We all have some version of a 10K in our lives. We all have a challenge ahead of us that we can use to break through the maternal wall. And we can shatter all the ideas out there that limit us as women who happen to also be moms. I hope my story will inspire you to find out what your 10K is and decide that you will get through it and come out stronger than when you started. I know you can.
From learning and practicing jiu-jitsu, a child becomes stronger, faster, and smarter. When faced with a bully, a child with a jiu-jitsu background is not likely to back down. When bullies sense this unyielding confidence, it is more likely they will back down before engaging. A child who has self-confidence in his ability to defend himself will exude that. This can prevent many bullying encounters. At the same time, jiu-jitsu instills humility.
In the woods, there is no nagging. There is no ordering my toddler to “be here, do this, no, don’t do that.” Nature brings an element of freedom as my independent girl gets to lead our adventure and experience the sense of control she so strongly desires on a daily basis.
Contrary to what Instagram would have you believe, you don't have to plan elaborate family outings to create cherished memories. Sometimes it's as simple as a doughnut and a hot cup of coffee with the people you love most.
And because she is finally sleeping, so are we. The two parents who were so proud of our baby's ability to self-soothe. The two parents who swore we would never co-sleep with our children. The two parents who were so desperate for uninterrupted sleep.
I am choosing to show my children how to be the good in the world. I want to teach my children how to give people the benefit of the doubt. I want them to learn how to communicate with people when they are unsure, confused, or hurt. I want them to be able to accept people as they are and not what they think they should be. We all have learned some lessons on our life journey, and all of us have missed a few lessons. So instead of passing judgment on one another for being an authentic, flawed human, let's embrace the idea that most of us out there really just want to be good and trust their intentions.
The fact is, this isn't about bento box at all. This is about the constant pressures of motherhood, the constant fear that we are not providing the best for our children, and the constant battle of social comparison. To me, the bento box encapsulates the constant striving for perfection. And, the fact is, I'm done striving for perfection. I'm striving to be perfectly fine.
I'm not talking about joking around and being silly — my husband and I act that way with our kids all the time. The type of teasing I am talking about is humiliating or shaming kids. I am talking about words and actions that are unkind and meant to embarrass. For example, think about when an adult gives a negative remark about a child's appearance. I recently witnessed a father say, in front of his child, 'He needs to lay off the ice cream or he's going to be fat like me,' and then chuckle about it.
Our young boys should be allowed to explore their world, question it, try it on, take it off, and dabble in it to find out how they fit into it. All young boys are able to learn, grow, and become good. It is when we start to let fear drive our parenting that we lose. If our son’s non-threatening behaviors at 6 strike fear or question in another, it is on them, not us. I know I am raising him to be the good in this world and the man he is meant to be. I am tired of trying to show the world my perfect child in perfect form. So I show the world my son today. As far as I’m concerned, he is perfect just as he is right now.
Toddlers could teach us all a thing or two about forgiveness. You bump your squirming toddler's head as you're trying to wrestle him/her into the car seat. You inadvertently knock over the leaning tower of DVD boxes he/she has decided is a construction project. You eat the last of the Goldfish during naptime. Whatever the offense may be, you are quickly forgiven (after about 40 seconds of crying, of course). It's as if toddlers have a wisdom beyond their years — they realize that whatever you did to upset them can't come close to how much they love you. So they just move on.
So you wave that hand-stitched, hand-dyed, quilted, embroidered, bedazzled flag, my Pinterest Mom friend. And when you see that look on my face as I survey your bounty of homemade gloriousness, know that’s not judgment or criticism. That’s wonderment and pride in you for what you’ve made, as well as a big helping of gratitude for you sharing what you’ve made with me. Because you know damn well I’m taking a slice of that cake.
My children are pros at wasting things. One of their favorite nap-time activities is to take sheets of printer paper and cut them into minuscule pieces that I find for days. They don't color on them — they just cut them up, and then throw them away. When school starts, they bring home reams of paper, covered in "art" that will be treasured for approximately five seconds and then cut into tiny pieces. The same is true for toys. They are joyously acquired, and then quickly forgotten about. Water is left running, lights are left on. Don't even get me started on the food I throw out every evening. You get the picture.
Because sometimes we need to be told to stop. Sometimes it’s not OK to keep pushing. Sometimes it’s OK to say, 'I can’t do this.' But nobody tells us to stop. Everyone tells us we’re amazing and asks how we do it and applauds us and throws confetti as we slowly drive ourselves ragged into the ground.
Summer is full of unfulfilled promises we made to ourselves during the spring about what we would do once the weather turned warmer. If you’re anything like us, you didn’t hold yourself to your promises this summer. Still, we had fun not doing much at all and not meeting our goals. Here’s where we fell short.
Whether your meals are on a couch at dinner time, at the counter in the morning for breakfast before school, or on a picnic blanket for dinner at the playground, do it together. Find your normal, make it a priority, and stick to it. It doesn't matter what other families do. Do what works for you.