Recently I attended the county fair where my husband and I grew up participating in 4-H programs and now volunteer. During our week of 4-H festivities and the hustle and bustle, I had many chances to observe the army of mothers who were scurrying around after their children and often their 300-plus pound animals. These moms, for the most part, were hot, tired, smelly, and ultimately pouring out their love for their children through their actions.
What was most unique to me was how each interacted with their children. Some did most of the work for them because they were small, but were talking with and educating their child along the way. Others sat back and allowed their children to go and do more independently. Finally, you had mothers who worked alongside their children no matter their age because 4-H is a family project. They celebrated success and had tears together during losses. I heard conversations about congratulating your opponent, what we can do to improve in the future, shaking an adult’s hand, and so much more that I wish I had time to list. Some families were okay with third place because they gave their best and some were going after the champion that was just out of reach this year.
What was notable about each interaction was that every mama had their own unique style of loving, teaching, and preparing their child for the future.
Parenting is Unique
We each have our own parenting styles. Many have told me before I had my second and third child that I would parent very differently than I did with my first. At the time, I thought they were crazy. Why would I not keep on doing what had worked?!! I laugh hysterically now that I am a mama of three very different humans at the thought of parenting them the same. As I walked through the week of the fair watching other moms parent from discipline, to praise, to how far they let their kid’s stray, to how little or much they helped them with their projects, to how dirty they were allowed to get, I began to reflect on how much parenting is unique to the mother and the child and how no ONE way is the RIGHT way.
Sanitized Hands to Eating Sand
Previous to having my twins and beginning the journey of parenting three under three, I looked at parenting very differently. My oldest was often right by my side playing within arms reach, rarely did she leave to go with others because if she wanted to play I followed right along behind. If she grabbed a handful of sand I was ready so that she didn’t eat it. If she had been playing in the dirt I had my sanitizer out before she could even think about putting her hands near her face or mouth, and the list goes on and on.
Now that there are three busybodies, the twins get a very different version of mommy. I promise you that during our adventures, sand has been eaten, dirty little hands have held sandwiches, they often go to play with others away from me (of course an adult is present) and my hand sanitizer is lost in the obscenely large bag that I carry and can’t possibly be found ever again!
The moms of the fair were a healthy reminder for me that how I started parenting is not how I will end parenting. Our beliefs about how to mother and what is best are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the tiny army that call us “MOM”. My challenge for you is to take a moment, stop, and look at all the moms around you that are parenting in so many ways that are like you and different from you. It’s beautiful to watch and continuously reminds me that no matter how we choose to parent “WE ARE ALL MOTHERS” and we are on this journey together.