Christy is an amazing mom to three little ones. She’s chosen to title her post “How I Mom: Words Matter.” (You’ll see why as you read on.) This might be her personal story, but there are some powerful ideas in here for all of us.
Hi. I’m Christy, and this is how I mom.
I’m not really that talkative of a person. I’m definitely not the life of the party. My husband likes to think that I’m funnier in print than I am in real life (he’s probably right). And, for better or worse, I seem to have super-parent power when it comes to verbal skills in my kids. (Yet, I somehow have a long way to go with helping them learning how to wipe themselves or play upstairs on their own…)
I remember people being so surprised at how talkative my son was at such an early age. At the time, I just smiled. I was a new mom and I really didn’t have any idea what I was doing, nor did I have anyone else to compare him with. He certainly did talk early, but he’s nothing — and I mean NOTHING — compared to my daughter.
Now Taking Questions…
She wakes up with a question about the day and all that it will hold— and she’s mad when I don’t have an answer she likes. Sorry, chica, sometimes mommy’s top priority on a Wednesday is to get the laundry done and the floor clean.
She verbally processes — and I mean ver-bal-ly pro-ces-ses her way through the day (I finally realized that I don’t actually need to provide answers to all of her questions).
Sometimes I’m tired out by her questions by 10 a.m. Not. Even. Kidding. Remember, I’m really not that much of a talker. My husband gets home and wants to know all about our day, and sometimes I can barely put together a few short sentences that make it seem like we really didn’t do anything at all. If they invented a “TalkBit,” I might break the prototype with the amount of words I go through in a day.
Between the reasons why they can’t have candy for breakfast, the eating habits of dinosaurs and the whereabouts of every single person in our extended family (and when we might see them again), I hope and pray that my kiddos take away a few gems from what feels like are the same phrases on repeat.
Words matter, and so do manners.
Whining? Don’t understand it. Crying? It’s not going to get you what you want. Starting a sentence with “I want” or “I need”? Try again, girlfriend.
But there’s something magical to me about a nice, polite, “May I please have (fill in the blank)…” Go ahead. Call me old-fashioned. When it comes to manners, you’d better believe that I am old-fashioned.
“Ask nicely” and “Use your words” and “Try again” are some of my go-to phrases when it comes to my kids making requests, which they do about 5.8 million times a day. (Seriously, how many cups of juice can one three-year-old need in a 24-hour period??) Sometimes, I don’t even say a word. I just put my hand to my ear and give them “use-your-words-and-try-again-by-asking-nicely” look. It does wonders, at least for me.
I Mean What I Say.
No, really. I do. I mean what I say. When I say “put on your shoes” I mean that I really and actually need and expect my young-but-not-incompetent kids to put on their shoes right away— and with a good attitude. When I tell them in the Chick-Fil-A parking lot that I am outnumbered three-to-one and that we will leave the play date and go home if they aren’t behaving, I really and actually mean it. Now, I’m not going to lie.
I have stopped myself mid-threat to think about if I really and truly want give the “we-will-go-home-if-you-don’t-behave” ultimatum. Because if we go home, I only have my kids to talk to. And we all know that play dates at a place where a playground is involved are really more about the moms than they are about the kids. And I am in real need some adult conversation in my life.
Truth matters. I want my kids to believe in the value of truth. I want them to know that I will not tell them a lie just because it is convenient. If I say I’m coming or I’ll help them in a minute. Then I’m coming and I’ll help them in a minute. Now if I can just work on not stretching that “minute” into thirty… “We’ll see” is one of my favorite answers. Can we watch cartoons with breakfast? We’ll see. Can I invite the neighbors over this afternoon? We’ll see. Can we have family movie night and put up the tent in the living room? We’ll see. It’s not a “no.” And it’s not a “yes.” It gives me glorious wiggle room.
It Matters How You Say It.
As a teenager, I used to absolutely despise this one. “It’s not what you say, but it’s how you say it” seemed to be my mom’s go-to phrase. But now I get it. The tone of voice and attitude behind a spoken word can make all the difference in the world. An “I’m sorry” that is filled with pride and anger is completely different from a heartfelt and truthful “Please forgive me for hitting you in the face with the light saber. It was an accident.”
This goes for me, too. When I lose my patience and scream at my kids, it doesn’t really matter what I’m saying to them. All they see is an out-of-control mama who is overreacting about something they think isn’t really that big of a deal.
So, here’s to words, and lots of them, in my future! As I talk my way through this thing that is parenting little ones (Jesus, help me once my talkers turn into teenagers), I hope to make my words count for good in the lives of my kids. Maybe, just maybe, I will learn some great lessons and gain some great wisdom from my ever-inquiring and always-questioning kids! If nothing else, I will always have someone to talk to, even if it is only about the daily adventures of Doc, Sofia, Jake, Elena, Rider and the Lion Guard. What can I say? It’s #HowIMom.
Follow Christy as she takes over our RGVMomsBlog Instagram feed today.