Friday, May 16, 2008

Never Say Never

Before I became a Mom I had The List of things I would never do when I had kids of my own.

You see, I was a nanny. Although back in the day I called myself a 'babysitter.'  Today I think "babysitter" is considered Politically Incorrect.  Being called a Nanny seems so much more glamorous. More refined. As if getting puked on, changing smelly diapers and wearing somebody's graham cracker schmutz on the front of your t-shirt, is glamorous.

I really enjoyed being a babysitter. I babysat for many, many families, but I had a couple of families that I baby sat for on an exclusive basis.  The "C" family was my Friday night gig. From the time I got my drivers license at 16, until the summer I met The Mister, I was there. 

I knew that The Mister was The One, because he was the only guy worth giving up the Friday Night Gig. 

The other family I babysat for, was the "A" family.  This was the family whom I could say I was more of a "nanny", only because I was there several days a week, with more time in the summer and when Mr. and Mrs. A travelled.

I loved these families.  Mrs. A and Mrs C both invested in me much, much more than the going rate of $6.oo an hour (which was a lot back in the day!) They were generous financially, and personally.

I learned a lot from them. Most of which I didn't realize until after I was a Mom.

I have had a love of babies and kids that goes way back, and I can say, without any doubt, that I was a good babysitter.  I am sure that there were times that I did things, or said things, that were annoying (like the water fight I instigated with the "C" children during bath time one a mother I would have had a conniption!)

I am grateful that I had the nanny/babysitting experience because it did prepare me for the practical matters of motherhood: the scheduling; the learning curve on how to be prepared. I got a taste of the hard work of being a mom.

I also got to leave at the end of the day.

Which made it all seem incredibly easy. 

There also wasn't any emotional ties to my 'mothering'.  I loved these kids, but I didn't have a mother's worries. I didn't have the baggage of wondering if my babysitting skills were going to make these children well adjusted, successful adults.  I didn't have the mind of a Mother. Although I didn't know that I didn't know.

I remember taking the four "A" girls to the pool (by myself). It was an amazing pool with a great shallow area.  The two youngest girls were about three years old.  The youngest child, who couldn't swim apart from the orange floaties that hung on her arms, didn't want to be in the shallow end. I couldn't safely watch four girls, with limited swimming abilities, in the deep end. I was unaware that a stand off was brooding. 

She decided, in three year old fashion, to spend the entire two hour visit, crying and protesting on the side of the pool.  If she couldn't swim in the deep end, she just wouldn't swim.

As the nanny, I wasn't the slightest bit un-nerved. It was black or white. If she wanted to throw a fit on the side of the pool instead of swimming, then by all means, do so. 

As a mom I would have been mortified.  Should we go home? Should I take her to the bathroom for "chat"? Is her crying bothering people around us trying to relax? Do people think I am a failure as a mom? The worries go on and on. 

Things were easier as a babysitter because I had a job. I was given a task, and I was going to accomplish it. One strong-willed three year old wasn't going to get in my way!

Thus, The List was born. The List of all the things I wasn't going to do in parenthood. 

(The List is not compiled based on Mrs. C's or Mrs. A's parenting, just what my young mind saw collectively in ALL my babysitting experiences.)

I was never going to bribe, or spank, or yell. I was never going allow a TV in the car, or make separate meals for my kids. I was never going to drive all over town looking for that elusive toy/doll/etc. I was never going to say 'no' to creative things like finger paint, or shaving cream, or water play.  I wasn't going to be worried about boiling baby bottles, the dishwasher would be just fine. The list goes on and on...

My children would be perfect. Because I knew it all.

Until it happened to me...

I remember being in the frozen food isle one evening during these nannying, unmarried, and childless years.  There was a young mom looking at frozen peas with her toddler having a full, emotional blow-out. He was kicking and crying on the floor. Her 1 year old was in the front seat of the cart, wailing with her arms out to the mother. The cart was full of groceries, and this Mom was saying "OK, we're almost done. We're all-most done." 

I'm certain she wasn't talking to the kids as much as she was consoling herself.

I remember watching her and thinking, "She needs to get control of her kids."

Fast forward about 8 years.

I was standing in the frozen food section. Looking at frozen peas. The Boy, a toddler, was having a blow-out of epidemic proportions. The Girl, a 12 month old, was crying from exhaustion (and probably hunger) in the cart, which was overflowing with groceries.

In that one moment, I realized, I was that woman.

I realized the importance of never saying never.

Because, y'all, what goes around, comes around. Every. Single. Time.

Of course, now, we do have a TV in the car; I totally bribe my children; yes, I have spanked them; I did spend an entire week calling stores and driving around Dallas/Fort Worth looking for that elusive Billy Blazes Rescue Hero. I have totally cooked a separate meal for the kids; and I have been known to hide the play-dough, finger paint and shaving cream so that I didn't have to clean the mess.

I must say, that I have NEVER yelled at, or lost patience with, my kids.

Just kidding!

Of course I have.

Parenting is such a hard task; Such a wonderful, bittersweet, complicated journey, isn't it? There are many choices; so much to sift through. There are personalities, and philosophies, and practicalities. 

Our decisions may be different, but our hopes are the same: To raise our children well.

If you're a young mom, or a new mom, or about to be a mom, I encourage you to Never say Never. There will come a day when you realize that maybe, just maybe, your "Never!" will look like an "Absolutley!"

And you'll eat far less crow than me.

La Vida Dulce!


Becky in East Texas said...

You are so right! I had no idea about being a parent. I said I never wanted children. Then when I turned 33, it happened. I realized I HAD to have children. Something just clicked. God blessed me with two for the price of one! I also said I would never try to breast feed...I did. I said I would never have a four-door "Mom" car. I do and have never had a two-door since! I said I would never spank. I admit that I have...not a lot, but I have. The list goes on and on, so I'm right there with you eating that crow!

Never say never....

Have a wonderful weekend!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I've eaten plenty of crow in my eleven+ years of motherhood!

By the way, my two older kids used to be crazy about Rescue Heroes, and when I was pregnant with my third, they begged us to name the baby Billy Blazes. Such a relief that we had a girl, though Wendy Waters was definitely in the running! ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh so true. I still catch myself saying things sometimes. Things about typical teenage behaviors. Things that as my daughter edges closer and closer to high school seem to fall just a tad bit too close to home.

I'll never learn.

Melissa Stover said...

i had one of those lists! i've broken every rule i set for myself. it's so much harder than i thought it would be and yet so much more rewarding than i ever expected.

Anonymous said...

I was the exact same way. In fact, I taught Pre-Kindergarten for 12 yrs before I got married at 32 and had my daughter a yr later. I saw hundreds of parents and kids in my teaching days and had a mental list of things I would and wouldn't do as a parent. HA! I now have my own 4 1/2 yr old girl and a 3 yr old boy. I'm finding that having two preschoolers of my own is alot harder than having 24 everyday that I could send home to their parents. I have definitely thrown my list out the window (same list as yours so I won't repeat it)and I can say I learn more and more about myself everyday. Never say never....

Anonymous said...

Hi Kellie - It's me - Priscilla - friend of The Boy and The Girl from the crawler room during Wee-Care at Christ Chapel BC - I've been reading your blog for @three months now and have thought about commenting many times... It's late here in Ft Worth - 1:10 a.m. - I really should be in bed - after all, my 28th wedding anniversary began about an hour ago, but my Mr. has been asleep for hours, and I'm wide awake doing my newest favorite thing - reading blogs like yours - and I'm afraid I'd bother him with my caffeine-laden wired-up mind and restless body - by the way, I SO wanted to comment on your Diet Coke dilemma a few weeks ago, - but, unlike most of the other comments, I would have said "keep it up, go for it, I'm about to turn 50, and although I guess it's considered a "soft addiction", I give it much of the credit for helping me raise my 4 children over the past 27 years!!"
(Of course, I'm MOSTLY JUST KIDDING - the Lord, he is the Great Counselor that has blessed our parenting attempts over the years!!

The Boy and The Girl look just as I remember them, only taller!! :)) Just as cute as ever... Didn't The Boy have a brown Lion or Bear lovie that he brought to Wee Care?? I seem to remember him being very attached to it...??...

As far as "never say never"... I'm still adding exceptions to my list on a regular basis... And now my older kids (ages 27, 25, and 22) tell me "Mom, you NEVER would have let me do that, say that, get away with that, etc. -fill-in-the-blank-here - as they scrutinize my raising of their almost 12 year old brother - Yes, I think I'm a more tolerant, more gray (as opposed to everything is black or white) - wait, my hair IS getting VERY gray - closer to white - it used to be SO BLACK!! :-)
more relaxed, more patient and DEFINITELY MORE TIRED Mom... And maybe my older kids are just experiencing the "green monster of envy" as they observe me applying "wisdom that comes of age and experience" to my son John... I say, they had my youth, John has my wisdom... :-) Although I learn every day HOW MUCH I STILL DON'T KNOW and HOW MUCH I LACK IN LEARNING!!

Or as my sister - a mother of 5 kids ages 27 down to 16 - said years ago when another mother (who only had a baby at the time) said... when MY child is a preschooler, I will NEVER let her act that way in church... And my sister told her "you know, I've eaten a lot of words since I've become a mother" :-)

Kellie, I have thought of you many times since you moved from Ft. Worth... I remember hugging you in the welcome center at CCBC the last time I saw you... I DID pray for you and think of you when you moved to North Carolina - and remember?? You asked me to contact the former youth pastor's wife at my church (Ft Worth Presbyterian) who had just moved there because she was the only person you knew who lived there?? I DID write her and give her your NC info... Did you ever hear from her?? I realize through your blog the Lord did provide new friends for you while in NC...

I'm so glad to have found your blog... I'm still doing Wee Care -it's been 8 1/2 years now... I NEVER thought I'd be doing it this long... I'm a GRANDMOTHER now - my 27 year old daughter has a 14 month old... I'm in the infant room now... Still love doing Wee Care... LOVE the CCBC family... LOVE the babies, LOVE serving the moms, LOVE the CCBC staff, LOVE the sweet Christian ladies I work alongside, and LOVE and still can't believe THEY pay ME to do this!!

BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOUR MISTER... OH - and Happy 13th Anniversary to you... Tell The Boy and The Girl that an "old" friend said hi - and give them hugs and kisses [yes, I probably KISSED on your kiddos :-) ] for old times' sake.

Your friend in Christ,
Priscilla Roberts

meh said...

Kellie, Being a nanny scared the tar out of me...I was so glad to leave at the end of the day!! In fact, it scared the tar out of D. too (we were married for part of one of those gigs). But, lucky me, I really enjoy my own kids so much more then other people's!!!

I guess everyone does those lists. Darcie said she finds herself making lists for the teenage years...I am finding myself making lists for being a mom-in-law. Scary!!!! Next will be a grandma list. ACK!! But I have way too many years before I get there!!!!! D3 is at the prom tonight by the way!! Say a prayer!! For me, not him. (:

Musings of a Housewife said...

Oh I can SO relate to this. I linked to you.

Unknown said...

Chickadee and morefrommels,

So fun to see new faces here! And so glad to know that I am not alone in my list making...and list breaking!


I have be praying since the day I knew you were out renting tuxedo's. I still can't believe it. Your kiddos being old enough to drive and go to prom! Aye! Aye-Aye! It makes me teary eyed thinking about attending the weddings of our children!

PRISCILLA!!!!!! How in the world did you find my blog? I am so glad you did!

We loved you as well. And yes, it was a tiger that The Boy was so attached to. Happy 28th Anniversary! And I canNOT! believe your youngest is 12! And friend, you need a blog, your words in paragraphs 3 and 4 of your comment are precious!

Your comment reminded me of how much I appreciated you gals who took our kiddos in Wee care so that all us Mom's with young children could attend bible study. You know, back then, I may have been too sleep deprived, too young and too self-absorbed to tell you how important you were to me.

Had I not had the privilege to send the kids to Wee Care, I would not have learned that God's Word is alive and active. I would not be the Kellie I am today.

Priscilla, thank you for loving on my Boy and Girl (I am so glad you kissed on them!). Thank you for continuing to do that, so that other young Mom's can receive the Word. I sure that you don't get the appreciation you deserve, but God has used you and your amazing love for kids to bring women closer to Him! THAT is amazing, isn't it?

Oh, I could go on and on...I am so glad that you are reading, and I am glad that you took the time to comment. Let's do keep in touch!

With Much Love,

Holly said...

Oh my! Loved this post--so, so true and so, so funny.

I kick myself for some of the "I'll nevers" I've said in the past, because it's all up for grabs now!

Bryce said...

Thanks for sharing that, Im right there with you - even hiding the playdough and paints so I dont have to clean up the mess! haha! Thanks for reminding us to be gracious, both to other moms and to ourselves.

have an awesome weekend! said...

Oh my goodness...we might have been separated at birth, except that can't be because I'm waaay older than you!

I could have written this post - in fact, I sort of wish I had. :) Well spoken!

Unknown said...

Wow - it could be me you are writing about!

All through your post I was nodding in agreement - "yup...did that too!".

Thanks for articulating my thoughts so well!

Off tp read more of your blog now :)

Michelle@Life with Three said...

Just found your site through Musings of a Housewife -- loved this post. All I can say is "Amen to that, Sister!"

Stephanie said...

Hi! I just found this post by way of a recommendation from Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife. I smiled as I read your words. I felt like I knew so much about mothering BEFORE I had kids. And then my daughter arrived and turned my expectations upside down... :)

Anonymous said...

I also found you through Musings. I too was a nanny for a little while. I totally hear ya on everything! I definitely had my act together more then when I got to leave the weekends!

Great post.

Unknown said...

I went to visit my cousin, who had 2 kids, before I had children. Her master bathtub was full of kiddie toys and I said right then, I will NEVER have kid toys in MY bathtub! Guess what is in my tub right now?? ; )