Saturday, May 9, 2009

Never Say Never

Have you seen the email that compares your actions based on how many children you have--you know:
-With your first, you sign up for every activity you can find--Baby gym, music classes, etc.
-With your second, you sign up for one, maybe two activities
-With your third, the only activity you take the baby to is grocery shopping

But it stops at 4. After being a mom of 4 for two years, I know why. It is just too darn depressing, at least for moms of zero or one. For me, it had taught me to never say never.

When my first was born, I saw our world as a great Utopia--a perfect democracy. We would all decide on issues including rewards and punishments. I cringed when I saw moms tell kids what they would be doing and not following the perfect democracy model you see in many child rearing books.

When the my second was born, I was quick to see 'democracy' does not work with two girls who had total different ideas. One wanted to eat Thai, the other wanted to invite friends over for pizza. So we began a 'socialist' system. My children may have gotten different things but I always made sure it was far and equal. Bedtimes were the same, play date times and amounts-the same, rewards-the same. It was tiring, hard to keep track of but I struggled to keep everything equal. I shook my heads at my moms who did not handle things equal, fair and just with their children and was convinced they played favorites.

Then when my third was born, I realized that not everything can be fair. The baby, my first boy, needed a lot of clothes (society and daddy frown on boys in frilly dresses even if they are blue). I could not buy the same amount for the girls too. Activities had to change too. If a child needed the activity, they got it. If I did not see a real need, it was scrapped. Our family government was now modeling Lenin/marxism 'to each according to his needs'. Yes, there was some anger among the girls. There was a great deal of--this is not fair but I did try and make sure everyone got what they needed. I felt this was fair.

Finally, I had number four and I became what 3 children ago would have been my worst nightmare--a benevolant  dictator. Like Chavez or Castro. I have learned if I do not take total control of a situation, I will have complete chaos. If I see one daughter working very hard in a dance class and the other using dance class time as social hour, guess who is not taking dance class next year. Even if it was helping with posture. 'Fair' in this house is now a 'place where the farmers get together and see who can throw the cow patties the furthest' (my kids know this quote my heart). And trust me, if I had heard a parent say this phrase to a child even one child ago, I would be shocked. 

Well never say never.

My discipline style has changed too. I used to be very into discussing 'situations', then time-outs and warnings. Now I have progressed. Under my dictatorship, we are under 'zero tolerance' (and you can even ask my 2 year old what this means). There are no warnings, no discussions. There are essays (in cursive for both girls), basic writing for Dino and nose directly in a corner for Spanky (like a time out but I can't really get him to write at this point--all in time ;) ). And if excuses are made, word count/time is increased. I would have labeled myself meanest mommy ever ten years ago.


Brian and Staci said...

Lisa!!! I am cracking up! This is one of your best posts ever!!!! You are such an awesome mom!!! I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I hope you have THE BEST MOTHER'S DAY!!!!

mah-meeee said...

you are a great mom. your progression is actually really good! when you have 4 kids, you simply don't have the time for bs.

great post!

EatPlayLove said...

I've come to be much more easy going with my second, my poor first child didn't have all the outs like my second! BTW , no way you're a mean mother just very precise in your parenting.

dani said...

time wounds ALL heels, lisa... even those of us with one child:P this is a great post, and you are a great mother!!!
much love,
dani xxxxxx

Amanda said...

I hope you get spoiled rotten today :o)
Amanda x

Anti-Supermom said...

Lisa, so well written. This has been on my mind - how do we make it work, for everyone.

Thanks for being honest and clear-cut. I love you even more after reading this post.

PS- I'm the meanest Mom, you can be second ;)

just jamie said...

It shocks me, looking back, that my own mother managed us little humans and we were actually, you know, SCARED of her.

And NOW? I'm the one in charge? HOW did that happen? Don't those little people know that I'm still figuring out this grown-up stuff? Funny thing, huh? They think WE HAVE it ALL figured out. (Which, of course, we do...right?)