After my first child, I was the perfect mom. I loved him so much! That love was expressed through my desire to do everything in my power to make sure he was taken care of in all the right ways. I also felt like, because I was a young single mother, I had something to prove. I went the extra mile for my son as much as possible.
A few years later I had twins, and then our fourth and final baby came not long after that. My, oh my, things sure do change once child number 4 enters the picture! Obviously I still love my kids and take care of them, but my slow descent into sub-par parenting is unmistakeable if you look back on the last 13 years.
After Child 1: Homemade baby food, carefully strained of irregular-sized pieces. Meticulously planned meals with attention paid to calories and full inclusion of the 5 food groups.
After Child 2 & 3: Fruits and vegetables at most meals.
After Child 4 I introduce “bathtub dining”. After a long day of work, errands, and driving children to and from events there has been more than one occasion when we’ve gotten home late and my dirty little children finished their last few bites of dinner in the tub. We pretended we were mermaids though, and they thought it was awesome. 🙂
After Child 1: Mommy and me playgroups until old enough to play sports. Mom sits and watches every single weekend game and after-work practice. Mom volunteers at AWANAS and VBS.
After Child 2 & 3: Weekly trips to the library for story time and sing-alongs. We learn our Sunday School verse in the car on the way to church.
After Child 4- free time? What’s that? 😉
After Child 1: After a relaxing bath and some soothing lavender lotion, we read stories for at least 20 minutes. Then Mommy sings songs while child drifts off to sleep.
After Child 2 & 3: Snuggle up on the couch and read a story after bath time, then off to bed where we sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.
After Child 4 Mommy runs out of steam at around 7 pm. Baths sometimes go like this:
Followed by rousing games of “catch the naked baby” and “who peed on the floor?”
After Child 1: Home-made pocket charts to help learn sorting and early phonics skills. Educational CD-ROM computer games. Flash cards to practice skills in the car.
After Child 2 & 3: We sometimes read stories. Mommy doesn’t correct their speech errors because she thinks their toddler talk is cute .
After Child 4: Story time always ends up with someone crawling across the book or turning all the pages too fast.
After Child 1: All the latest styles from expensive boutiques. Brand-new clothing and toys with each developmental milestone.
After Child 2 & 3: Hand-me-downs for the win!
After Child 4 we still have a lot of baby girl stuff in good condition, so baby boy sometimes wears a pink bib or his sisters’ pajama pants. But only around the house, I promise!
When my oldest was born 13 years ago, I did things a lot differently because I just had him to take care of. But over the last few years I was running myself ragged trying to keep up with everything I was able to do when I only had one child. Now that I am a mom of 4, I no longer think I have to prove my love for my kids by doing all the extra things. Not that there is anything wrong with spending extra time and effort on your kids, I just don’t have the minutes in my day to do that anymore! I love them, and do as much as I can for them, and that is all that matters to me.