I have some rules about motherhood. Rules I’ve picked up from other awesome moms, informative articles, and a whole lot of intuition.
I don’t end hugs first. If I am doing a chore or a task and my daughter asks for my attention, I don’t say no. I might say “in just one minute” or “just for one minute” but I don’t say no. I read books as many times in a row as she says “again!” I make time every day to play an imagination game and to do some sort of glue-this-to-that kind of craft. Oh, and I take really good care of myself so that I can be a really good mom.
There are more, some hard and fast rules and some spur of the minute how-do-I-handle-THIS-moment decisions. I don’t have to tell you that motherhood is the least static thing around.
Here’s the one thing I don’t have rules about though: television. I’ve just decided to not worry about it.
Have you noticed that the one thing it’s totally okay for moms to feel guilty (and be made to feel guilty about) is television watching? Every post or blog that even has the word “television” in it also includes some lengthy disclaimer about types of carefully selected shows or carefully monitored time or extreme circumstances that allow for the horror that is your children watching tv.
Look, it’s not that I’m trumpeting the mighty television or anything but, come on! Do you know how much television our parents watched growing up? Or maybe you?
I wasn’t allowed to watch television. I mean, not much. It *had* to be PBS and there were time limits, seriously strict ones. My husband, on the other hand, watched as much television as he wanted of whatever was on. Fast forward to the present: He couldn’t care less to ever look at a television screen and I love it. I want to watch all of the things and he will occasionally watch something that genuinely interests him. We’re both smart, fully functioning, content and happy adults.
Maybe it doesn’t matter so much.
Maybe it’s just a really great way to continue making ourselves (and others) feel guilty and, really, it’s not going to make much of a difference.
Here’s the thing – if your child is asking you to play with her and you tell her every single time she asks, “No, go watch television” there might be a problem to look in to. If you child watches a television program until their interest wanes and you do everything in your power to entice them to continue to sit in front of the tube, probably there’s an issue. If you are paying absolutely no attention to the content of your children’s television viewing and they are likely seeing things that are horrific, terrifying, or sex ridden, probably you should do a little soul searching.
But if your kid asks to watch tv, even for the second (or third!) time that day and you’re beat and out of distraction methods, or you’ve got homework, or laundry, or a dinner to cook, probably our world and the future of your children’s success and happiness isn’t going to suffer too much in the long run.
I’m not saying we should do our best to spoon feed our kids tv shows and character brands and holiday commericals, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t watch for signs that it IS too much (agitation, problems sleeping, low attention spans), but maybe we can just all calm down a little and cut ourselves a break.
Is my kid going to someday look back at her childhood and tell her friends, “yeah, I watched a lot of tv”, or is she going to remember that her mom had crazy voices for every character in her books, that there was always something to glue or tape or glitter, or that every time she asked for my attention, no matter what, I stopped what I was doing to see what she needed and took a minute for us to figure out together when I could best give it to her? Will her favorite childhood characters (currently Peppa Pig, Charlie Brown, and Daniel Tiger) be a fond memory for her along with her memories of her mother cooking and dancing, cleaning and singing, doing homework, playing games, reading articles, whatever else… Does she need to be my entire world in order to have a healthy and successful life, or will just being the most important part of my world be enough?
Um, seriously? Who knows? I can assure you, though, my daughter would rather that I be sane and happy and relaxed when we hang out and play together, and not distracted and guilt ridden about the state of the house/meals/partner/hobbies. I can assure you she would rather have me present and content, not omnipresent and resentful.
I mean, call me crazy.
(by the way, if you’re going to judge me for this, you should probably also know that I rarely manage to add a vegetable side to our nightly meals…)