I don't text and drive. I don't drink and drive. I don't let my kids ride in the car without being buckled. I don't let my kids jump on their beds in fear of breaking a nearby window, or their necks. I don't let them play in the front yard alone.
However, I do let my kids get dirty. Sometimes I let them eat food that fell on the floor. If Jack finds a fruit snack on the floor of the suburban that's been there for who knows how long, and it's not wet, I usually let him have at it. I let my kids brush their own teeth, and wash their own hands. I hand them the remote to the tv and tell them to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings because it usually means another half-hour before I have to get up and fix breakfast.
Sometimes I feel like I'm too hard on the kids. Sometimes I feel like I'm not hard enough. Sometimes I wonder if this is an epidemic that every mother comes down with the day she gives birth. I call it the "guilt-factor." I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what kind of mother you are (stay at home or working, younger or older, biological or adoptive), or what you base your decision making on... no matter what, you will probably feel guilty and constantly be wondering if you're doing the "right" thing. Maybe it's a woman thing, but I'm pretty sure it's definitely a mom thing. I am always wondering if the decisions I'm making today (even the small ones) are going to forever shape the kind of person my kids are going to turn out to be. I'm wondering if my tone comes out harsher than I intended if it's going to ruin their ability to have compassion for others. I wonder if they watch an hour of tv more than they should each week if they are going to turn out to be lazy and unproductive adults.
I remember when Natalie and Carter were a few years younger, my sister in law (Jeanna) and her husband got a puppy. They were doing a great job of training her and working with her constantly. Then it happened. And I knew. Jeanna was going to be "that kind of mom." Her dog was getting into something and because she was around the kids, she looked at the dog and said what she would have said had the dog been one of the kids, "Jasmine, make good choices." Even though she has never lived that down, I know she'll be an awesome mom, but the fact that she talked so sweetly yet assertively to her dog and I have a hard time remembering to talk to my *children* that way was kind of a wake up call. For a minute. Then I remembered that everyone is different. Everyone can be on their game sometimes, but no one can be at their best all the time.
I'm banking on two things. One, that kids really don't start remembering everything until they're like 8 (or, cross your fingers, even later). And two, that no ONE thing I do (or don't do) will make or break my kids as individuals. The one thing I know for sure is that I need to just keep doing my personal best. I can't compare myself to others, because what I see is probably their best, not their most-of-the-time, and I just need to keep working at making my best my most-of-the-time... and not feel quite so guilty about the times that I don't.