Saturday, October 11, 2014

Birth Orders and Forgotten Assignments.

My first child is, as I call him, "the product of all my perfect parenting."  This is obviously not the case because I've never parented perfectly.  There is no such animal.

My first child lived on a schedule.  He ate all the baby foods and I even made some from scratch.  He was clean (still is), his clothes matched and he was taught his manners every waking hour of every day.  I taught him the alphabet when he was two and we practiced writing for an hour every day when he was four.  We watched holiday movies and read holiday books and did holiday crafts.  

What I'm saying is that I put a lot of effort into parenting him.  I still do. Except these days all my efforts are spread thin over four kids.  And when I look back at how wonderfully I tried to parent my oldest, I see how tough he had it as well.

All of my energy went to him.  He was the sole focus.

We were much harder on him than we are on our fourth.  Things that I don't worry about now I worried about then, and I can think of many instances when I wish I just let something go.  I fretted about him making his bed every morning and reading every night before bed.  He was in bed on time and there was very little flexibility when it came to manners and obedience.

Fast forward three kids.  My youngest gets in bed a half hour before my three older kids.  Sometimes she falls asleep on the couch next to me as we watch The Voice.  Meals are on the go or eaten before practice four nights a week.  Manners still matter (x4 kids) and homework is a must.  But I've learned that the kids are okay if they eat a donut for breakfast.  They can be tardy for school.  Every day?  No.  But once or twice a year when they (or I) need extra sleep?  Yes.  Life goes on.

My oldest is an incredibly responsible kid.  He is an independent student and if I need him ready at 5pm he is ready at 5pm.  Usually he's ready at 4:30.  He is a fabulous example for my younger kids.  My third child has forgotten homework twice at school this year and he went to lunch this week and left his lunchbox in his classroom.

Oh, and he never handed in his picture form on picture day.  I emptied his folder that night asking about how he smiled and there it was, my check and the background selection staring me right in the face.

I would have crumbled if this happened with my oldest.  If all of this happened in the same month like it just did with my third I would have sworn we needed an intervention.  But these days we handle it and move on.  And just as my oldest is super responsible my youngest two kids are super adaptable.  My second is more like my oldest, with more of a desire to be social and a habit of giggling.  My efforts are spread over four kids and they get everything I can give.  I pour everything I have into my babies, and the chips fall where they fall.

Sometimes they have to wait an extra few minutes at pickup but it's good for them.  Life is messy, and at our house they're learning it firsthand.

We do the best we can as parents.  Most importantly we do the best we can in the circumstances we're in at any given moment.  We're not perfect and our kids aren't perfect.  Our kids are products of their environment and as long as that environment oozes love and support they'll survive.

They'll survive if their pants are too short, their bangs are too long and even if they forget to hand in picture forms.

It's a rocky ride, and I've learned the more kids you have and the more activities they're involved in the less the little stuff matters.  It's much easier to prioritize.

It's a blessing.  Matching socks and spotless floors are so overrated.  With my oldest on the right path I'm confident my next three will follow suit.  Yes they'll have more tardies and forget one or two assignments, but at the end of the day we have what matters.  And I've learned to drink it in and just breathe.

Most of the time anyway.

Happy Sunday!

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