Parenting & “shades of gray” thinking- and no I am not referencing the movie

Screenshot_20190425-130431_Instagram.jpgSome parents see things as black or white. It’s either this or that.  No in between.  Others see things as gray.. a little blended area where both can be “understood”.

I am more of a “seeing things as gray” parent. I used to think that was my superpower.  I believed that I was kinda special because I could see both sides of most stories so I was able to understand where people on opposing sides were coming from.

I still think it’s a pretty good quality. I really do— but sometimes, I wish I could just be ” a black or white” thinker.  Especially most recently and definitely when it comes to my role as mom and decision maker for my children. Does this mean that I am going to change who I am or change my thinking? Not necessarily- just stay with me here as I try to explain.

I am a truster. I trust everyone immediately until they give me a reason not to. And then sometimes I still trust them. Yup, I am that fool.  As a parent, many moms think I am crazy. And maybe I am.  I know that times have changed. I know we no longer live in the days where parents sent their kids outside to play right after breakfast and didn’t see them again until the streetlights were coming on and it was time for dinner.  I know this. And I know that even when I was growing up, some kids didn’t experience this kind of ignorant, naive freedom or have parents that were extremely liberal with things like playing outside. I don’t necessarily feel that because the world has changed, that I have to change my thinking. So– I send my kids to the park that is down the corner and out of my view. And these kids are 7 and 9.  I do not worry that someone is going to snatch them up in plain sight, but I am aware that it is possible.  I just struggle with feeling like I can’t give my kids the sense of some “freedom” because of fear that I have.  They know the rules about strangers and what my expectations are so I try to let them spread their wings.

I allow my kids to attend sleepovers.  Yup, I know- that is something that a lot of people disagree with and I know exactly where those feelings come from as well.  And while I respect them, I don’t follow those same guidelines.  I am not afraid that by letting my child sleep at a friends house or play at a friends house that a parent may be inappropriate towards them . Do I know that this is possible? Do I know that many frown upon this? Yes I do— and does that change my way of thinking? Not in the slightest. And when my children have friends that have parents that believe this way, I make sure my children understand that these beliefs MUST be respected always even if they do not understand the reasons behind them.

I do not assume that every adult male is out to do something horrible to my daughters so I allow my daughters to go places with their friends even if only the father is present.  Am I possibly setting my children up for something bad to happen? Possibly, but I will not stop doing what I believe is right.  Am I putting my child in harm’s way? I sure as hell hope not, but understand the risk I am taking.  Will people frown upon my decisions? Abso-freakin-lutely! And are they entitled to? Abso-freakin-lutely!  And because of that, I understand why, if I am not home and my husband is that they may not allow their child over to my house or to pick their child up even if my daughter is in the car as well.  I may not believe the same way, but I respect the different way of thinking.  And I would never shame another parent because of their beliefs or rules in parenting.

I respect and understand the notion that my way of thinking surrounding being a parent and how I raise my children may cause some to not want me to look after their children. And believe me when I tell you, I get it and chances are, I don’t want to look after your children anyway.  And I understand that because of my actions and beliefs, you may not want your child to interact with mine… and you know what- that is okay also.  Hopefully you don’t think my kid is a jerk, but if you do- you are entitled. I think they are all jerks sometimes too.

Because of this,  well- I feel like I may have always known this, but neither one of us thinkers are wrong. I may be more conflicted, because I DO understand both sides- yes, but not necessarily wrong. I may be a complete whack job and naive according to your beliefs, but not necessarily wrong. My thoughts and views may not fit in to someone else’s lifestyle, but not necessarily wrong.

I want my kids to grow up understanding that people have different thoughts and opinions.  I want them to know AND understand that when they are with their friends and their friends have different thoughts or rules, that these all need to be respected. I want them to understand that their friends, while possibly different thinkers, are not wrong. They do not need to be changed.  They need to be heard and honored for their beliefs and staying true to them.  And I want them to expect the same back from the people they spend their time with.  I have no clue if I want my children to be black and white thinkers or shades of gray thinkers.  I guess it isn’t my decision at all anyway.  I want them to use their experiences, research, and knowledge to lead their thought process in all areas of life and to stand true to what they believe is right… even when others disagree.  And I want them to be honest when they are feeling conflicted and express their concerns in hopes of gaining more insight in making a more knowledgeable decision.

I want to have this same method of thinking as a parent.  Parenting is already a hard and not always rewarding job.  It is something that I do not take lightly.  I think it is even harder, when other parents feel that they are doing everything exactly right and assume that anyone not doing it the same way is automatically wrong.  Us parents, we are a judgy group of people. We all have the same goal in raising our kids to be decent people(or so I assume) but our methods of doing it can often clash.

Let me be clear— there are certainly some things that I have more of a “black and white” approach with.  Things like being disrespectful, my thoughts on bringing home decent grades, doing what I say the first time you are told, etc. And let me tell you- my thoughts behind these things are STRONG and I expect what I expect, no questions asked– something that has made people look at me like I am the worst mom ever

Please know that I say all of this as someone who has been called a horrible parent and a phenomenal parent by some of the same people. To my face and behind my back at times.  I am known as Satan by one of my own children and one of her friends.  It is what it is.  I am not out here trying to win mom of the year- I am strictly trying to just survive parenthood and make it through only mildly bruised. Many times I am definitely NOT making the best parenting choices and other times, I KNOW I am killing the parenting game.  I don’t really think that I need validation on my parenting any longer– I really just need for my kids to grow up and not be assholes….

See what I mean about the shades of gray thing?

In all things find beauty,

MRC

One of my addictions

Hi, my name is Michelle and I am an addict. Seriously, I have an addiction to my cell phone and it has gotten bad.

As a mom of a 15 year old girl, I am constantly talking to her, or trying to, about the importance of putting her phone down and being in the present. She walks around often looking down at her phone and not aware of her surroundings. She gets home, pulls her phone out and is on for the majority of the evening. If she is not dancing, then chances are her phone is in her hand and it is on with her face staring at a screen. She may be watching her current fav show, scrolling through Instagram, keeping up her “streaks” on Snapchat, or Facetiming her friends and/or boyfriend. Always on the phone- I tell you. FOR REAL!!

But wait- this post isn’t about her- it is about me. I am always on my phone. I rarely move from one room to another without my phone in my hand. I constantly look at it throughout my work day. I pull it out as soon as I get into the house and either turn on a show or scroll through Instagram. I use my phone as a bargaining tool or a mode of relaxation with myself. Think: Ok Michelle, give yourself 30 minutes on the phone and then you will get to your homework. Ok Michelle, if you listen to Mayci tell her story for 15 minutes, then you have earned 30 minutes on your phone. Ok Michelle, you just worked 8 hours and drove home, you have earned an hour of staring at your Instagram feed, or watching Hulu/ Netflix, or planning your upcoming posts, etc.

You know when you are driving sometimes and you get to your destination but honestly cannot remember the drive? C’mon, I know you know what I’m talking about. Well that is how I have been feeling about my days… I wake up and then it is time for bed. I cannot seem to remember you middle. I know some of that middle time has been wasted with mindless use of my phone.

Now please understand- I have been trying to be more intentional about my IG feed and my blog so yes that does require some phone usage. Madison is not home often during the evening and my in-laws help out with the kids a lot and need to reach me, so I need my phone. But the time I spend staring at that screen is ridiculous. I keep my reward cards on my phone so I have to pull it out in public often. And NO- I do not talk on my phone at the cash register or anything like that, I mean, come on— that is just plain rude and I do have some self-control!! However, even my plans to spend 15 minutes on the phone turn sometimes into 30-60 minutes depending on what is going on in the moment. And that is just completely unacceptable.

About 2 months ago, I turned off my volume on my phone for notifications and haven’t turned it back on. This was originally so that I wouldn’t be distracted if my phone went off. However, I still look at my phone constantly, because the ringer is also off so I look to see if someone has called or messaged me. I have my do not disturb feature on from 11:00 pm – 5:00 am because most often I am asleep during that time. Not to mention , that my immediate family, (husband, daughter, sisters, parents) are able to by-pass the do not disturb feature anyway. And if a friend or someone was going through a crisis, if they call more than 2 times back to back- they too can bypass the DND feature as well.

And still, I am on my phone WAY TOO MUCH! How I am criticizing my child and her phone habits, when my habits are just as bad if not worse? I miss so much because I am staring at a screen.

Something has to change and I have to make this a priority. Here is my new plan:

  1. As soon as I get home, put my phone in a designated area(I will figure that out today)- I can still use it for music/background while doing housework and such- but will need to keep it out of my hands
  2. DO not allow phones at the table when people are eating or if someone is speaking to me or I am speaking to someone
  3. Keep my do not disturb feature as is
  4. Turn my ringer back on (obviously still off while at work)
  5. Turn my notifications off for EVERYTHING except my calendar reminders, text messages, and phone calls
  6. Allow myself 15 minutes AFTER waking up and getting ready for work (on weekdays) or AFTER waking up and getting ready for the day (on weekends) to go on Instagram and Facebook.
  7. BLOCK telemarketer calls so they are not constantly calling me during the day(I am amazed how many of these calls come through daily)
  8. Take care of things like dinner, listening to kids school days, getting things ready for homework, dance, laundry, etc PRIOR to using my phone for social media or show watching.
  9. Keep my laptop set up and on my desk. Check my email from my computer before I leave for work and when I get home from work.
  10. Reply back to URGENT texts and texts that need an immediate response as soon as I see them— leave other texts(friends checking in, random conversations) to the evening when I have settled in.
  11. NEVER allow myself to be walking around staring at my phone (of course there are exceptions, if I am taking a picture, posting something as long as it is NOT disruptive or disrespectful to those around)
  12. When out in public, have my phone nearby but do not pull it out unless making a NECESSARY phone call or using a reward card/discount app

I am realizing more and more that I need to be more intentional with my life as a whole and that includes being intentional with the material things in my life. Yes, I am aware that things will come up when I will need to be on my phone at “not-so-great” times and that is okay. I will still post on my Instagram stories in the moment and will still use my phone for music- please know that I am not trying to get rid of my phone all together- I just want to be more mindful of how I am using it. I am also aware that I want to change a lot of things… they will not happen all at once and I am aware of that. But I am going baby step my way to better and more mindful and considerate control and maybe from there I can lead by example.

Wish me luck– and if you are reading this on your phone… have you given your eyes a break for today yet??

In all things find beauty,

MRC