My son is growing older, he just turned 14 months (even though I swore I would never refer to his age in exact months, I can’t seem to help it). He is a fierce personality with incredible bravery, he is adventurous and curious, intense and whole-hearted.
As he grows I have been thinking more and more about what I do (and don’t) want him to see. There are the obvious things I don;t want him to see like violence on tv, my husband or I yelling at the dog or where I hide the remotes but there are other things as well that I think are important to hide from him. I will not let him see me or my husband weigh ourselves, this may change as time goes on but for now I don’t want him to witness that a number a metal box gives us when we stand on it effects our moods (we all say it doesn’t but in honestly there’s no way it couldn’t even in very subtle ways).
There are the things that everyone wants their children to see, acts of kindness, sharing, love, happiness, joy, passion and loyalty amoung hundreds of traits we hope to instill in our children. There are some other (potentially controversial) things that I want to make sure my son sees, even in his early life.
1. Me making mistakes, potentially big ones
This is important to me because as a parent I feel it is my job to teach him that I’m not perfect and that’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn something from them. Some mistakes can be fixed and some can’t but it is important to learn something from whatever your mistake is.
2. Me feeling stressed or losing my temper
This is a potentially big one. As a stay-at-home mom I have the immense privilege of being with my son 24 hours a day. It is an incredible gift and opportunity for me and my family but at the same time, that’s 24 hours of him pulling my pants down as he tries to climb up into my arms while I cook dinner or do the dishes. 24 hours of him peering between my legs as I pee or handing me toilet paper. 24 hours of dumping out the toys I just put away, pulling down the house plants, chasing the cat, crawling in my lap to read the same book for the thousandth time, throwing food at the wall, crying for literally no reason and running around yelling in an ear piercing pitch. After 24 hours of this 7 days a week anyone is bound to lose their temper, get stern for a few minutes, snap because they need half a second alone, or get frustrated with the inability to just put clean clothes in a laundry basket without them going on a tour throughout the whole house and needing to be folded 3 times instead of once. I could bottle up all of this frustration and pretend that everything is perfect all the time, or I could let him see me get upset. This morning I was trying to get breakfast ready and he kept grabbing up at me wanting to be held but I needed both of my hands to cook ad the stove was hot so I couldn’t hold him or pull up a chair to the counter. In frustration I said “Would you please just leave me alone for like 10 seconds!?”. As soon as I could I stopped what I was doing and got down on the floor with him, I said “I’m sorry mama got upset, sometimes it’s just important that mama has both of her hands and I can not hold you all the time. Would you like to come up now?”. I picked him up and showed him what I had been doing on the counter (grating cheese for our omelettes) and let him put the cheese on top of the eggs. I need him to see that I’m a real person and that I get frustrated sometimes. I want him to see my emotions (both good and bad) so that he knows whatever his emotions are, they are ok. I need him to see me get annoyed and lose my temper because I need him to learn how to make amends and apologize for losing your temper.
3. Doing housework
Some stay-at-home moms choose to do all the house work when their children are napping, and in some cases this is absolutely necessary (think putting bleach cleaner in the toilet or cleaning out the oven). I Have decided to do some of the housework while my son is awake and can “help” me with it. Everything takes a lot longer and there is a lot of redirection involved but for the most part it’s good! I give him a swiffer mop while I clean the floors so that he doesn’t constantly try to use my mop and get dirt everywhere, I have him hold the dustpan so that he is less likely to play with my dirt pile (and spread it everywhere), I give him a cloth to clean the windows with (and wipe up after his fingerprints as I direct him towards another task), I have him put laundry from the hampers into the baskets, put it in the machines and give him a sock or t-shirt to “fold”. By having him not only see the housework get done but having him help with it I am hoping to teach him that a magical fairy does not come and clean up our house while he’s sleeping, and that it’s important to help out whenever you can in whatever little way you can. I’m hoping to teach him to be a thoughtful and productive member of society.
4. Struggling with money
I want him to see that money is a real thing that doesn’t grow on trees. Everything has a cost and sometimes that cost is out of reach for the moment. I want him to know that we cannot afford to do certain things because I want him to be conscious of money and learn not only how it works but why it is important. I hope to have him learn how to save his own money to spend on the things he wants and that when he has $5.0 in his piggy bank another $5.00 will not be coming out of my wallet because he wants another toy at the store. I want him to learn to wait for the things he wants and how much work goes into saving money as well as how easy it is to spend it. I want him to appreciate the things we have and understand that more money and more expensive possessions do not make a happier life.
5. Me having a life and existing outside of him and this house
This is something I am struggling with currently but am working towards. It’s important to me that my son knows I am my own person. That I have hobbies and friends, things that are important to me that exist outside my home. I want him to see that I have passions and interests. I want him to see me as a whole person. So far I’m working on getting to yoga more so that I can be a more dimensional person and mother.