Sep 1, 2008

Natalie Riley -Mrs. Super Obsessive Helicopter Parent? I think not.

Whilst some of you applaud and revere my 'honesty' on the blog, I am aware {or at least I believe} there are others of you who get slightly annoyed at my 'complaining' and occasional 'negativity'. Sorry. I was meant to do a post about my house, I'll probably do that next. I've snapped a few pics but still need more and I just don't feel like it today. Instead there is something else on my mind that I feel I need to say.

So I am what you may call a 'casual' parent... {If I were saying this outloud rather than writing it my fingers would already be exhausted from all of the air-quotes, yeah?}.

Anywho, if you don't know me well enough, I'll tell you. I'm 27 years old and have a 4 year old daughter. Yes, I had Laine at 23 and I was married at 21 if you're curious. Obviously I am no teenage mother, but this is still QUITE a bit younger than the average these days when many people aren't even married before 30, let alone having kids. I feel like many people, neighbors, friends, perfect strangers look at me and think I am too young and immature for such a responsibility at this age.

It doesn't help that my life's motto is "Myeh" -accompanied by a shoulder shrug. I am just not uptight about MOST things, there are some that I am borderline anal retentive about -I'll give you that. But the everyday stuff is pretty much "Myeh".

I think people take this attitude, and my age, and spin it into irresponsibility. But what most people don't know is that I am a very, VERY calculating person and I posses the ability to think several different thoughts in the space of one moment. My ability to multi-task is only surpassed by my lack of micromanagement.

For example, you may see my kids out in the front yard, alone, and think they are too young and are going to be hit by a car. You are talking to them all the while thinking 'where is your mom? you are far to young to be playing outside by yourself!' I'll tell you where I am, I'm probably sitting on the couch doing my make-up and I don't want to come out until it is presentable -further, if you don't get the mascara right the first time, it looks horrible all day! Another strong possibility is that I'm up in the loft checking my email or doing blogs. But either way and no matter what I'm doing, I hear every word you are saying to my child. I'm sitting there, listening, because I've left the door open, I may even be looking out the window watching you. I also realize Gabe has no pants on or is still in his pajamas at 3pm. I probably have clothes sitting at the top of the stairs that I tried in vain to wrestle him into, or again, looked at him in his jammies and shrugged, "myeh..."

I'm well aware of everything. And by everything I mean EVERYTHING. I hear them screaming and fighting in the back yard. No, I didn't come running, you're right. But guess what, they'll figure it out. I don't need to ride them like Seabiscuit. I never child-proofed my house, the cleaners aren't on high shelves, the electrical sockets are exposed... In 4 years we've had one trip to the ER when Laine was 1 1/2 and was playing with my kitchen utinsels in the kitchen while I made dinner and she tripped and feel onto a cheese grater and sliced two of her fingers. It was an accident, which was sad, but we learned from it and moved on and have never had an incident again. We careful, and we do take precautions, but I think it is okay if there is some trial and error involved and mostly my children have been able to learn because I've let them make mistakes. Yes, even at age 1 and 4.

Sometimes I wonder, is it me? Do I just THINK people think I'm irresponsible because of my age and personality? And sometimes maybe it is some of that. But other times I am convinced people are seriously worried about the welfare of my children under my care. Many of you in Utah may or may not relate, because MOST mothers in Utah are young. But when you move away, people aren't as young as we are, which is part of the problem. People who were still getting drunk at parties and still being a kid themselves at this age,especially the 23 when I had her, can't imagine having the maturity to do what I do.

It's true I don't know everything, and sometimes things sneak up on me and surprise me. Sometimes I see other Mothers and what they do and wonder why I don't have the inclination to do it like they do. But most of the time I know I am a good, responsible caretaker of my children and I too have a lot of things figured out. So why do I care what anybody thinks?

17 comments:

Gaengy said...

Hey
Did someone say something or is it just the general stuff thats been happening lately? You know parenting is one of the hardest things. Sometimes I beat myself up because I was not more fun than you and sometimes I obsessed about being clean, teaching you to be responsible, etc. etc. The older I get the more I see we all just do the best we can. I always meant well, sometimes it may not have seemed like that to you kids, but I think looking back now I was a dang good mother, and look how good all of you are turning out. We all have different strengths, and have different methods. I guess you just need to let this one be. You are doing a great job! Love you! MOM

Lindsay said...

AMEN!!! I feel the same way-- even here back in Utah. (I felt it a lot more in NYC, let me tell ya!)...I love the "myeh" attitude. I like letting Jack get messy, dirty, eat sugar, and sure, I've, on occasion, given him Dr. Pepper. We like to have fun. Our house is usually a mess. Yes, I know he is digging his fingers in a tomato and squirting juice all over himself and the floor. I try to get him to bed early, but it's OKAY if he is up late sometimes. Man, I have gotten it all! I forget to pack things in his diaper bag, but is there not a store I can get "that something" if I absolutely need it? I feel misunderstood sometimes as well. I'm responsible! I'm just choose to be a little more layed back than others! Way to go Nat- We need to hang out!

Ashleigh said...

I know you and I know you quite well and I know you're a GREAT mom! I know that you're responsible and that you care for your kids and that they're safe. I think I already touched on this in your last post, but I believe every child is sent to the mother that will give them what they need here on this earth. We all have different strengths and talents to offer our children.

I defend young monther because I guess I am one (28 with 2 kids), but I have the energy, enthusiasm, and desire to be a mother right now. I have a great husband and partner, an education, and the gospel to support me. My children have shaped who I am in ways that have made me a better person and I would never have wanted to delay being better or delay the delight and happiness my children bring me.

And now back to you . . . You are so fun and allow you're children to be children. You are teaching them the really important things though and you're kids know you love them. Actions and examples speak louder than anything and you have a great (young) life as an example to your kids! Plus they still have Ben, right? You keep doing what you're doing because you're great! Us that actually know you, know you're amazing! Love you. Ashleigh

Amy said...

hi...

total stranger here :)

actually, I think I was at USU when your hubby was? that doesn't make me less of a stranger though, does it?

ANYWAY -- just wanted to tell you that I LOVE your blog. (*have NO idea how I found it... just ran into it one day and I was hooked*) .... every time I get done reading a post I want to shout out "AMEN SISTER!" you have a knack for writing and although I don't know you -- I know you :) .... ok hope that didn't sound weird. it did... "Myeh"

you are a FANTASTIC, FUN mom -- things I have gathered just from reading your blog. just ignore all those judgemental people... who has time for that anyway?

thanks for sharing your life in blog-world.

James and Heather English said...

Nat, I think most of the time people are just jealous that they can't have that kind of laid back approach. It is a great quality and I think all of us need to chill out a little bit more sometimes! Kids need to be kids, and it helps them develop their own personalities, strengths, and ideas. You are a wonderful mother and I have seen that firsthand. Laine is one of the sweetest little girls I have ever seen and Gabe seems just as laid back as you, which I love. Hang in there, people are irritating. The end.

AnneMarie said...

When Ross was little I was pretty uptight about everything and hovered a lot, he's turning out to be a great person. When Cai was little I was way more relaxed and figured that if it doesn't kill him we're good, he's turning out to be a great person too. Everybody will do things differently, and most people have a tendancy toward being judgemental, you just have to ignore those and do the best that you can, just like you are. I especially love how you are teaching your children one of the most valuable lessons, to laugh at life's situations and at themselves (all the stories about Laine are coming to mind). You are a super mom so just keep doing what you're doing!

Krystal said...

Gosh, I am definently one of those young mom's. Married at 19, first baby at 20, second baby at 23. I admit-with my first I was a little anal retentive when it came to EVERYTHING! :) But now that I am a little older and wiser, and have a 3 1/2 yr. old under my belt, I have become a lot more relaxed w/ the other one. :) Kids will be kids, and you can't (or would want to) enjoy and live their lives to the fullest (even if that means playing shooting games w/ whatever they can make into a "gun"-I tried and tried to stop my son from shooting everything and everyone in sight w/ his legos shaped into a gun-but to no avail-I have now given up..)
I did have to learn a lesson when it came to my daughter though-my son was constantly putting things on her head (when she was like 6 mo) toys, paper, blankets, everything, and she just laughed and laughed-but for some reason it bothered ME. I was always yelling, nagging, my son to stop that, until one day I had to reevaluate and take stock of my relationship w/ him. I was always getting mad at him-for what?! Entertaining his sister?! So now I just have to remind myself that if it is not hurting her and she likes it, I need to RELAX! :) So You are doing GREAT!

Noahr said...

That's exactly why we heart you and your kids.

Jeanine said...

Anyone who is a parent can relate...we are all just doing the best we can. Being a young mom is a balancing act too. Your kids will be proactive people, who can solve their own problems. Not to mention really creative, because you gave them the freedom to do so.

Carl and Mel said...

I love that you are laid back. I realize I a laid back too and wonder the same thing. Sometimes I see mom's who just are trying so hard and I think, just relax and be FUN! I do know for sure that your kids are the best fed kids in town! :)

Taya said...

I totally relate! I feel completely in control with my kids but people even in AZ give me looks or roll their eyes etc. I remember when we first moved here and I just had Trevi people right out of the blue just asked me how old I was while looking at her. It is a blessing to your kids that you can let them figure things out and stay out of the way think of those scary high school moms that got into every drama...

Jessica said...

Being a parent is the hardest job I have ever had. It has taxed me and stressed me in ways I never dreamed, but would I trade it no. I am not going to say much because I would just be saying the same thing as everyone else, but just know you are good enough. Who cares what others think? I was at Costco in Lehi the other day getting after both my screaming kids (they were fighting) and people were looking at me like I didn't have a clue what I was doing and they were moms. We all have a tendency to judge those around us and we usually do it when others are having their weakest moments. Don't worry about it and just know like I said last time that you are doing a great job.

Courtney Wilson said...

The more I read your blog the more I like you!!! Really I do, because we are so similar in so many ways. I got married at 19 and had Claire when I was 22. Its funny all I have to say is that I have a degree and most people change that judging look!! But true I do get a lot of stares and 'under the breath comments' from the school mums when my son chucks a tanty and some look even more displeased because i am pregnant with number 4! I always look at them and think, I know what she is thinking, "Why is she having another when she can't control the ones she has!" This thought generally passes rather quickly. Sometimes though I feel the urge to go up to them and blow a big raspberry right in their face!!! My kids are challenging in their own ways but when they hug and kiss you and tell you they love you, you forget about all the crappy stuff you have to put up with:) If your kids love you, you are doing a good job:)

Phipps Family said...

Hi, I am Carrie Phipps' sister in law and sometimes peek in on your fun life. When I lived in Utah it wasn't as bad as it is here in Arizona. I just turned 26 and have three kids (4, 2 1/2, and 1 1/2) and I have gotten a lot of stares and whipers behind my back. I love your parenting attitude. With my first I was very protective, hovering, etc...maybe even obsessive, but when I had the second and especially my surprise third child I was a lot more relaxed. I love giving my kids the freedom to explore. It's all about finding a balance. You are probably really good at setting boundaries for your kids and letting them explore within their boundaries (even if you don't realize it). You letting your kids play outside without having to watch them tells me that you live in a safe area, you trust your kids and they respect you, and at least they aren't watching tv on the couch! Some parents spend so much time being 'responsible' that they forget who they are being responsible to.

Kate Gildea said...

I love this post...like seriously love it. Especially that you sit and listen to people from your window, you are too funny. And guess what, the kids are fine. And thank you for not being a helicopter parent...I deal with those and they are not that great. Love ya.

Karmann and Ryan said...

I cant go past this post and not say something! I cant help but want to be on a plane right now ready to throw down who ever is making you feel less than a wonderful, beautiful, caring, head on straight, fun loving, mom!!! I find that those who nitpick and say mean things are only lashing out because they wish they were you and to make them feel better they find the negative. I am sorry, AGE has nothing to do with maturity and the ablilty to raise and be a good mother. Also I might add what a blessing you have to have the spirit with you to lead you and guide you to be the parent you need to be to help them grow and understand who they are and their purpose here. I wish I could take you around and have you do some talks to some of the families I work with cause they could use some of your ideas and council! Nat I love you to death and admire you so much and only HOPE someday that I can be as good of a mom like you!!

Emilee said...

I definately agree with you! This was a great post and I think you said what a lot of us moms are thinking. There isn't just ONE way to parent, you have to do what works for you. Thanks for sharing Natalie

 
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