“You’re such a calm mother. You don’t get all stressed out about your kids.”
Hmm, I had to think that over.
Was that a compliment or an insult? Does that mean I let my kids get away with whatever they want? Or does it mean I’m flexible?
I wasn’t sure. But it did leave me wondering, what type of mother am I, anyway?
Did I choose to be a certain way, or did my kids choose it for me?
Am I the mother I dreamed of being, or the mother my kids dream of having?
I tried to think back to the mother I dreamed of being, the one I imagined before I met my adorable, mischievous, fun loving, energetic clan.
I thought about the socks. Yes, socks. They play a big role in my transition from the mother of my dreams, to the mother of my kids’ dreams.
I love when kids have socks and shirts that match. I love turquoise socks that match a turquoise tshirt of a little two year old; bright yellow socks that match perfectly with a three year old’s top. Whatever the color, I always had a thing for anything but black and white; I just liked it. And I knew how I’d dress my kids; I had all the colors for all the outfits. It just looked so neat and sharp.
And then I was blessed with kids. My oldest started walking. He got shoes. Hooray, now for sure the socks won’t fall off!
Apparently he didn’t like socks. And he would take them off and go barefoot whenever possible. And the oldest sure sets the tone for the rest of the kids.
My kids love to go barefoot.
The mother of my dreams despises when kids are barefoot; to me it looks like they belong in a third world country. It looks unkempt. Dirty. After all, I’m a city girl. We don’t go barefoot.
The kids got older. They still like to go barefoot. And as soon as we arrive anywhere, most of them have their socks and shoes off. There’s not a house we visit that doesn’t have a souvenir of our stay – a sock in some random size, found under the couch.
And the van. On my most recent cleaning, I found 7 single socks. Of course the rule is you must take your shoes and socks out of the van with you. But when I’m holding the baby in one hand, four bags in the other, trying to get my kids out before they detour to the front seat to test the horn…well, I’m not always remembering to remind them. And in the excitement of coming home, the socks stay behind.
And I realized my kids gave me a choice. Will you be the mother of your dreams or the mother of our dreams? Will you force us to be the way you like, or will you let us be the way we like? Will we have the talents that you want, or the talents that we want?
And sometimes it’s the former, and sometimes it’s the latter. I draw the line at safety!
They give me choices all day long.
But the socks have taught me a lesson.
I still don’t go in the backyard barefoot. But they can go.
I still can’t handle walking on a kitchen tile floor barefoot. But they can like it.
And they will have dirty feet. And I will be the mother of their dreams, who loves them more than silly mismatched socks.
So I simplified. Each child has a different color sock. Neutral colors that match everything. 3 and 4 year old have beige, 6 year old has brown etc They have lots of their color. And if one goes missing, it doesn’t drive me crazy because they all match up with each other. I look for ways to eliminate the stress. There’s a sock bucket in the garage so they can put their socks in there before they get lost in the unknown corners of the house. And a sock drawer in the laundry room where everyone can find their new socks.
And if letting go of the mother of my dreams is the solution, well then that’s the way I choose to go.
Although I still do sneak in a few argyle socks for Shabbos, at my own risk. And yesterday we were all in the car, ready to roll. My three year old was so proud, strapped in to his seat by himself and announced he even put on his socks and shoes. I glanced over my shoulder. One black and red argyle; one beige. I smiled.
Boy have I come a long way!
And when I see the kids pushing the couch across the room, a big no-no of the mother of my dreams, I take a deep breath. They’re giving me a choice. They know what’s ok and what’s not. But they’re challenging me; will I “play along:” and lose it or will I ignore it and not give them the negative attention?
In the mother of my dreams, I didn’t imagine a houseful of boys. I didn’t know what roughhousing really was. I didn’t know how high boys like to climb. I didn’t know what the boys’ version of fun was.
My kids have taught me. They’ve trained me.
And I discovered that you can’t necessarily have both ways and they don’t always overlap; I need to make choices.
Will I be the mother of my dreams, or the mother of my kids’ dreams?
No, I didn’t choose what type of mom I’d be. My kids did.
They made me the mother that I am. And they continue to do that every single day.
And the truth is, their version of the dream mom is way more realistic and practical than mine.