Are You the Perfect Mom I Thought I’d Be?

Dec 01

I used to be very judgemental of other people’s kids.  At least, before I had my own three kids.  I’d sniff my nose indignantly when a mom pulled a screaming kid through the grocery store.  In church, I’d steal exasperated glances at the parents with the restless children who hit eachother and crawled under seats.  I’d condemn any family that welcomed video game consoles into their households.  

“I’ll never let my kids do that,”  I’d say with the conviction of a hairdresser sworn to lighten dark roots.

Then I had kids.  Three raucous boys who threw my ideal image of motherhood to bits.  As it turns out, my kids aren’t quite as perfect as I’d planned them to be.  They fight.  I yell.  They break things (a lot of things.)  I rant.  They ask for candy everywhere we go.  I say ‘NO!’ (most the time.)  They beg to get video games.  I cave in. 

Oh, it used to hurt to admit that my kids played video games.  I really wanted to be that mom who could stand firm against the tide of digital technology.  In fact, it was a long and exhausting battle that lasted for a few years.  The kids always wanting more video game freedom, and me always wanting them to have less.  We  have finally found our balance.  They get to play a few hours per week and I have made with peace with the fact that we are a video game-friendly household. 

It was during my “battle” that I decided to write Danny in a Newfangled World (my new chapter book for kids.)  I knew I wasn’t the only mom out there struggling with her kids’ online and video game playing habits.  I decided that it made more sense to stop fighting the inevitable digital bombardment of the North American household, and instead, figure out a way to help kids understand the challenges of this brave new world, albeit in a fun book for kids.

As I attend fairs and signings to sell my book, I come across the odd parent who is still able to sniff indignantly at “those kids.”  You know – kids like mine… Kids like the ones I used to look down upon.  When I say this is a great new book for kids who’d rather be playing video games, they respond: “My child doesn’t really like video games.”  Oh, I always think silently.  One of those.  I want to tell them that the book isn’t just for video game crazed kids (every book needs a fun by-line!)  but for EVERY kid who ever goes online.  If I do manage to get those words out, the parent and child have usually wandered away before I finish my sentence.

I feel a pang of jealousy.  How did she manage to stop her kids from playing video games?  Isn’t that the mom I was supposed to be? 

No.  It’s not the mom I’m supposed to be.  That’s just the mom I thought I would be.  But I’d been wrong. 

 My kids aren’t always the best behaved kids in the room, but they’re still pretty fantastic.  And my house isn’t a digital-free haven loaded with wooden toys, abacuses and classic books (we do have a few of those, though.) 

Over the past few years I’ve learned to embrace the digital age for myself and, in the process, allowed the digital age to be a part of my kids’ lives too.  After all, virtual reality is almost as much a reality these days as, well, reality.  Kids will be online whether parents allow it or not.  If not at home, then at school.  If not at school, then at friends’ houses.  Better they learn healthy habits here at home than at someone else’s house (or on someone else’s mobile device.) 

And if you’re the mom that I thought I’d be, well, just don’t judge me too harshly.

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