As a parent now, I recognize that my mom worked hard to teach me the things she felt were important for me to know about life. I do the same with the wee ones, and I can only hope that my lessons will allow them to develop into happy and confident people.
However, some of the things I learned along the way – unintentionally or not – I’ve since learned aren’t the secret to a happy life. I’ve redefined a few things, and it seems to be working for me.
Without further ado – the top 10 rules I’ve unlearned:
10) Sitting too close to the tv won’t harm my vision. Granted, I’m not one to sit three feet away anyway, but this is no longer something that gives me heart palpitations for fear that I’m causing irrepable damage.
9) It’s never too late to say you’re sorry. Growing up, we avoided conflict. It was much easier to pretend something didn’t happen rather than deal with it and move on. I’m finding it far more effective to deal with the issues and have a clean slate.
7) Planning doesn’t solve everything. My mom is the most organized person ever. She is the reason I had my calendar color coded based on activity in college to keep everything straight. But now? Well, when I have plans with eleven women to go to dinner tomorrow night, I expect that several will drop out. The fact that I’m down to six now and may not be able to reduce the reservation by that much? Eh. I’ll survive. There’s only so much I can control after all.
6) The phrase you can never be too rich or too thin is bunk. I can’t tell you how often my mom repeated that to me, and wow, looking at it now is that unhealthy. But hey, I’m not thin and I’m not rich, but I’m pretty darn happy with my life thankyouverymuch.
5) Sometimes, it’s ok to sit down. My mom was in perpetual motion. She had bridge or was driving us to or from an activity or was taking a neighbor somewhere and the like. While I do sometimes follow the same route of overcommitting myself, I’m learning to say no and to take some time to relax just for me. And I think that is making me a happier mom and person.
4) You don’t have to be the nicest. Back to the theme of saying no, my mom volunteered for everything. She sought out situations to help people – people she knew, friends of friends, and more. She currently drives her 97 year old bridge partner to bridge each week. She got suckered into watching her neighbor’s dog almost every weekend for three yearrs although they rarely even said thank you. Me? I’m ok if not everyone likes me. Having the most friends doesn’t win you the race in the end. That isn’t to say that I’m (purposefully) rude or mean to people, but I set limits. And if people don’t like them, deal.
3) Falling down is ok. My mom still freaks when one of the wee ones falls or otherwise gets hurt. She hovers, and it freaks them out. I’m busy trying to foster independence and a sense of competence. My rule right now is “no blood, no foul” and it’s working. I think.
2) Sometimes, you need to take a step back ignore the stereotypes. If I did, I wouldn’t have sent the wee ones to the excellent preschool I did. I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful friends I do now. My mom is way different from her parents, but there are still prejudices she holds that worry me. Just this afternoon she wanted to know if they did background checks on bus drivers – the first time she’s asked this in four years of wee ones riding the bus – because I told her that Little Miss had a new bus driver, a younger somewhat heavy-set Hispanic man. Apparently this is grounds for concern. Well, for her anyway. (And yes, everyone who comes into contact with children in district goes through a thorough background check.)
And the number one thing I unlearned from my mom?
Perfect is not the goal. Sometimes good enough really is. Striving for perfection leads to a fear of failure and paralysis. And since you can never accomplish it, there’s never the true joy of satisfaction. It isn’t that I do thing halfway, but I set a point where I’m satified and can quit.
I can only imagine the things the wee ones will be unlearning from me!