Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2015 Goal #5 - Parenting

This the second to last post in a series about my 2015 goals. Here's the initial post about dreaming & goal-making. Here are the other categories I've made goals in: spiritual, physical, intellectual, social, financial, career.  

I've thought a lot about parenting goals. I spend most of my waking (and some of my sleeping) hours parenting. I mean, in one sense, if you have kids, you're always a parent. And whether or not you are home full time with your kids, you are obviously still parenting. a LOT. Being a parent is a big deal. It's a lot of responsibility. But by "spend most of my waking hours parenting," I mean taking care of the day-to-day stuff - basic needs, discipline, playing, reading, ABCs, etc...

Parenting (and marriage) goals feel harder than the others to narrow down to one measurable goal for the year. I could make a goal like "read to my kids for 20 minutes a day," and that'd be good. But that small thing would be part of a bigger-picture strategy. Every small goal that came to mind seemed insufficient. I wrote down a few. Having small goals for the year that contribute to the big picture overall was my intention at the outset. Keep it simple. Make goals that are measurable in order to reach the dreams that are long-term and maybe more abstract.  

But, again, parenting and marriage feel different. 
I like rules and lists and things that are simple and make sense. Abstract doesn't really do it for me. So, it is very reluctantly that I've made my 2015 parenting goal a little bit more abstract and less measurable. 

Be more engaged with my kids. 

How do you measure that? 
How do you bullet point that or break it down into one thing to do each year until the birdies leave?

You don't. 

The hyper-scheduling-color-coded-planner-loving-rule-making legalist within me is having a hard time with this. Maybe I should work on that?

Anyway, being more engaged with my kids overall is primarily a frame of mind that plays out practically in little things during the day to day.

The frame of mind is this: raising kids is what I've been called to do. Our kids have been given to us and entrusted to us. For a few short years, parents basically dictate everything. Ideally, after the first couple years, your kids gradually increase in freedom & decision making until they leave home (sometime around 18 or so). So for these first few years especially, engaged with and prioritizing my kids is the name of the game. My kids are not in my way of doing other things.

This concept has been really hard for me. I made the transition to full time stay at home mom when Addie was 8 months and we moved to Boston, and this whole "my kids aren't in my way" thing was (and still is sometimes) one of the hardest things for me to get. I had idealized mommy-hood. I thought I knew that it would be somewhat hard and tiring to be a stay at home mom, but I mostly figured it'd be fun. You know, pinterest crafts, library adventures, playing at the park, organizing and keeping things clean, prepping delicious meals, and whatever else I wanted to do.

Pinterest forgot to tell me that my toddler would de-shelve and dishevel any perfectly organized linen closet in seconds. Or that they actually don't care about playing with toys, they only want to be held and sitting at your feet every waking second. I didn't know I would lose all sense of personal space...I can't remember the last time I went to the bathroom unaccompanied by minors. I could go on, but here's what it comes down to - I didn't know what I wanted to do would take a back seat to my kids' needs.

If I plan to leave at 10:00 to meet a friend and her kids for the park, inevitably I go to wake my child from a nap at 9:50 only to find her covered in and eating her own poop, and so we're late. (true story) But it's okay; my friend was late too because they had tantrums and time-outs over which colored shoes to wear on the way out the door.

If I think we'll go grocery shopping one day, a kid wakes up sick and so we go to the doctor instead and eat PB & J for dinner.

Or, right when I sit down to write or rest or make a phone call during nap time, one of the girls wakes up early soaked through their diaper.

This type of stuff used to bug me.
Full disclosure - sometimes it still does. Though, less intensely and less frequently than it used to. #growth

But then a still small voice whispers - be present with them, these other tasks are not more important than them. Give them grace. Care for them gently and patiently. Pay attention to them. Give an extra hug. Sit down & do another puzzle.  

Don't get me wrong. They are not #1. We do not center our lives around our children, by any means. They wait their turns and are learning to do things for themselves as soon as possible. But, right now, they are 2 years and 10 months old. They have a lot of needs. Plus, my older one is super social. She craves interaction. And she craves momma.

This is really really hard for me.
I like to-do lists, leaving the house, and quiet time.
I like dreaming big dreams and seeing stuff get done.
Naturally, I'm a doer.
Being home with your kids all day can be borrrrrrrring. Let's just say, the intellectual stimulation of caring for small children is not the reason I stay home :)

But, it's what God has asked of me. He's asked me to lay down my priorities and give myself to my kids for a season. And chances are, He's asked you to step back from yourself and give to someone else too, even if you're not a stay at home mom. So let's be givers. Cheerful givers. Givers of self... who don't give begrudgingly, but whole-heartedly and generously.

I've rambled. Woops. There's a first for everything. (Haha - just kidding. Confessions of a verbal processor... I ramble a lot.)

And I didn't even get to the practical side of what 'be engaged with my kids' really looks like.
Next time.