I’ve spent a good amount of time observing children and parents throughout my life. You see, I majored in early childhood development in college, worked part-time at a local daycare, and later worked at a church’s Mother’s Day Out (MDO) program. While I certainly observed a lot about the children, what has stuck with me the most is what I observed about the parents.
My dream has always been to be a wife and mother. I can only remember one brief time in my life where I thought I might want a career in business. I mean, M-R-S isn’t an actual degree — I had to think of something!
While working at the daycare and MDO, I enjoyed observing the mothers. Two mothers with opposite parenting styles stand out the most to me after all these years.
The Prepared Mom
One of my favorite babies to watch was so sweet and happy. Interestingly, her mama was also so sweet and happy. Plus, her mama had all her items perfectly coordinated, labeled, and prepared.
This mother had those cute silicone inch-bug labels on every bottle and sippy cup. Her baby’s formula was perfectly planned and measured. The water in her bottles was already there. All I had to do was pour in the pre-measured amount, shake, warm, and serve. I knew exactly which diapers and creams were hers. I believe this baby’s happiness was attributed to her mama’s preparedness.
The Can-of-Peas Mom
Then there was the mom who often erratically dropped off her child at daycare. Her baby’s items were never labeled, if even provided. One such morning, she dropped off her child with her haphazard “bag of stuff”. As I got her baby situated and began to unpack the canvas bag, I was shocked to discover there was no food in there. How did she drop off her child with no food? I alerted the program director, who then contacted the mother, who promptly showed back up . . . WITH A CAN OF PEAS.
“Can you just feed her this?” she asked.
I was more shocked that she showed up with a canned vegetable as a solution than that she had forgotten to pack any food in the first place. I told her I did not have a can opener to open the can of peas nor any way to cook the peas.
“Just feed them to her cold. She won’t mind.”
I was appalled. I swore I would never be the “can-of-peas mom”. Thankfully, I haven’t been, but I also haven’t been the “everything-is-perfectly-labeled mom” I thought I would be, either.
Shifting of Expectations
As I’ve experienced motherhood, my expectations for what makes a “good mother” have shifted (and rightly so). I’d like to think that at age 32 with five pregnancies and three children under my belt, I would be more gracious to the can-of-peas mom than my 21-year-old self was. I’d also like to think the can-of-peas mom was able to collect herself a little more before her darling child entered kindergarten.
As it turns out, despite the fact that I am not the everything-is-perfectly-labeled mom, my children are happy. Thankfully their happiness isn’t solely dependent on my preparedness. And even if the can-of-peas mom hasn’t become more organized through the years, I’m sure her child is still happy!
Which Mom Are You?
So, which one are you? Are you more of a can-of-peas mom or an everything-is-perfectly-labeled mom? Or perhaps you are more like me, somewhere in the middle!