Like a lot of moms, I worried over every small bump, scratch, word, etc. with my first ones. Would they be damaged in some way if I didn't do something just right? And if I didn't stay on them about every small incident? My husband was harder on the older ones, too. His discipline was tougher.
I'm not sure when we mellowed out a bit, exactly, but there is one memory I have that may have been the signaling moment that we should relax a bit. It was "The Day of the Bologna on the TV." Yep, that happened.
For 10 years, I worked 3rd shift to be with my kids during the time they were home from school and before school. Plus, we really couldn't afford daycare and I did not want to go that route even if we could. My body hated that shift and I never got acclimated. My little clock wakes early and is ready to go to bed by 10 or 11 in the evenings. I worked a part-time job in the day as well. I slept in pieces - a 3 hour span was a luxury!
I imagine that my patience was somewhat thin most of the time as well. One day, I stepped into the den to find a complete wreck. For me to call something a wreck, means it would have looked like a bomb site to most others. Toys everywhere and bits of paper that had been snipped for some kind of project. Half finished cups of stuff sitting about. I just snapped and began "THE RANT." My kids were wide-eyed and I was just getting wound up. And then a couple of minutes into the yelling and picking up, I looked up and just stopped. I was mid stream into the "when dishes are used, they need to be taken to the sink and rinsed, and toys need to be put back into their places, not just left lying on the floor,..WHO put bologna on the TV?" We all just looked at each other and then I started laughing. I'm sure the kids thought I'd lost it, but then they began to laugh, too. It was a round slice of bologna with a small bite taken out of the center of it, just hanging out on the TV. Maybe put there for later by the then 2 year old?
Though that is not what I'd want to find again, that moment clicked for me. We were going to have days like this and lots of things would not be perfect. Decisions they'd make would not be what I'd recommend for them, and decisions I'd make would not be the best in some situations. But we'd all get through and grow from it - children and parents alike.
My 4th child is leaving for college in the fall, which means I have the younger set of 3 left at home. The numbers are starting to dwindle and I suppose I'm becoming a big nostalgic as I age.
I still have to issue reminders about toys and projects being cleaned up, but all the while, I have the vision of that slice of bologna with the bite out of it in my mind's eye.