…In order to distract my two year-old from the brownies in the pantry, I turned on a video. There are these awesome breakfast muffins baking in the oven as I write this, but my kids are hungry and the muffins are going to be about 15 more minutes! The toddler is resorting to brownies, and the two older kids are asking for the King Cake that we had for dessert a couple of nights ago. But I made muffins, and by golly, they are going to wait for a few minutes and enjoy them when they come out of the oven! Hence, the Tarzan movie in the next room.
I write this to illustrate a point that many of us mommies forget when we peer into the lives of other mommies who seemingly have it all together: When one of us is doing something awesome, like making whole wheat breakfast muffins for her children, something else sometimes suffers just a little bit. Not always, but sometimes. My kids are watching a video at 7:30 a.m. on a school holiday – not the end of the world, not terrible parenting, but certainly not ideal. If you peered into my kitchen, you might think that I’m an awesome mom – but if you peeked around the corner and saw my kids watching TV, you would probably smile and say to yourself, “Yeah, I could make my kids muffins for breakfast too if I turned on a video!”
Parenting is a juggling act – we have to set our priorities and realize that family life will never be perfect. If something is important to us and it is consistently a struggle, then yes, we should figure out a way to make it happen without sacrificing something else that is also important. For example, if I wanted to make muffins every morning, then I really should go ahead and prepare the batter the night before, because limiting TV time is also important to me! (We usually have cereal, fruit, and oatmeal.) I have a similar struggle at dinnertime, and have realized that I either need to prep my meal early in the day or be okay with serving scrambled eggs and bananas to my children for dinner.
It is also worthwhile to sit down once in a while to re-evaluate our priorities, because as children grow and change, so do the needs of our families. I would venture to say that the most important priorities never change, because they are based on moral truths – going to Mass so that we can love and serve God in all that we do, showing respect for mom and dad because it’s the 4th Commandment, etc. However, other priorities might change; for example, super-early bedtimes used to be a huge priority for us when the kids were very young, and we would do almost anything to ensure that this priority was not compromised. As they get older and their bodies can handle a night with less sleep once in awhile, we are okay with going to dinner with friends because we realize that this is also important for our family.
God gave each of us our children, and as parents we need to know our children and do our best for them. My husband and I have learned a lot about parenting from our friends, who are wonderful examples, but we also realize that no two families are exactly the same and that there are too many moving parts to ever be able to compare. We look to other Christian parents for ideas and encouragement, but the important decisions are made through conversation between the two of us and God. We can all be great parents if we do this regularly.
Just for the record, I did turn off the movie while eating our muffins (important to me), and we had a great discussion about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “I have a dream” speech. The movie is back on, though, so that I can write this blog post (also important to me).
May God bless you all on this Monday morning. Holy Mary, Mother of divine grace, pray for us!