Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Chapter 3

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Kenny Rogers wrote that iconic song about a poker game strategy that was really a metaphor for life when he stated that knowing when to hold and knowing when to fold your hand was the way to go. The same could be said for parenting. I was always told to pick my battles but there was the rub. What should be a battle and what should I let go?

I recall when my kids were young that often when they asked if they could do something or go to an event or a friend’s house, my stock answer would be “maybe”. One time after I answered that way, I heard one say to the other in the back seat of the car “When Mom says maybe, she means no”. I was stunned! I realized that they had thought the “maybe” answer was for them when really the answer was to give myself time to consider the request and make sure I made the right decision. Was it then always a “no” after my consideration? Perhaps it was. Let’s just say that for many years I felt confused about whether I should “hold ‘em” or “fold ‘em”.

There is no manual for parenting. There is only your own parent’s style of child rearing or maybe your grandparent’s or aunt or uncle’s or the family next door. We all learn by example. I have certainly said to myself that I would do things differently then the previous generation and have heard my friends say the same things. But did I? Was I strong enough to forge new methods of child raising or was I relying on the old standbys? Certainly there was a plethora of books and advice out there to refer to. Let your baby cry himself to sleep or he’ll always want to sleep in your bed. Don’t let your child cry himself to sleep or he will feel abandoned. Feed your baby on demand. Don’t feed on demand, set a regular schedule. Give time outs for bad behaviors. What happens if your child stamps their foot and refuses to time out? You can appreciate the confusion. What to do? Am I a good parent? Have I ruined my children, made them afraid, distrustful, angry, sad? What kind of a mother was I??

The answer of course is a normal one. We all do the best we can with what we have. Sometimes I see what my adult children are doing or how they are reacting to something and I wonder if I should have done something differently. But they are individuals with their own minds and ways of doing things. And I need to let it all go and just feel blessed that I am still a part of their lives.

And oh yes, very happy that I am not a poker player.

About mom2times

Tina Celentano writes about love, life and lessons from the empty nest. She is a Today Parenting and Red Tricycle contributor and is published in the anthology Once Upon An Expat. In no particular order, she is a friend, mom, film buff, book aficionado, music lover, wife, sister, writer and traveler. You can reach her at tina@babyboomermomblog.com

4 responses »

  1. Tina, I’m not a grandmother (yet) but many, many friends are in that blissful stage of “not worrying”, just “loving”. Perhaps grandparents aren’t so concerned with the rules. But as new parents I think the poker game continues no matter what generation! This particular blog might be helpful to share with newly blessed parents, trying to figure out the hold ’em/fold ’em mysteries of life!
    Thanks for sharing the world of “maybe”, a world many of us relate to (including our adult children!)
    Diane

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    • Thank, Diane!! This is new to me but I would like to share to as many as possible. I’ll see if there is a resource for new parents that maybe I can post on. Hope you are well! thanks for reading!

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  2. As you know Tina, I sadly missed out on being a parent, however, I too can relate to the dilemma of fold ‘e/hold ’em and the “maybe”. I see it in my step children with my Blessed grandchildren. Yes, we have two boys and so different from each other. I am finally able to LOVE these children as my own and so enjoy the quality time Bruno and I have babysitting them. This is a wonderful tool for me to read and take in. Thank you!!

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