If I had mother's instinct about other people like I do about my own kid, I could be a psychic. Sadly, I don't, and so instead of telling fortunes, I'll just have to work for a living. Most mothers I know believe they have mother's instinct — that feeling you get when it comes to anything involving your kid. And it's one helpful gift even if sometimes other people might not believe you when your gut "speaks" to you about your child. And then of course, there's the saying that "Mother knows best."
The fact is, moms are assumed to have the answers for our kids in all situations, but what about fathers? Perhaps they haven't been given enough credit for their paternal instincts and parenting abilities. After all, it takes two to make a baby, no? In our generation, fathers have played a more active role in child rearing than ever before. I have many "dad friends" who are incredibly active dads, including my ex-husband. And I have taken careful notice of what these outstanding dads do and snatched a few tips from them that made my "mothering" better. Here's what I learned about mothering from dads!
Moms want the perfect photo and holiday card. The perfect birthday party. All the bells and whistles need to be up and ringing whenever we do something for our kids. We feel if it's not to the nines, it's not good enough. We can't help it; the perfect something is the way we show our kids we love them. A shabby party, photo, or gift just seems like we were being slacker moms.
But dads are typically more casual about these things. If the kids pick their nose in the holiday card photos, it's not a tragedy, it's preciously funny. If the princess character at the birthday party shows up looking like a go-go dancer and has to be sent home, it's not the end of the world. It's life. Dads don't need the fanfare most of the time, and really, do our kids? Every time something didn't go as planned, my ex-husband would say, "Oh well. It's no big deal." There are definitely times that I could benefit from telling myself, "Life goes on. No worries." It puts less pressure on myself and lets me have fun in the moment, despite whatever "tragedy" or issue arises.
The Importance of Being Silly
As a stand-up comedienne, you would think I would always remember how important it is to be silly. I'm the first one to do silly voices with my kid, and there's nothing better than a good fart joke, but when it comes down to routines, I can be hardcore strict. When you're working, busy, and utterly exhausted, it feels crucial to be on a schedule. To get something done RIGHT NOW. To get everything crossed off on the to-do list. To not let the bedtime routine run over because then that means Mom sleeps less than before. But by sticking to the routine and "business first" all the time, I was missing out on using one of my best personal and parental tools: my sense of humor. Getting kids to laugh can break a temper tantrum. Getting kids to laugh can make a crappy chore turn into fun. I had to remember that I am more Mary Poppins than I am a fussbudget. If I lose a few minutes of sleep or if the to-do list has a few unchecked items, oh well! Life goes on. Watching my ex-husband and quite a few guy friends in action reminded me how important a sense of humor can be.
The Art of Being Lazy
I am an active person and don't like to stay home, but my ex does. While I love our playdates and outings, sometimes scheduling too many things for my daughter is a recipe for disaster. In a quest to be the Best Mom Ever after being riddled with divorce guilt, I scheduled too many fun activities. I ended up realizing that I was not only pushing her and myself but also missing out on some good peaceful time with her. Seeing my guy friends post lazy-day Facebook photos and hearing from my daughter's father that they just "hung around today" made me think carefully about the schedule I am keeping for my child and myself. I decided for 2015 to make sure to allow for ample rest . . . but also plenty of fun activities. Too much laziness makes Jill a dull girl!
At the end of the day, I am one of those moms who is constantly evaluating what she is doing with her child and how to make it better. Or in other words, like all of you! I think it's great to be able to look at how other people parent and get a few gems and lessons from them. After all, it takes a village to raise a child, and it couldn't hurt if we moms made more room for many thoughts and opinions in our own child's/children's village.