I started out as a totally hippie, granola-munching, tree-hugging mama. I gave birth to my kids at home. I breast fed them for two years. I used Waldorf style toys and books (all wood, silk scarfs for dress up, and lovely fairy stories). I fed them organic vegan meals, which I made while thinking on how special my family was and how much I loved them.
Of course my kids had other ideas.
My son wanted to play with GUNS *gasp* and wear camo and crawl in the dirt and pretend to shoot bad guys.
My daughter wanted Barbies, and make-up, and her own gun and camo to follow her brother around.
I fought it.
They eventually won.
I bought Barbies from the Princess of the World Collection so at least my daughter had a variety of ethnic Barbies to play with.
I bought my son toy guns, camo, and G I Joe dolls but also toy swords and cloaks so he could play Lord of the Rings.
I took them to faerie festivals, folk music festivals, and to see the latest movies.
Then I started working at a group home, where the state licensing board sets the standards and rules. Where I work with kids who need clear firm rules and boundaries. Kids who don’t handle changes in their routine.
Kids who have to deal with public schools and conform to the rules, instead of going to alternative hippie charter schools.
Kids who need a doctors permission for me to give them herbs or vitamins, like I could ever get that. Kids I can give over-the-counter medications, but not homeopathic formulas. Kids can stay home only if they have a fever, diarrhea, or are vomiting.
Unlike my personal kids who stay home because they are sick, or super tired, or “Mom, I might shank someone if you send me to school today.”
So now my house smells like Pine Sol instead of patchouli.
Clothes are chosen based of cost and conformity instead of expressing one’s personal style this week.
I like what I do. I understand the importance of helping these children mesh with society, learn social skills, and fit in with their peers.
Kids who think that if you can’t behave in a socially appropriate manner you’re not eccentric, or expressing yourself, you’re hindered and awkward, and feel left out.
I understand that being a firm, stable, in-control person in their life is essential. And I’m not saying one parenting style is better than the other. In fact I personally believe a blend is ideal: firm clear boundaries and structure so they feel safe and learn ‘proper’ behavior, within which they are given freedom to explore who they are and their individual style, passions, and skills.
What has your parenting journey been like? Are you the kind of parent you thought you would be before you had kids?