Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Momma's Change the World

Brooklyn over at This Little Blonde asked me to write on how I could change the world. I thought about it for awhile, and then it hit me...

Maybe it's because I am a mom, but I totally think we mothers can and do change the world.

I mean, we create and raise a full-fledged, self-sufficient (hopefully) HUMANS.

We are what shape our children. Our actions and reactions to them can impact them in ways we can't even begin to imagine. What we teach them, and how we treat them, is going to determine what kind of person they become.

Talk about pressure!

I hope that I am the kind of mother who Gracie will look up to and respect. I hope that I raise her in a way that enables her to be an emotionally and physically stable member of society. But it's overwhelming to think that every decision you make for them can have long lasting effects.

As moms, we just don't want to screw them up.

No joke, I prayed for the first three months of Gracie's life: "Please don't let me screw her up." I am sure as she gets older, that prayer will be said  a lot more. 

She was SO tired this day. SO. TIRED. 

But everything depends on your perspective.

You have to want to help your child be the best they can be. I know some will scoff at that, because who doesn't want their child to the best? But what I mean that you have to want it with your entire being. That want has to be at the forefront of your mind. You have to do what you can, whatever it is you can, to accomplish that.

I sometimes can't go to sleep because I have ideas on what to do to help Gracie's development. I read all the literature I can get ahold of to help me learn different techniques for raising her in the way I think is best for our family. I have a book chuck-full of notes. I try to stay on top of things to give Grace the best chance in life that I can. 

I am not gonna tell you moms out there how to raise your children into awesome, Ghandi-type adults--especially since my baby is but 13 months old. Heck, I'm not gonna tell you have to raise your children period.

I don't know the demons of a teenager and I don't know the demons of 5 year olds. I know the demons of 13 month olds. 

But what I do know is how you how to be satisfied with yourself as a mother, or at least for the most part and how to make the most of your time with your children.

Here are the three things that have made a HUGE difference in how I feel as a mother and my relationship with my daughter.

The #1 thing that has made such a difference in my life, is that I stopped feeling guilty about how I parented during the day. 

I felt guilty when Gracie was sick: I shouldn't have brought her to church, I knew Hand Foot & Mouth was going around Monterey. The chances of someone at church having it...gosh dang it Tanika, this is your fault! 

I felt guilty when Gracie got hurt: Gosh dang it Tanika, why didn't you teach Gracie to walk better so she wouldn't fall and do some weird summersault into the wall? You stink, Tanika.

I felt guilty all the time

All this guilt can totally crush you. 

It would seriously debilitate me being able to handle even the smallest situations and I was in the crazy worst moods. 

One day, I just stopped.

I knew I had to. For my sake, for Daniel's sake and most important, for Gracie's sake. I just couldn't be the mother she deserved, or the mother I deserved to be, with all the guilt on my shoulders. 

I started taking value in the minutia of the day. I stopped freaking out about the bad days and started relishing in them a bit more. Now, the days where I have bite marks on my shoulder, spaghetti in my hair, and puke down my shirt--are the days I am usually most proud of. I was a mother that day. I survived that day! I am not gonna b.s. you--while I am still proud of those days, those days suck a lot and I would be okay if they never happened.

If all we did was survive the day; meaning the laundry didn't get done, we didn't do anything fun and I am still in my pj's, I don't feel bad. 

The #2 thing that has honestly changed the way I mother is this rule:

If it won't kill, mame, or injure her--let them do it. 

I have expanded that to

If it won't kill, mame, injure or cost more than you have to replace--let them do it.

Gracie gets a lot of joy of taking tissues out of boxes. It only costs about a dollar to replace the box and it makes Gracie ridiculously happy. Now, I don't give them to her to play with, but if she has taken a box and taken all the tissues out, instead of getting mad, I take pictures and then pile all the tissues on her head or blow them in the air for her to catch. They can always be shoved back in the box and used later. 

She also likes to play on my laptop. Because my laptop is a zillion years old and is mainly used to pictures and blogging, I have no problems letting her play with it. Monitored of course. 

She enjoys seeing what happens when she pushes buttons. I think it's good for her motor skills and her cause/effect thinking. 

I don't let her play too long because I don't want it to hurt her eyes or make her a zombie, but I do let her play with it. 

Girl loves "helping" me put away her laundry. This day I had folded a ton of her clothes and it had taken me awhile. I neglected it for a few weeks days. I honestly and truly didn't get mad and I was so friggin' proud of myself. 

I thought it was so cute how proud she was and how excited she was. I am more careful of her clothes when I just want to get everything done, but sometimes I do let her "help." How can I refuse that smile? 

None of these things will hurt her, but all three of these things are events I have seen other children get yelled at, spanked or put in time out for. 

I want Gracie to remember me and know me for fueling her joy, not stifling it or punishing her for it. I definitely don't want her to be afraid of me or have her remember me as yelling at her.  Of course, there are limits, as there are with everything, but why not just let them play with tissues? 

The #3 thing--enjoy & be present for the time you have. 

I don't know about you moms, but I blinked and Grace turned one. I wish that was a big exaggeration, but honestly, where in the heck did that year go? 

One of the biggest things that I think inhibits us from truly relishing in those moments is technology. We aren't really present for them. 

I am usually attached at the hip to my phone, but now I try really hard to not have it near me when I am playing with Gracie. 

I don't ever want her to think I am not paying attention to something she thinks is funny or important. I imagine that would be lonely even for a 1 year old. 

No kid should ever feel like they come second to Facebook. 

I take a ton of pictures of her when we play, but I try to let her "help" with that so she is involved with it and has fun. 

I end up with pictures like this. 
I also try not to watch movies unless it's with her and something she enjoys or will learn from. She loves Tinkerbell and when she is crabby it is guaranteed to make her happy. However, I try not to let movies parent her. Meaning, movies aren't my babysitter. Sure she watches movies, but I try to make sure that she never really watches them. We read a book or play while it's on in the background or we will get a big fuzzy blanket and take a nap. I want her to know that when I can, I am at her disposal and I want to be with her.

I also try to "listen" to her talk. I mean, I know she just babbles because she's figuring out how to talk, but sometimes I can tell she is trying to relay something to me, and while I don't understand it, I try to act like I am listening. I can totally tell she feels better when I talk back to her. 

Hopefully, when she gets older, the practice of putting her first and showing that I want to be there with her will allow her and I to have a close relationship where she trusts me and knows that I love her more than air and definitely more than the internet. 

I hope all these things will help me to raise Gracie to be the kind of person who says 'please' and 'thank you'; who helps out those less fortunate without being asked or made to; who loves with her whole heart; who doesn't hate; who knows and loves her Savior, Jesus Christ; who is responsible and self-sufficient; who opens doors for the elderly; who has a love and value for education; and who in turn, becomes a good mom and just a good person. (And who won't put me in a home when I am old and in depends...)

Time will tell if I accomplish my goals for Grace. I have a long way to go and I know it isn't gonna be easy. I mean, she will eventually be a dreaded...teenager. *gulp*

And I don't mean for this to sound like I am the best mom to a one year old. I know I am not. It's hard to remain calm when Gracie smacks me in the eye and it hurts. It's hard to try to talk logic to a 13 month old who thinks throwing her food is funny. It's hard to not lose my mind on the days where Gracie screams 80% of the day. Being a mother is hard. 

Hopefully though, in the end, it will all pay off. I have faith that if I put in the work now, she will be the kind of person I can hold up as stock to God. The kind of person I can tell the angels: "Hey, she's my daughter." and no one asks any questions and justs lets me in the gates. 

If I achieve nothing else but her being a good person, I know I will have made a difference. I will know I have changed the world. 

Don't you think that the world could use a few more good people?


  1. I remember and LOVE this guest post. Mother's make a HUGE difference in the world because you completely influence a life!

  2. I think all of these are such wonderful tips. I'm not a mother, but I can really see a difference in the lives of kids whos mothers do these things. Especially the guilt one.


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