Sometimes, when raising small children, you can feel pretty beat down. The days can seem long, the battles hard fought. The beauty and unconditional love that accompanies having kids can often be dampened by the actual work of raising them. The times outs, no you can't have that, and day to day routine can often suck the life out of everyone. The consistency and patience that are needed to produce positive outcomes often takes more energy than any of us can muster and we are left feeling guilty, incompetent, and completely out of control. At least I do, anyway.
Sometimes, I don't know if I'm doing anything right. This whole parenting thing doesn't come with a manual, you know? And sometimes I wish that it did so that I could gauge our progress and know in my heart that we are getting it right. But, it doesn't. The only way that we know how well we are doing is by looking at our kids themselves. Are they happy? Thriving? Content? Do they believe in themselves and project positive attitudes? Do they treat others with kindness and respect and use good manners? Are they responsible and follow instructions? And, most importantly, do they know that it is okay to mess up every once in a while? That no one is perfect and we'll love them no matter what?
We had one of those weekends that showed me that we are, in fact, on the right track. One of those weekends when things just fell into place and everyone behaved and all felt right in the world. On Saturday, Shawn and I took all three kids to the LSU football game. We tailgated, explored the college campus, and watched ALL FOUR quarters of the game without a single meltdown or temper tantrum. It was a perfectly sunny fall day, purple and gold colors everywhere, and we bundled up in fleece and flannel. I packed a picnic for us to enjoy before the game and the kids ate their weight in PB&J and brownies. We took our time, no rushing around or high expectations. We let them take the lead, trusting them. As they rolled down the big hill in front of the Journalism building, I smiled and waved and tried to memorize their happy faces. I soaked in all the giggles and shrieks of excitement as they weaved their way through the crowd and watched the pre-game parade. And that moment when we stepped into Tiger Stadium, their eyes lit up as they took in the field and the band and the sheer magic of a live football game: it was priceless. They sat in their seats the whole time, popcorn in hand, and cheered right along with the crowd. They didn't complain or whine or act up. They said "excuse me" to their neighbors, thanked us for buying them snacks, and acted like sweet little ladies. And River, well, he slept the whole time. All wrapped up and snug in his carrier, our mighty giant boy took in his first game. His first of many, I am sure.
They weren't born knowing how to behave like this: they've learned good behavior through discipline and hard work. Those days when we feel defeated and exhausted and discouraged because it seems like all we did was fuss and fight with these defiant little ones: they are worth every second. Because even when we feel like they are ignoring everything we say, they're not. They're taking it all in, both the things that we say and the examples we set. They are learning whether we want to give ourselves the credit we deserve or not. And we are proud. As we left that 3 hour long football game and put our sleepy kiddos into the car for the drive home, Shawn and I felt so proud. They are good kids. And it was a good game. Geaux Tigers! And geaux Vasquezs!