. Little. Bit. Just more kisses and hugs and giggles to sooth those rough times.
I realized it during the harder times, but I was in survival mode. Literally fighting each day to survive my life without snapping and running away to a warm beach somewhere. I realized last week that those “good babies” generally grow up to be good kids. Good kids who rarely complain about the plans you make, rarely complain about what you’ve made for dinner, rarely complain about bedtime, rarely fight back when you discipline them for misbehavior. These kids will sit and play an educational game on the iPad while you nurse the new colicky baby all day long just to survive. Good kids.
If you’re in survival mama mode then you probably thank God every day for giving you a kid like this. You can’t imagine life with two sour patch kids, or worse, MORE than two!
Motherhood is hard. I get it. Boy, do I get it. If it ever gets easy then you probably aren’t doing something right. Seriously.
Good kids need your attention, mom.
What I realized about these good babies who grow up to be good kids is that they actually need you more than they let on, mama. Especially if they have a sibling. These kids are your amazing, go-with-the-flow kids. They accept your decisions as best as any kid will, and they fly under the discipline radar so they (unfortunately) aren’t getting the attention that bad behavior would earn them.
Mama, you need to set aside time to spend with your good kid where you focus only on them. Time without electronics distracting either of you. Put your phone on airplane mode and the iPad far out of reach. Time when you can have long heart-to-heart conversations with each other. Time to read that extra book that she rarely gets a ‘yes’ from you to read. Schedule the time and don’t stand up your kid for these dates.
Your good kid won’t throw their dinner plate in the floor when she’s tired and doesn’t want to eat veggies tonight. She may quietly mention that her favorite food is macaroni and cheese and she wishes that you’d made that instead, but she won’t make a big deal about it. Listen to these small utterings, mama.
Tomorrow make her that Mac and Cheese and show her you were listening and that she matters. Show her that just because she doesn’t act out doesn’t mean that she isn’t just as important. Show her that she is just as worthy of your love and attention.
Your good kid may mention that the shoes that match her new outfit aren’t her favorite. She’ll wear what you’ve chosen, but pause before you slide them on. Listen.
Let her choose the shoes she’d rather wear. It’ll only take a few extra minutes, and let’s be honest, your sour patch kid is probably gonna do something crazy that costs you an extra 10 minutes no matter what you do right. Let her have a moment where she knows she’s heard by you.
Your good kid may sleep through the night 99% of the time. Your sour patch kid may fight sleep every. single. night. I feel you on such a deep level if this is your life. When your good kid wakes up that 1% of the time at 3AM and begs to sleep in your already crowded bed, let her.
Yes, you could go tuck her back into her bed by herself and she’d probably go right back to sleep, but don’t do it, mama! Give her that extra bit of love. You’re already going to have interrupted sleep because of Sour Patch Kid kicking you in the ribs all night. Let her squeeze in the middle and know she’s just as special. Just as loved. Show her through your love through actions.
Your love is BIG, mama. I know you love each of your children just the same, but she’s little. She only sees little brother getting held all day and getting his way more than her. She sees him getting a PB & J when he won’t eat the healthy dinner you’ve slaved over. She knows he sneaks into your bed every night long after she’s been asleep for hours. She doesn’t understand yet that motherhood is hard and that you are having a difficult day, or week, or season of life. She has to see it.
So show her.
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