I feel constant pressure, constant gazes, constant spoken and unspoken opinions about what I'm doing as a mother. There's news articles, entire magazines, blogs, and forums all about how to be the best mom. How to throw the best party. How to "do it all." How to cook gourmet with toddlers. How to paint murals with the help of your kids.
They'll tell you what to put it your diaper bag. What NOT to put in your diaper bag. The optimum speed to drive for kids to sleep in the car. The perfect age for potty training. The best time to start play dates. The minimum and maximum time limits for sleep, reading, TV, and learning.
How long meals should last. How to effectively use time-out. How to decorate dinner to make it look like a clown face. How to make your own Halloween costume and host a neighborhood costume party for 300+ people.
Then there are humans with their advices. "You're so smart for bringing toys to the sandbox." "Oooo, you should have brought more water." "Oh, you let your kids pick their own outfits?" "If he were my kid I wouldn't let him use markers yet." "Trust me, counting to 3 never works." "Your kids are so well behaved." "Church is really hard with little ones, you are so brave." "You can let him play with your iPhone, you know." "You need to read more to them." "They should be outside more." "You need to spend more time teaching." "Take more time for yourself." "You're playing with them too much. Make them play alone." "You should put his shoes on him if he's going to play outside."
I don't know if it's because I'm young. (Not that young peeps.) Or because I look like I need advice on rearing children minute by minute. Or if people just know I'm polite and am good at making them feel good about themselves at the cost of my own feelings being hurt. But this is alllllll the time. And I just want to say, "It's my OWN backyard! I know where all the broken glass and used needles are! He doesn't need shoes! Lee-me-alone!"
I've had enough of it.
My kids are well-loved. They feel love all day and all night. They like being close to me. They like being held and snuggled. Kole will pick 15 books, snuggle on my lap, and not move until all 15 are read. Joey smiles every time we make eye contact. He rubs his head against my leg like a little puppy when he wants picked up. I know when their cries means hungry, tired, there's been an injustice, or finger stuck in drawer, respond quickly. I know that Koley needs physical touch, lots of hugs and smooches, and chuggy chuggies and cuddles to feel loved. I know Joey needs one on one play time to feel loved. Well, ha, that and applause. He's such a lime-light lover.
And you know what I just figured out?
Kole and Joey love me. That's why they are always smiling at me and laughing at me when I fall off of my chair on purpose. That's why they want to be as close to me as they can be. That's why they are always handing me things... trains, trucks, things they broke, garbage they found, crusty old food pieces. They are sharing with me because they love me. They copy my dance moves out of love. Kole corrects me when I call a backhoe an excavator because he loves me.
That's what matters.
I don't care what your opinion is of how I raise my children. I'll listen to it because you'll say it loudly and to my face (and because I am a moral giant). But it's not going to sink in.
My boys love me.
They think I am the best Mom ever.
And they are what matters to me.