Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Freedom of Parenthood

I am sometimes guilty of focusing on the the restrictions of parenthood - we can't come and go as easily, the bedtime hours are shot (lately that seems to be from 8 - 11, argh), vacation is expensive, the cost of eating out adds up and our two-year-old often struggles in such settings so why bother, laundry is an endless chore, naps restrict us to the house during certain hours (not that I'm complaining about nap time - trust me), and so on.  So, in keeping with the spirit of the Fourth of July holiday I am reflecting on the many freedoms of parenthood.

My awesome baby-daddy doing some serious puddle jumping with the boys on  Mother's day.
  1. The freedom to be silly
    We adults tend to worry a bit too much about what other people think.  Kids, especially young ones, don't really care.  Not so great when they bust out a full blown tantrum in line at the grocery store (candy at the checkout should be illegal), but pretty fabulous when it comes to their imagination and playfulness and some of this rubs off on us adults.  I've seen some really awesome dads playing various roles during rousing games of princess, moms pretending to be evil villains so their miniature super heroes can defeat them, puddle jumping, hill rolling, bad-basketball-playing, mud fighting, and everything in between.  You never have to worry about looking foolish because you're doing it for your kids (and you know you're having a blast), so go on and be silly.
  2. The freedom to be frumpy
    Don't get me wrong, I love dressing up and looking my best, but parenthood does not lend itself to that everyday.  I know some mamas will disagree and say that you should look your best everyday, but that's just not for me.  Some days I like to steal those extra minutes of sleep, role out of bed and into a full blown kid-centered day.  And I'm pretty confident that when I roll into the grocery store corralling my three kiddos with my hair looking a bit too greasy shiny, not-so-slight circles under my eyes, and more than one spit up, paint or obvious food stain on my clothing ain't nobody gonna say nothin.  And I like it that way because for me that's real.
  3. The freedom to see things through the eyes of a child
    In the time between being a kid and having kids how many times did you stop to watch a deer by the side of the road or watch the ripples when you threw a rock into the water?  How many times did you strike up a conversation with the garbage man because his truck and his job are fascinating?  Or try for hours to catch minnows in a stream?  Everyday I see things in a different, more colorful and more beautiful way because of my children and I am so grateful.
  4. The freedom to be a big dork
    Remember in high school when you would purposefully not wear pink on Valentine's Day or orange on Halloween or red, white or blue on the fourth of July?  Well, I do.  And now I stress just a little if I don't have something festive to wear.  For Valentine's Day this year I made my own heart sweater from this super simple tutorial.  For real, I didn't just wear pink or red I rocked a homemade heart sweater (sweater itself was from Goodwill, but I DIYed the heart).  And I got lots of compliments from other moms, my kids loved it, and so did I.  For St. Patrick's Day I upcycled a too tight green tank top (see picture below) by adding some shamrock print to the sides and bottom and you better believe I wore it in public.  It's fun to get just a little too into the holidays and right now my kids think it's great.
  5. The freedom to be assertive
    I've never been the most assertive person, but now that I have kids I really don't have a choice.  I need to teach my kids to stand up for themselves so when there is a wrong we point it out, talk about it and try to make it right, if it's within our control.  It can be taking from others, cutting in line, or speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves.  I distinctly remember waiting in line at the gas station with my brother to buy a pack of gum.  We must have been about 8 and 6.  As we started to step up to the counter a man, more than old enough to know better, stepped right in front of us and began to checkout.  The cashier said nothing, but I remember her looking at us.  My mom must have walked through the door just in time to see it because she marched right up to him and said, "Excuse me. My children have been waiting patiently and you cut in front of them."  He grumbled, but moved out of the way.  I will never forget her standing up for us like that.  Of course, there are many more dramatic examples of her standing up for us - it's just what you do for your kids - but this example illustrates how even the smallest situations can have a big impact.  Thanks, Mom!
  6. The freedom to find myself
    I studied marketing in college, went on to work as a marketing assistant at a local mall, and then became the communications director for our local chamber of commerce.  It was all great, but it was what I did, not who I was.  After my first son was born I went back to work at 3 months but my heart wasn't in it.  I didn't feel like I was giving 100% to my job or my sweet babe.  I decided to quit my job, start a super small business that I could do with my son and try to eek out every precious moment of his infanthood.  That started me on this journey.  The journey to discover who I am and who I want to be.  To discover what is important to me and what is worth my precious time.  My children led me back to my sewing machine, deeper into my roots and on this road to become a DONA certified birth doula.  I can't imagine going back to the work I used to do.  Not because it's not important or not fun, but it's just not me.  A birth-loving, breastfeeding, scatterbrained, craftaholic mama to three amazing kiddos - yup, that's me.
The plain-tank-turned-festive-shamrock-shirt, lol.

So, while it is true that parenthood can be restrictive, today (technically yesterday, but I have yet to go to bed so it's still July 4th in my book) I am celebrating all the ways that my kids have set me free.  Thanks, my brilliant babies.  I'd love to hear how your kids set you free?


  1. Aha! There is freedom in parenthood - the truth comes out! I love your re-frame here and relate to kids giving parents the freedom to be silly and to be a big dork (although I suppose I started on that one all on my own a few years back... :) As a new step-mom to my two boys, this post inspires me to be more mindful of the gifts of freedom that they bring into my life, thanks!

    1. Welcome to parenthood, Rachael! I'm sure being a step-parent comes with unique challenges, but also some unique opportunities to connect with the boys in a special way. Good for you for embracing it!