Prioritizing my Kids

I found the handbook on how to mother exactly how I had planned….

Oh wait that was that a dream? Fuck I hate when I have to wake up from the good dreams.

I was going to be the mom who almost never let my kids have screen time… it’s going well as you can see.

But on the occasions where my intentions didn’t become a positive impact I tell the kids I’m sorry by doing something differently and explaining to them how I am going to work towards an better outcome.

It takes practice but it’s a really good system, especially now that the kids are getting older. My favorite part is how it’s modeling healthy habits for them. It’s also modeling healthy relationships since I would hope they hold that standard for themselves and those they choose to interact with.

“Yes mommy got upset about that thing, these are the factors that contributed to me getting upset, this is what I’m going to work on doing differently to avoid this in the future and these are the things you can do to help if you want.”

They don’t have to help, but they chose to. And they are great at this point, especially if I tell them I’m having a hard day. Not picking fights with each other, cleaning up after themselves, following directions*

*this statement reflects them being children who have the memories of goldfish it seems.

My favorite mantra is stolen from a friend, “if I ask you to do it then it’s helpful to me, if I ask you not to do it then it’s not helpful to me.

The kids don’t always love when I remind them of this lesson but it has limited sibling squabbles soooooooo much. Just the other day Sadie wanted to show Hazel something but Hazel wanted to figure it out on her own. I asked Sadie if Hazel wanted the “help” …

He imitated Bruno knocking on the walls and was on his merry way instead of admitting she had made it clear she didn’t want his “help,” and I will totally take that. Hazel still had to let out her feels on the matter but then proceeded to finishing her selection of a show.

Sure, Sadie was genuinely trying to help but Hazel didn’t feel helped by his efforts and in this household it’s how you impact the other person, not your intentions that set the boundaries.

There is a special kind of hole in one’s soul that forms when you have your feelings constantly invalidated by the people who tell you they care about you. You go crazy thinking there is something wrong with you for not feeling what you are being told you “should” feel.

We all want to feel valuable and important but it’s not always easy.

I want to tell everyone what I tell my kids:

It’s ok (if terribly annoying and inconvenient) to have talents that are harder to discover or are not as valuable to society.

Because of my experiences, I have a pretty staunch policy about making sure my kids know their feelings are valid. That’s been the thread I’ve held onto, that even if I couldn’t deliver the amazing childhoods I had planned for them, at least I would make sure they knew I believed them. Even if it was about me hurting their feelings.

Trying to keep them alive day to day while also trying to teach them habits and mindsets to live happy lives has been difficult, but I’m slowly starting to see it pay off. The pain I felt accepting their feelings gave me the drive to work on myself to be better.

The moments of payoff are pretty great.

Hazel was actually the one who pointed out to me “Daddy likes to be late” when we were going to school one morning. I probably laughed harder than I should have but his compulsion to be late had so often and so long been a point of friction I couldn’t help it.

The kids and I came to the conclusion that we all like being early and as Hazel mentioned, based on his behavior, their dad likes to be late. At this point the kids and I are like a well oiled machine in the mornings, getting them there as soon as possible so I can get to work on time. I’ve been thinking about what a mental load that is off the kids to feel confident they are going to get to school on time every day.

I want them to be happy in the long run, build good habits and mental frameworks to be ready to take on the world they will face, and I want them to have every tool possible to avoid toxic relationships.

I still hope on some level that the kids dad will realize he didn’t prioritize them during the divorce, and that bad things happened because of that, and that he could try to make amends for all the pain he’s caused them directly and indirectly. But first he will have to see that refusing to see his kids when they needed him because he was busy with a girl was wrong, is wrong, and will always be wrong. And she knew exactly what was happening and encouraged it. Very problematic, to willingly cause harm to these children while pretending she had nothing to do with it.

No matter what else, they needed him, he knew that, his girlfriend knew that, and he chose to be with a her instead of making sure his kids were taken care of, repeatedly, even after seeing just how much I was struggling to meet their basic needs during that time he wouldn’t even include the kids on whatever plans he had with her.

When my kids are fine I go out and fill my own cup but if they need me I will (and have) left dates, friends, whatever, to be there for them, because that’s what it takes to make them feel cared about.

When I’m not fine I do my best to make sure the kids are taken care of. On one level it breaks my heart that I need them to help themselves or each other but on another level I see it helping them build independence and true empathy for others. It’s stuff they need to learn like brushing their own teeth or getting their own water but since I used to have to do it for them I feel guilty that I can’t some days.

That’s life though, I can be an excellent mom but I have to be a mom that is realistic of my circumstances.




I still wanna figure out what I want to be when I grow up

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Maria Dickmann

Maria Dickmann

I still wanna figure out what I want to be when I grow up

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