We recently visited a wonderful splash pad on our vacation to St. Augustine, FL, right on the beach. The girls were so occupied and independent when we were there that those two hours felt like a dream to Chad and me. It was so amazing, we went back for another two hours the next day. While there, I observed lots of different types of parents. Some drove me absolutely insane, some were just like me and my mom style, and some were different but I admired them for it.
1. The ‘my way or the high way’ mom: This mom of two had a some serious expectations as to how her children were going to play in the splash pad. She was equipped with toys for her children to play with, but there was only one way they could play with them. She was never more than two steps away, correcting them if they filled the bucket the wrong way, squirted their squirters in a different way than she hoped they would, or walked around the splash pad counterclockwise. She didn’t like the idea of sharing her toys with the other children, even though her kids were ok with it. She was a bit much, and honestly, she kind of stressed me out.
2. The ‘no friends for you’ mom: This mom chased her toddler (probably 15-18 months) around like a mad woman, stopping him any time he approached a group of kids. She would swat his bottom when he fussed as she pulled him away. She put him in “time out” at least five times in the 30 minutes they were there. She actually said to me, “I think he’s a little ADHD. He just doesn’t care whose things they are, he just goes up to them.” Yes, lady. Yes, he does. He does this because that’s what children do. That’s what makes children amazing humans. This woman just infuriated me and I was so sad for her little man.
3. The playful mom: This mom was sitting right in the middle of the splash pad without a care in the world that her make up wasn’t perfect or that her hair was half soaked. Her main goal was to enjoy this experience as much as her little one did. He was also a toddler and had a much different experience than the toddler mentioned above. You could tell that this mom really truly enjoyed herself and the time she was spending with her little.
4. The mom like me: There were several moms who had children preschool age or older. Most of these moms, like myself, sat on the outskirts on the benches and just observed. I observed how carefree and friendly kids are with each other. They walk right up to a perfect stranger who looks, and maybe speaks, completely different from them, and they begin to organize a game together. I watched as my girls used the tools I’ve taught them to resolve conflict like using their words to ask for a toy back from someone who took it. I watched the cutest one-year-old dimpled little boy chase every bird that came within his line of sight. I watched all these moms, cringing at some of their chosen words or thinking to myself, “I should be more like that.”
We can find these types of moms anywhere moms gather. There will always be vast differences in the way we parent and interact with our children. Moms will always have different expectations of their kids. I try hard not to judge the moms who are different from me. I try to remember that the ‘my way or the high way’ mom might be the way she is because of the way she was raised. Maybe she’s read some book or follows some blogger who says that’s the way to raise good kids and she’s doing her best. I try to remember that the mom who wouldn’t let her toddler play with anyone else maybe had a bad experience with allowing him to play with others. Maybe her kid is a biter and she’s had that experience before. Maybe he has been bitten by another kid who approached him to play. I try to remember that they might think I’m equally as annoying because I make my kids solve problems on their own instead of doing it for them.
If there is nothing else I’ve learned since becoming a mom, it’s that you can’t please everyone, nor should you try. You should raise your kids exactly the way you see fit best for you and your little ones. Heck, I parent my own two kids completely differently because they are two totally different kids who respond to me differently, and that’s what make this parenting journey so stressful…..I mean fun! The constant unknown, change, and possible judgment is what makes parenting so fun.
Until next time….
“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”