Childrearing

SAHM No More: I’m Spoiling My Kids And I Don’t Give A Damn

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spoil kidsI have always had a hard time saying no. Sometimes this has led to exciting adventures, like my marriage. I’m totally serious. My soon-to-be husband and I eloped by driving across the country—New York City to Las Vegas is not a short trip—and heading to the Graceland Wedding Chapel where Elvis signed our wedding license (well, his real name was Stan Williams, but that’s hardly the point) all because I hate saying no. I like to say yes. I like to see what will happen.

Of course, that changed a bit when we had kids. I had to learn to say no to a lot of things. No to extra desserts. No to staying up far past their bedtimes. No to ordering toys off Amazon or Ebay. No to sleepovers on school nights. No to ordering pizza for dinner when I had a whole meal planned out already. No. No. No. And this has all worked fine enough. Both of my boys have grown to understand boundaries in exactly the way that I would have hoped.

But lately I have started saying yes to them. Not yes to buying toys or watching rated R movies—they’re only eight and 11 and they’re just NOT READY for Paranormal Activity yet, I don’t care what their friends are watching. But yes to other things. Yes to staying up far later than I used to let them. Yes to ordering in dinner or heating up frozen pizza instead of cooking a real dinner. Yes to extra desserts. Yes to long playdates that stretch late into the night and push back homework time beyond all reason. Yes to scrapping all the rules and regulations that I used to have in place because I just want to spend time with them and be the fun mom that I feel like I don’t have the time to be anymore.

Oh, wait. That’s it, isn’t it? It’s all a product of my guilt over not being with them as much anymore because I’m working. I spoil my kids because I want them to love me as much as they used to when I was there all the time for them. Put that way, it sounds kind of, oh, I don’t know…pathological? And yet, there it is. I spoil them now.

I let my younger son sleep in my bed when it took years to get him consistently in his own bed. I let my older son have two bowls of ice cream when I used to be firm about one. I let them both read chapter after chapter of whatever book they’re into this week, when I know they should be getting serious shut-eye, all because I want to lay down near them and just hang out.

It all sounds rather nice. And it would be great if I felt like I was bending my former rules to suit our new situation, but that’s not quite what’s happening. It’s more like the rules have bent me. I don’t like the rules as much anymore because I feel like I’m the one who’s victim to them. I don’t even think that my kids minded their former bedtimes or dessert policy. I resent the rules. I feel like the rules are making me compromise. I love my kids and I love my job, but sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough time for both things. Or rather, that while I’m at work, my kids are going to play, and all I’ll be left with is straight-up mom duty where I’ll have to take care of all the responsible parent-y stuff and none of the fun stuff.

So, I spoil them. I let them have fun and be reckless while I’m around. And I don’t feel guilty about it. Not even a little bit. Not even when we’re all piled in my bed and it’s almost midnight and no one has brushed their teeth and we’re reading and I know they should be in their own beds with the lights out but I just think, one more night, one more night and we’ll go back to the old rules. But I haven’t made it there yet. I’m enjoying breaking the rules too much still. Sometimes we all need to just say yes and see where it takes us.

(photo: M. Unal Ozmen/ Shutterstock)