I think the willingness to reflect and grow has always said a great deal about me as a person… let’s see how I’m doing as a wife and mother. Inspired by Mandi and her post “30 Questions to Ask to Evaluate Your Family Life” on her “motherhood your way” blog (she just turned 30), I thought it would be fun to look back at my answers to these questions several years from now. If these questions strike a chord in you, perhaps you’ll try answering them too! So here goes…
1. What is your biggest strength as a parent? I am incredibly patient (this only seems to apply to my daughter; for some reason it doesn’t cross over to myself or anyone/anything else).
2. What is your biggest weakness? I’m probably too much of a softie. I could push her more to step outside her comfort zone.
3. What do you do that you always said you wouldn’t do? I often put myself last. If someone else needs something that I can provide, I will go above and beyond to make sure they get it to the detriment of my own needs.
4. What don’t you do that you always said you would? Light candles for home ambiance, listen to more live music, travel with my husband. Of course, all three of these are limited due to having a little one around.
5. How have you grown over the past year as a parent or spouse? How about the past five years? This past year I’ve noticed that I don’t compare myself to other parents nearly as much as I used to. I would constantly question myself and try to find the “right way” to raise a child and look around to see what they might be doing that I wasn’t. Now I do what’s best for me and for my daughter. As each day passes as a parent, I judge others less and less. As a spouse, I’m getting better at discussing disagreements, explaining my point of view, and giving my husband the benefit of the doubt. I hope he agrees!
6. What triggers you to yell or get impatient? What could you do to prevent those triggers? Really the only thing is when my daughter deliberately disobeys me. I am trying to see those times as more of a cry for attention and get to her before these incidents happen so we can prevent them together. I’ve only ever yelled maybe 3 times and I apologized when we later discussed what happened. No, I’m not a saint, but see #1.
7. What are each of your children’s biggest strengths? My sweet girl is very bright, creative and imaginative.
8. What are their weaknesses? Right now she’s a little too attached to me. I guess she needs something right now that only I can provide… I don’t know if that’s a weakness but I do wish she’d get over it. It is taking some creativity on my part to encourage more independence, but we’re getting there.
9. Where are you inconsistent in your expectations of your kids? I forget often that she’s only 3 years young. I have high expectations and she meets them most of the time, but then she shocks me back to reality with an emotional and nonsensical fit and I remember that she is a child and this is normal.
10. What memories do you hope your children have of this year? Of their childhood in general? Play, play, play. I hope she retains that sense of wonder and of infinite possibilities that she has right now. She will use tools in completely original (I think) ways to create new art or play scenarios. I have never heard her tell me she’s bored… she can play for hours – arts and crafts, role play, sandbox, with dolls.
11. Where do you see everybody in 5 years? In 10 years? I’ve thought about this one a lot and I still have no idea. I can’t imagine my daughter as an 8-year-old, though I have no doubt I will love her older self. I can’t picture what I’ll do with the time I’ll have once she’s in school longer days – will I try to roll out a photography career, get a teaching certificate, create all these art projects I want to, volunteer? And my husband… he is learning and growing every day at work and is going places, I tell you. I wouldn’t set any limits on his potential. I would hope that in 5 years we are both a lot more trim and fit. 🙂
12. Where have you put unrealistic expectations on your kids? see #9. I often expect her emotional maturity to surpass her actual ability.
13. Where are you not expecting enough from them? I need to encourage her to do more for herself physically but also I want to ask her to help me come up with solutions. If she’s having trouble with something, instead of talking to her about it, I should ask her what she could do to change the situation, how she could have acted different, etc. Listen more than talk.
14. How do you make your marriage a priority in your busy life? This is a tough one for us right now. We don’t have much time together at all. I am trying to use e-mail and texts to connect throughout the day so he knows what’s going on and that I’m thinking of him. I know that I feel more connected when he is part of my day.
15. In what ways do you treat strangers better than those closest to you? I am way nicer and more patient. I smile more and make more of an effort. Hmm.
16. How could you show your kids grace when they mess up? Less physical distance; more hugs.
17. How can you respect your kids’ individuality? Ask more questions to learn more about what she’s thinking. Acknowledge her thoughts and ideas. I think I already do this.
18. Does the way you spend your time reflect your stated priorities? I spend most of my time with my daughter and she truly is #1 for me right now. Blogging and photography usually get the rest of my time. I wish there was more time in there to spend with my husband. Theoretically, he is more important than all of these but it doesn’t seem that way when I look at how I spend my time.
19. What time wasters take away from the things that are really important? I am very focused on a tidy home and often can’t relax until the dishes are done, surfaces are cleared, and the laundry is clean. I’m getting better at letting things go every so often because I realize that being with people are more important and that this need of mine is mostly about feeling in control.
20. Do you handle disagreements or arguments in a mature and healthy way? I hope so!
21. Do you have boundaries in place to protect your family time and values? No, I don’t. I think I instinctively do this though.
22. How often do you spend one-on-one time with each of your kids? Often. I am working on giving her one-on-one time with her Daddy to encourage that relationship.
23. Does technology play a healthy or unhealthy role in your family? Healthy, I think. We choose learning iPhone games and shows and only use it for a small part of the day.
24. What do you need to make more time for? Myself. My marriage. Easier said than done.
25. Do your children and spouse know you love and value them? Yes.
26. What are the love languages of the other people in your family? How can you speak those languages? I think all three of us are Quality Time and Physical Acts of Affection. For my husband, he mostly relies on weekends to give him time to express these. I need to get better at receiving his love.
27. How can you be more intentional about spending time together? I will talk with him about setting aside specific time for each other.
28. What issues or struggles leave you feeling overwhelmed? Is there a mentor or counselor you could talk to about them? Just about everything. Raising a child seems to get harder and harder. I need some breaks I can look forward to. I miss reading! I miss myself.
29. Do you choose contentment or discontentment on a daily basis? Mostly contentment. Once a month I choose discontentment and really wallow in it. 🙂
30. What do you most enjoy and appreciate about each person in your family? Husband: kindness and sense of humor and affection; daughter: sweetness and creativity.