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

Dear Michelle,

20190320_122634.jpg**Let’s take a peek into a letter that I wish I could have received from future self when I was 19/20, pregnant and scared as all hell!**

Dear Michelle,

Oh dear, I hope that you are doing okay as you read this letter. At 19/20, pregnant, and scared… there are not many words that I know that can ease any worries, however, being your future self at 36– let me talk to you for a minute.

Things are about to get super real and you need to hear some things that you are not going to like. You and your baby’s father are over. You are done, no longer together.  This will feel like the end of world, but believe me when I tell you it is not. It is the best thing ever. Him walking away will save your life. SAVE YOUR LIFE!!  I can tell you a million times over that this will leave you broken, but you will NOT stay that way. There will be a piece of you that he takes with him forever, but you will not need it because in the end you will receive something even better.  So allow yourself to break down and collapse, it is not the end girl- you are truly at the very beginning. In fact, let’s talk about what is about to happen.

This pregnancy is going to suck. You will be tested in ways far beyond what you have seen and you will surpass each and every test. But listen to me girl- You are a f****** warrior! This pregnancy and experience could seriously break you down to nothing- however, you will not let it. You will cry, scream, yell, hide your feelings, feel as lonely as ever but will come out of this stronger than ever. You will lose friends and will piss people off because of some of the decision you will make, but trust me- it won’t matter.  First- you will experience some things throughout your this pregnancy that will cause some danger to both yourself and your baby. Stay calm, there are some people who are going to want to see you at worst and are going to try to make that happen.. and you WILL let it happen and will hate yourself for it, but again- keep moving forward. I still cannot tell you what made you decide to keep this pregnancy as opposed to terminate as you had done before but I think you made the perfect choice and on June 27th, 2003 you are going to give birth NATURALLY and CALMLY to one of the best individuals ever and it will be THE MOST POWERFUL moment of your life. And I mean that with all of my soul. I mean- trust me- it has been over 15 years and that precious child is a damn rock star human being!!!!

One of the other things that I want to talk to you about is your self-doubt and your  lack of confidence. I know that people think that you are the most confident and outgoing person of life. I also know that these thoughts about you is so freaking far from the truth. I know that you currently sit in your room alone scared to death of the life you are going to bring into this world. I know that while you are sitting there you have cried buckets of tears because you are nowhere near where you thought you would be. You never made it to NYU-nope. You never moved to New York and chopped your hair off-nope. You aren’t on your way to become a criminal psychologist- nope. You dropped out of college- yup. You passed on an opportunity to move to Chicago and start over and have no idea why- yup. You feel like your parents are so disappointed in you- yup, they probably are. You feel like you are alone and I stress that because this is going to follow you, but you will embrace the “alone” differently as you age.

I will tell you that over the next 16 years or so those same feelings and thoughts will continue to be ever.  You are going to still feel that self-doubt and have that lack of confidence. What I am going to say is that you are going to come so far.  But let me tell you about some of your feelings.  By the time you turn 36 you still won’t be where you thought you should be… your entire life will have changed. You will decide not to reenlist in the military. You will get married at 24, have 2 more super amazing kids before turning 30, live on your own, live with your husband’s parents, and then purchase your own home at 28.  These are all big events and you survive them all. Not all of them are easy but they have all been worth it.  You will haven’t made it to NYU, but your oldest daughter hopes to go to a school connected with NYU for dance. You did chop off your hair after you turned 36 because by then you were finally brave enough and confident enough to not give a shit about what anyone else thought.  You go back to college a couple of times and are currently active in school hoping to receive your Bachelor’s in Criminal Psychology by the time you reach 38.  You still never went to Chicago and that desire and want is since faded.

So, no I cannot tell you what life would have been like if those things worked out different, but I can tell you how life has been.

It has been a roller coaster. You are on a “never-ending” journey of self-love and you are really working your ass off.  You struggle with being a mom, and know there is a shit ton of room from improvement- but have finally understood that parenting is a challenge. And while it was originally never in the cards for you, it is probably one of the reasons why you are not homeless and addicted to drugs.  You are thankful for each one of your kids and the special gifts you bring to your family. Your husband and you have ALWAYS had to work double hard to maintain your relationship- but neither one of you has yet to give up.

You are resilient, loving, empathetic, kind, sensitive, and a bad ass all rolled into one.  You can’t stand people just as strongly as you love them.  And this is all because of the person you are right now as you read this letter.

DO NOT GIVE UP! KEEP MOVING FORWARD! KEEP DOING THE HARD THINGS! Write as much as you possibly can. Talk to anyone that you can. Continue to build relationships with people. Do not be afraid to trust. Be honest and open and raw and real- even when it makes you or other people uncomfortable.

You got this Michelle!!!  Keep hanging in there… maybe one day when you are in your 50’s you can write a letter to your 36-year-old self…. I can only imagine what that letter will say….

In all things find beauty,

MRC