Some Rules Were Made to be Broken
As a mom, I realize that sometimes I make silly rules and stick to them like they are commandments/tenets related to morality, yet they are simply the type of rules that are often simply for my own convenience or because I THINK it's the only right way to do something. What do I mean by that? Well, let me illustrate through example. Before I had kids I swore up and down I would never, ever, EVER even think of using the TV to babysit my kids. Then, I had kids. I had kids who started to get antsy right around the time that I had to be working on making dinner. What did I do? Yep, I turned on the Boob Tube! Another example is the fact that I said I would never, ever, EVER use treats as a bribe. HA! Well, after several grocery story tantrums--you know, the kind where everyone else turns around and looks at you with horror, just to stare at the "BAD" mom--I knew my rule wasn't worked. (By the way, that would be the KIDS having the tantrums, NOT me!) So, I decided to bribe my kids beforehand. (I had obviously fallen. I was truly a bad mom now.) "Okay, Kiddos, IF you're GOOD (and then I defined what that LOOKED like) at the grocery store, you can pick out a treat!" Worked like a charm: I was more peaceful, the kids were well-behaved (and when they weren't, the mere mention of that "treat" helped reign in their behavior pretty quickly), and life was good. But, what about the "rule" I broke?
Recently, we had a pretty big life change: Little Tech Guy was diagnosed with Type 1 (Juvenile Onset) Diabetes, which, by the way is completely different from Type 2--but that's a blog post in and of itself. When that change occurred, we noticed how that affected Little Sparkle: some of her sparkle seemed to have left. She was very worried about her brother. She also seemed to deal with feelings of jealousy because her brother, like any child with a chronic disease, was requiring a lot of attention. Additionally, her Little Sparkle Friend had recently moved to another state. That's a lot for an adult to handle, let alone a Little Sparkle. So, we decided to have her ears pierced. (That's quite a jump in subjects, I know...hang on: you'll see the connection in a minute!) Had I made a hard and fast rule when I was not even a mom about how I would NEVER, ever, ever have my daughter get her ears pierced until she was in her teens? Yeh, probably deep down somewhere that little "rule" existed. Yet, by getting her ears pierced, we were making a commitment to give her an extra bit of daily attention, too: when her brother had his blood sugar checked, Little Sparkle had her ears cleaned and earrings turned. The solution worked out pretty well.
I also broke another "rule" recently. The rule? "Thou shalt NOT eat breakfast until thy clothes for the day are on and thy pajamas are off." Well, that used to work. It used to work to say, "Hey, breakfast is at THIS time. If you aren't dressed and at the table, TOO bad." The kids, obviously not wanting to miss some grub, made it there on time. W-E-L-L, now that Little Tech Guy is diabetic, that doesn't work so well. Why? Well, he HAS to eat. My previous "threat" didn't hold up, and, being the smarty pants that he is, he KNEW it. If he wasn't there at the table ready to go, what happened? Could Mom actually NOT save his food for him? NOPE. I was sunk. He tested that theory out, too, and we had some pretty rough mornings where he simply wasn't getting dressed. He also has the advantage that he's at that age where I can't dress him either. I found myself getting pretty stressed out and worked up because I KNEW that my Little Tech Guy HAD to eat. After several rough mornings, I caved, I gave in: I broke my rule. I stated that breakfast would be served first thing in the morning...AND that the dress code was pajamas! (*GASP!) Did this mean I had failed at parenting, failed to show my children that MY RULE mattered, failed to uphold our high moral standard, failed to show them that I was to be respected as their mom? I think not. I think instead it illustrated flexibility, grace, love, and the fact that some (silly, man-made, has nothing to do with being a competent adult or parent) rules were just simply made to be broken. As I've often said to some of my mom friends, "You do what you HAVE to do!"
Now have I completely learned my lesson? Probably not. Do I still look at other moms and think "Why on earth are they doing THAT? Don't they know that's a hard and fast MOM rule that is never, ever, EVER to be broken? Don't they know we aren't supposed to do THAT?" Yeh, probably. However, the lessons I'm learning make me at least take a step back, see that I am not in the same circumstances as they are, and note mentally that a rule that has nothing to do with moral standards is a rule that is free game: free to be broken, free to be adapted as circumstances warrant, and free to empower us as moms to raise our OWN kids in the way that is best for THEM.