By Jamie Goodwin
For the past seven years, I have been a type-A kind-of-mom. I loved it. I loved doing it all. I loved volunteering for each and every need at my children’s schools. I loved throwing the best birthday party blowout. I loved hand-making e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. And of course, I loved making sure my kids were dressed in their Sunday best just to go out in the yard. After all, you never know who was going to drive by, right?
My third child arrived five years after my youngest girl. But wait, another child, another round of being a strict Type A mom? I needed a new perspective, a new plan. So I made one, and I am so much happier.
Baby number three has taught me more than any college class I took: I can’t do it all. I shouldn’t do it all. I won’t do it all anymore. And I shouldn’t apologize for it. I can’t be the best mom, the best wife, the best friend, the best leader, the best volunteer, the best at everything. And you know what? It’s OK. It’s more than just OK, it’s exhilarating!
Today as a parent, I pledge to myself and my children:
I won’t sign up for every need around our church or your school anymore. Why? Because when I do, I am more stressed and more anxious. I spread myself too thin and took it out on you.
I won’t make sure your uniforms or Sunday clothes are ironed. Why? Well, I hate ironing and no one cares anyway.
I won’t hand-make your birthday invitations by myself anymore. Why? Because it’s so much fun for you to make them! And I discovered that the free online invitations are not cheesy, they allow me to spend more time with you instead of searching Pinterest for three hours for the perfect invite that wound up in everyone’s trash anyway. Yep, this year I sent a free online invitation for your party and I laughed at my old self as I hit send. And you know what? You told me this was the best birthday ever.
I will stop answering the phone or emails when I am playing My Little Pony with you. Why? Because at the end of the day, you tell me it is the best day ever when I take time to play with you. And I remember that smile on your face, not the details of an email.
I will stop using the time nursing my baby as an excuse to catch up on emails. I realize now it is a time to bond.
I will ask my husband how his day was when he walks in the door… and actually listen. Because it’s not a time to disappear to go finish planning a volunteer event taking place two weeks from now.
I will enjoy my time with each of you. Because I want to be with you, I want to laugh with you, I want to cry with you, I want to be in this moment right here, right now with my family.
I will make a dandelion bouquet with you instead of stressing out that you’re blowing them across the yard. We’ve spent three years trying to get rid of those suckers and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, at least this season. And you deserve a fun childhood memory of making a mud pie with dandelion sprinkles on top!
I will embrace your purple shorts and pink shirt with rain boots, even when there’s not a cloud in the sky. You are your own person and I love you just the way you are.
I will not squash your creativity and tell you a better way to do your own art project.
I will worry less and smile more.
I will not sign you up for more than one sport or activity at a time. And that’s a good thing for you and us, you will see that later.
I will let you smear mud on your clothes and laugh about it – But yes, I will still make you take them off when you get inside.
I want you to be a bright, loving, respectful, happy, and responsible person so know that I will always instill our family’s love and values or discipline, even in the middle of a grocery store. And I promise not to worry about what other parents think.
My third child has transformed me into a more laid-back-parenting approach and I LOVE IT!. I LOVE NOT HAVING 5 DIFFERENT SPORTS CLASSES TO RUSH OFF TO!!! I love the freedom of our weekend calendars. I LOVE my house looking like now looking like Kaleidoscope instead of a fine art gallery!!!
To my friends, kids teachers, and Church family, please know that when I do say yes and commit to spending time with you, helping you, celebrating life with you … know that it will be with all the love that is in my heart because I am saying, “No” more. It may be, “No” to you more often than before, but when I now commit to you, I commit with my fullest desire and heart. When I offer to come to your home at 10:00 pm the night before your child’s birthday party to help clean and assemble goody bags, I do it because I love you and you and your children are a top priority to me. And I can now be a better friend to you because I am committing less to the rest of the world.
To one of my best friends: Thank you for lining all of your walls with your children’s artwork. Thank you for allowing your children to be happy, healthy, and displaying their creativity all over your home. Thank you for showing me how to allow my children to be who they are. Thank you for caring for my children last-minute when I have a doctor’s appointment or need to run an errand. Thank you for caring for my children like they are your own. And thank you for displaying my children’s artwork as proudly in your home as you do with your own. I thank you for showing me that I am a much happier parent when I spend time with my children first and worry about picking up last. You have inspired me and should say, “You’re welcome!” instead of “I’m sorry I didn’t pick up.” next time I pop by unannounced.
Right now, instead of editing and proof-reading this article, I am off to pick dandelion bouquets with my girls. I promised I would work a few hours this morning and then ignore my emails for the rest of the weekend. I have girls that are running around laughing, making dandelion pies, playing with worms, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it! And if you drop by my house right now, I will not apologize for it looking like a mess. I will invite you to explore, have fun, and make a mud pie with us.
Jamie Goodwin is a homeschooling mom of three. She has a Bachelor of Arts in child psychology and publishes Northland Kansas City Macaroni Kid. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her husband in their home full of kids, animals, lots of love, and of course, toys on the floor. You can follow her daily journey of dandelion pies and mommy aha moments on Instagram @life.on.serene.ave