In my most recent Facebook post, I laughingly posted that my clever 1 year old son made mockery of us by never playing with any actual toys. He cleverly turns anything into a makeshift toy, happily entertaining himself until he moves on to the next object or contraption most of which are never colorfully decorated or targeted towards a toddler.
It’s fueled my strike against ever buying toys again.
A friend of mine commented, a new mom of 1, informed me that kids don’t play with what they’re supposed to and as long as I keep chemicals and sharp things away I should be fine. While I am sure she meant no harm, seeing past the humor of my post she sought to comfort and reassure me that it was okay, I took a tiny bit of offense to her assuming that I didn’t have the common knowledge to keep sharp objects and chemicals away from my kids. However I refrained from responding, because I didn’t want it to come off nasty.
So I’ll save you the trouble, this is a bit passive aggressive.
Respectfully, having 3 kids and expecting a 4th, my oldest being nearly 9, lets just say, I know a few things about raising kids. I know all about bedtime routines, sleepy time fits and the importance of brushing at night. I know all of the famous kid Dr’s; Dr.Sears, Dr. Ferber and Dr. Seuss. I know all about reinforcing positive behaviors and avoid using negative words. I know all about meal planning and healthy snacks.
How did I ever make it through 9 years not knowing to keep sharp things away?
This unsolicited advice is further agitated by the occurrence that I am expecting my 4th. New moms, old moms and the like seem to want to beeline towards me to give some thoughtful while obvious advice about my children. Most recently a colleague, mother of 1 and training behavioral psychologist, after spending the day with us thought that she’d helpfully tell me some things from her observations to modify my 4 year old sons babyish behavior before it got worse before the baby came. I allowed her to “advise me”, I interjected when I could, but try to give me tips on how to “teach him to be a big boy” and ” don’t respond to his cries for attention”.
However, what she didn’t observe in that day, was that he is a 4 years old middle child, with an already 1y years old brother to compete for attention, and an older much more independent 8 years old sister that is able to do many things on her own. This is a tough space for a 4 years old, especially while expecting another baby brother.
His reality and space feels threatened.
As a mother to many, I realize that children tend to regress in this stage and assert themselves in some obnoxious and annoying ways. Cries for attention, bed wetting, and bursts of proving their independence, just to name a few. I am particularly patient and lovingly, give him the help and attention he desires (moderately), to reassure my child that I still understand he needs his mommy, while also fulfilling his emotional needs for affection.
In addition to that since I have read many parenting books and my social media feed is full of parenting websites to keep abreast of all the trends in attachment parenting, I know that with every undesirable behavior, there is a emotional component that should not be ignored.
I have lived with my child everyday of his young life.
Please understand that, to simply be able to survive the day, I know some things about him. So while you may observe many children, you simply do not know everything about mine in one day or from one Facebook post.
You see, I have been through nights where I cried, stayed up late reading books and going the extra mile to provide my children with the best possible healthy environment. While I am not object to hearing helpful advice, respect that this isn’t my first rodeo.
I hear way more criticisms than I do compliments as a mom of many.
From the way my kids are dressed, to what I am feeding them, to giving in to their cries too much. I am inundated with advice and I am over it.
I am tired of hearing it.
One way you can help a mom of many, is not by offering advice, but rather telling her how great she is doing.
Tell me my kids play well with others, tell me they ask curious and thoughtful questions. Tell me I engage them well and that I have a careful eye to have kept them safe for so long. Tell me I am an attentive loving parent that uses my discretion for what I expose them to very well. Tell me that I am doing a great job and juggle 3 kids with the ease of a lion tamer.
Tell me I am doing a wonderful job.
Those are things I want and I need to hear, daily. I am hard enough on myself as a parent living between the struggle of either working 40hrs a week to provide them with insightful opportunities vs. staying at home with them a providing a nurturing loving always available mom environment, and hating myself either way.
I am already trying to break free of my parents shadow of either great choices or…not so great ones, and making my own that won’t scar my child. Be my cheerleader, my positive voice of reassurance, be my friend. Resist the urge to be critical or need to flex your knowledge of the latest trends in child rearing.
Expect that I know it already. Respect that I know it already.
Understand that sharing my child and time with you is a privilege because there are many people I choose not to. Appreciate us, appreciate me. Let’s follow one another’s example, before we use our sometimes harsh, non retractable words to condemn an innocent and well meaning mother doing her best.
Respectfully, from a mom of many.
Rachel Azzaam is a Muslim, business student, entrepreneur and married mother of 3. In her free time she enjoys bringing her plants back to life, taking too many books from the library and smothering her kids with love to be the favorite parent. Her previous works include unsent text messages and the rescinded over dramatic Facebook posts. Although the author of many term papers, this is her first blog contribution.
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