Please welcome Janell Beals from Portland, Oregon! She is the mother of Isabella & Max, thus the name of her blog, Isabella & Max Rooms, and the founding editor of the e-zine, House of Fifty. I love that she’s been on tv, in magazines, in print and it’s still evident to me where her first love is: her family. We are thrilled that she is kicking off the week for us!
It's interesting to me how there is virtually no training for one of the most important jobs we'll ever do in our life. One day we are pregnant and the next we have this little being in our arms who depend on us for everything. Nothing in ours lives to date could have prepared us for this incredible gift and responsibility. So we stumble through, figuring it out one day at a time.
I'd like to think I've learned a few things over the years, but I also know in the upcoming years they'll present me with new challenges and that I'll be quickly trying to come up with yet another game plan! But for now, this is what I know, for our family.
Humor: Oh goodness, if I didn't have a healthy dose of humor towards the role of being a mother and towards the children that gave me this role, the path would certainly prove to be a rough one. Without humor everything becomes a little harder than perhaps it needs to be.
Disappointment: I've finally gotten okay with the concept that my kids don't need to be sheltered from experiencing disappointment. For the longest time I had a real hard time with this, but then I had a reality check. Not everything is going to go their way in their lives and they need to learn how to deal with that now, not later as a young adult. Can you imagine, expecting in the real world that everything will always turn out perfectly? What a mess!
Humiliation & Tolerance: On more than one occasion I have been the mother who had to stand by patiently while Max (yes, more often with him than Isabella!) literally kicked and screamed on the floor in the middle of a store, while people passed by. There was nothing I could do but wait. Most people understood and I appreciated that. It reminds me to have understanding when I see other parents struggling with very uncooperative children!
Taking Credit: A neighbor with grown boys recently shared this thought about parenting. "Parents tend to take far too much credit for both their children's successes and failures." Yes, we can do our best to nurture and guide them. But at the end of the day, they are there own individuals with free will.
Listen & Ask Questions: When Isabella decides she wants to talk to me, it's time to drop everything and listen. These moments may come less and less frequently, she's a girl growing up quick after all, it's important to foster these times.
One-on-One Time: I try to spend time alone with each child as often as possible. Removing the dynamic that exists between Isabella and Max I am relieved of the role of referee. The two of us can really enjoy each others company, focusing on their interests and the activity we are involved in.
Setting an Example: They learn from everything we say and do. They learn more from the stuff we are not intentionality trying to teach them than the lessons we focus on teaching them.
Away Time: Was it really that long ago that kids were meant to be seen and not heard? Then the pendulum swung in the opposite direction with kids becoming the epicenter of a household. I personally don't believe either is best, somewhere in the middle is where my family is trying to land. With that in mind, spending time with your partner, away from the kids, is a key aspect creating the best environment for the entire family.