Parent camps. We love to set up in one or another. Some of us try out certain spots, get comfy and set up permanent dwelling spaces. Others set up for a while and decide to move on as they outgrow the space.
I’m part of the parenting camp that brings all the gear. You know the one. We have the super wide, ultra prepared, loaded- with- all- the- amenities mobile home on wheels. I am camped out and ready. Have a need? I have an item. Have a behavioral issue? I have what I think is a solution. Sass, bully another, talk back, disobey- there will be a consequence. Succeed at something, use good manners, clean up after yourself, do something kind or thoughtful- I will be there to celebrate and lavish praise. Problem- meet answer. My camp is called the “hard-ass” camp by some. Rigid. Inflexible. Controlling. These are all words I’ve heard about my camp. I’m okay with that. I know I’m not perfect, so I certainly have no illusion that the parenting method I’ve chosen is perfect.
Being from this particular parenting camp can be exhausting. We thrive on consistency, follow through, and a host of other well-intentioned ethics. As a parent in this camp there are some things you never say, and certainly, never accept. Of these things is the foreign and silly idea known as going with the flow. Of utmost danger is the crazy practice known as taking the path of least resistance. Least resistance? That’s the “lazy” parent camp. For the people with no backbone. You know- the ones raising future delinquents.
Well, tonight was truly “one of those nights”, and you know what? I chose the path of least resistance. For a moment I questioned the integrity of my decision, even chastised myself. But the last few weeks have been very challenging. We’ve had a ton of Doctor’s appointments, done a ridiculous amount of waiting around in tiny office spaces, and have experienced a general increase in stress. To top things off, the boys have gained some very new freedoms with potty training; as well as an increase in personal responsibilities and mama expectations. My babies are no longer babies, and we’re all feeling it right now.
It’s no wonder that on this particular night, bedtime became a crescendo of protest from my children and sighs of absolute exhaustion from me. Could I fight it out with my 3-year-old and make him stay in his dark room just as I do every night? Sure. Could I show him who has authority by not caving into his cries and perceived demands? Absolutely. I may have even had a little more “me time” with my iPad or “adult time” with my husband (all incredibly important things I might add). But tonight I chose differently. Tonight I sent my husband down to his music studio with a glass of Whisky and told him I’d handle things.
A look of shock and amazement crossed my children’s faces as I opened the doors to their dark rooms and turned on the lights. I told them I would bring them snacks, drinks, and books. Naaman told me I looked beautiful and that he wanted to spend more time with me. Isaac said what a great day this truly was. I chatted with each of my sons and reminded myself that this was precious chatter that would fade soon enough. You could say I set aside my hard-ass mama rule book and went off-roading a bit. I like to say that I snuck into the other camp after dark. I met a boy. His name was flexibility, and we stole a kiss under the starry sky. It was freeing, memorable and full of possibility.
I left my camp in the interest of sanity and serenity, and I made some precious memories that night. It’s not that I plan to move anytime soon, but it’s nice to visit the other side for a different perspective and view from time to time.