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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Switching Perspective

Pin It Yesterday was one of those days.

For me, that means I've been coughing for 2 weeks straight and was able to sleep maybe a total of 2 hours at night because I woke repeatedly in various panicked half dream/half awake states and my body refused to cooperate when I attempted to get out of bed in the morning.

I lamely told my kids to pull out the cereal for breakfast and that I'd give them all money for school lunches then went back to sleep.

About 5 minutes before the elementary kids left my 11-year-old came in to report that they had all eaten cereal AND toast, brushed their teeth AND hair and that I could continue to sleep knowing all was taken care of for the day. I thanked him and drifted back to sleep.

I didn't give it a second thought until I went to pick my kids up after school.

My 6th and 4th graders turned out just fine, but when I saw my sweet little 2nd grader approaching the car, I about died.

She had very obviously done her own hair that morning...

Initially I was mortified. Because I have a large family I am self conscious about what others think of my kids appearances and do my best to be sure that none of my kids look neglected or orphaned. I guess I'm trying to avoid the whole stigma of oh, his pants are too short because he only wears hand-me-downs or her hair is always a mess because her mom has no time to get to it with all of the other kids to tend to.

When we got home I decided to talk to her about it. I asked, "Princess, did you do your own hair this morning?" "YES!" she answered, excited. "I did the ponytail all by myself so you could sleep! Isn't that awesome?"

Her response caught me off guard. She was so pleased with herself and what a big girl she was to have taken care of her own hair. She saw this as a gift to me, allowing me more time to rest that morning. What could I do? Besides, I am always trying to foster independence in my children. So I decided to change MY attitude. Was this any worse than allowing my 5-year-old to wear his long-sleeved skeleton pajama top all summer because it made him happy? Not really. And it certainly didn't hurt anyone - unless you count my silly pride.

"That IS awesome," I told her. "And it was so nice to sleep in this morning. Thank you, sweetheart."

"You're welcome!" she answered, beaming, as she skipped down the hall. Then she turned and added, "I love you, Mom!"



Kalei's Best Friend said...

Yep, I've learned to pick my battles...don't be surprised if your little one has started a new trend.. come to think of it, I think I may have seen that hair do in a fashion mag....(no lie)

diane rene said...

it's hard to bite your tongue at those moments and you did better than I would have.

I am a hair FREAK! I cannot handle messy hair ... ever ... even if it is the style. my girls get upset because their hair must look nice (not sticking out all over, not in their faces, pulled back and fresh) even for a soccer game ... my almost 19 year old still asks me to french braid her hair for her college games.

but you are an awesome mom with awesome kids who let you sleep in :) good job, mom!

Anaise said...

That story is simply excellent.

(I worry about how my family appears in public, too. I'm learning how to let go, too.)

Sarah said...

Awwww, sweet! Right about now I'm glad I've got a couple of boys that are happy to have their heads shaved clean and call it "handsome"!

Angela said...

Oh that is so sweet atleast it was just her hair I think I would have died more if my kid had a big stain on their shirt the hair is more understanding

Handsfullmom said...

That is sweet. I feel the same self-conciousness.

: ) Paula said...

Isn't it funny how excitede little girls are about doing their own hair. My 6 year-old daughter went to school one day with a side ponytail (ala Deb from Napoleon Dynamite) and she was literally hopping up and down she was so excited about doing her own hair. I wasn't willing to tell her that a side ponytail is "soo 1980s."

NoSurfGirl said...

here's the thing...

you need to stop caring what people THINK. :)

I learned this lesson in a very excruciating, difficult way when I was a very young mother. And I have never looked back... I like to think of it as the gift my personal tragedy gave me. A complete disregard for the opinions of others, save those whose opinions I actually value :)

don't worry, Gerb. I think the fact that all your kids are happy, healthy, confident, intelligent and capable of making friends is a sign. of something good.

The other day a ward member drove by my house. Sam had escaped my notice and wandered outside in his underpants, in near-frost-producing weather. He was happily playing, and all my other kids were obviously dressed for the weather, but this person still chose to yell at my kids and tell them to "tell your mom to get some clothes on him... it's too cold."

I try to bite my lip and shove my giant shoulder-chip aside when these things happen. I try to think... she was just being nice. She was helping me out. The fact that I have 6 kids age 8 and under, the fact that we rent a dilapidated house, the fact that we saved 4 years for an adoption and wore hand-me-downs and drive a 16-year-old rusty van... none of that had anything to do with someone feeling entitled enough to tell me how to parent.

And mostly I succeed. But there's some serious swallowing going on. ;)

Gerb said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

NSG- You are SO right on with this one. I try my best not to care what people think but it doesn't always work. It's something I am constantly working on in regard to my family. But I just wanted to say that I so appreciate your insight on this.

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