I had the strangest train of thought today. I was in the kitchen doing the dishes and musing over the conversations that went on this morning. It's a snow day and we've been up watching the weather and school closing list since pretty early, so there've been several conversations to muse over.
My oldest spud is not one to try new things. Or new foods. Or new ways of eating old foods. Or anything new in general. He's recently been living on the edge by eating his breakfast cereal with a spoon and milk, rather than eating it dry, with his hands, and drinking milk separately. This is a departure for him, and not a small one. I told him after breakfast today, that I was proud of him for trying a new way of eating his cereal, since I knew that it was hard for him to try new things. It was funny, he lit up like a Christmas tree. Just from the few simple words I said. That I was proud of him, and that I understood something about him.
As I was doing the dishes, I don't know why I had this thought, but it occurred to me that in March it will be 5 years that my dad has been gone. He died when the littlest spud was a tiny baby and I was still on meds for postpartum depression. My father, for better or for worse, is the most significant influence on my parenting. My sister runs a very close second. But they are polar opposites. My sister taught me how to love unconditionally and without limits, and how to have fun with my kids. My dad, well, let's just leave it with, he taught me what not to do, how not to be. And in that bass-ackwards way, he had a big role in shaping the mom I am. The mom who tells her kid that she's proud of him over something as silly as how he eats his cereal.
My sister has always told me, love them beyond reason, and praise them to the skies when they've earned it, but don't be afraid to scold and even yell when they've earned that. Speak to them with respect, apologize to them when you screw up, and let them know you understand who they are. And love them. Then love them some more. My dad actually, literally, rolled his eyes at me one day when I told him that some days all I did was sit on the couch with my first newborn baby, and hold him, because I was so in awe of him, and I didn't want to put him down.
I am by no means an expert, or a perfect mom who handles every situation well. I yell far more than I would like to admit, and I get impatient far more than I wish I did. I can be sarcastic, yes, even to an almost-ten-year-old, and sometimes I don't listen as well as I expect them to.
But I also tell them I'm proud of them. And I tell them I love them, many times each day. I hope, at the end of the day, it all balances out.