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I'm not a Millennial Mom - I'm a Rule Breaker

Photo by Laura Watson Photography

I don't remember what I was like at 3, 5, or even 7. I remember being in high school and wanting to go to a party, knowing there alcohol was served. It was ONLY one block away, her parents were home....her parents allowed alcohol as long it was under their roof. "Hey mom, but it's at (so and so's) house." My mom would say no, and I would ask why.... "Because I said so." --- Let's be honest I knew why, and she knew I knew why.

Fast forward to my freshman year of college. "Hey Mom, I'm going to go to a fraternity party." Mom said, "Okay be home by 11pm". That's right, I had a CURFEW MY FRESHMAN YEAR OF COLLEGE. Take that in, soak it up. I'm a freshman in college with an 11 o'clock curfew. Once again I asked "WHY?". And my mom said, "Because I said so...". -- I knew why, and she knew that I knew why. "But Mom, I'm 18," to which my Dad replied "Our house, our rules." I'm sure this conversation ended with a stereotypical Erin eye roll, like many others did.

I was born in 1987, to which I am automatically categorized as a "Millennial." I feel like there are two categories of Millennials: one who hates that term and one who lives up to the stereotype. For instance my brother, born in 1990, and I are COMPLETE opposites. You probably couldn't find two other people who are related that could be more different, we have started looking more alike now that we are older, but barely. Growing up, no one ever believe we were related. 

Most Millennials, like myself, have been shaped by technology. We didn't have iPads and such when we were toddlers, but we are now submerged in iPhones, wireless headphones, fancy cameras, podcasts, you tube videos and let's be honest....memes. I, like everyone else, sleep next to my phone. I feel naked if I forget it and it has everything I need on it, I do keep everything on my written calendar (I guess as a back up, but also because I REALLY like my calendar). I post my life on places like Facebook and Instagram....and obviously this blog, since you are reading it. I use an app to track all my breastfeeding and which side I should feed from. We even have an "Alexa" and a Roomba - I have had a Gen X'er ask me "What if it is really listening to everything you say?" to which I replied "meh, I have nothing to hide, and they probably know everything about me anyway...just check my Facebook." 

When I hear the word "Millennial" I think of someone who is: young, lazy, unmotivated, thinks the world owes them something, irresponsible, narcissistic and challenging. (THIS IS MY OPINION, that is very important you understand that.) I think it is SUPER annoying that I am lumped (along with many other people) into the same category as this. 

How does this affect the way I parent? Well if you are a "millennial" parent like I am, you completely understand. 
-Pick your baby up, but not for too long
-Breastfeed, but not in public
-Get a stroller that accomdates your needs, "Do you know how much she paid for that??!?"
-Did you put sunscreen on your baby?, "Is that full of chemicals?!?"
-I need a break, but your kids are only small for so long
-The baby should sleep in your room, but not your bed, or for too long. 
-A 6 week old is too little to go to daycare, You need to be a independent hardworking mom.
-Take care of the baby, make sure you fit back in your pre-baby clothes right away. 
-Take pictures, but get off your phone & you are overloading my FB with baby pics.
...the list is endless.

The biggest difference between the way I parent and how my parents parented me - I am a rule breaker. Not in a law breaking kinda way, but in a "I am an important part of this equation kind of way" and I don't think a book about parenting fits every single kid. I had my fair share of teenage moments that I got in trouble for, I wasn't ever really a bad kid, my brothers were WAY worse than me. I knew my boundaries, I crossed them a few times and did a lot of stupid things (most of which I will never reveal to my parents, not because they were THAT bad, but because I am embarrassed I did the exact thing they told me not to do and most outcomes ended the way they told me it would). 

Honestly, I don't think my parents were rule followers either. The biggest things I learned from them I am trying to add to my kids lives. Values are more important than rules. Sometimes, you have to use your judgement and implement the values you have instead of following the rules. 

My husband and I live a typical "traditional" marriage, he works and I stay home with the kids. Here is where we break the rules and create values that differ even from my parents.... 
- We split household duties, Kyle does the dishes and has even become the main launderer (not going to lie, I have taken FULL advantage of this....SHHHH DO NOT TELL HIM). 
-We take time for ourselves and together, without the kids (this has become a HUGE portion in our relationship.) Kyle and I have to grow together instead of separate. 
- There's no such thing as "Boy's" or "Girl's" things/toys.
- The TV is my lifesaver - how do you think I get to cook so much? It gives me a break from my children and lets me do something I love - go on JUDGE. 
- I need my own time. I got to yoga or have a girls night, or even go to a friends house send the kids upstairs and for a minute we drink wine without someone saying MOM....it might only last one minute.
- If my kid asks me a serious question like "How does that baby come out of your belly?" I answer honestly. No need for graphic details, but an answer like "out of mommy's vagina" is usually enough for him. To me, this adds to the value of open communication. 
-A late dinner together as a family is more important than an early bedtime. (Although I do try and enforce an 8pm bedtime.)
-Yes, I've sent my kid to bed without dinner, but I would rather him eat 12 chicken nuggets than scream at him for an hour to eat one dime sized piece of broccoli. I DO NOT want to force him to eat something he doesn't like, but I'm trying to find the balance of eating healthy food - this is the most challenging part of parenting for me so far.
-My kids don't always have to share. I don't have to, why should they. 
-Hugs and Kisses are optional never forced. (This isn't always well received with others.) Their body is their body, whether its a friend, grandparent, aunt or uncle no one can make my kids hug or kiss them. Their body, their rules. I don't think I did a good enough job with Kollin, however he is a very hug loving kinda guy, but it will be something I focus on with Charlotte. Even as babies it can be very frustrating to have your child be uncomfortable while someone is holding them, only to have that person not understand the cue of crying, whether that person is related or not I think it is important to have kids understand if they feel uncomfortable with someone, we as adults shouldn't force it.
-"Oh my God" isn't a bad word (my husband and I differ on this.) I don't think it is bad, I also don't think music with curse words is bad either.  
-Some strangers are good and some strangers are bad. How can I teach my kid not to talk to strangers when an emergency happens, or when he wants to meet new friends?
-When they fall, instead of saying "it's okay," I say "but you got back up, and that is what is important."
-The most important thing of all is I am not going to tell my children they are unique or special. WOW I know, how terrible of a mom I am. I think it is important for them to learn they have unique and special gifts that will take hard work. Just because you are special doesn't mean you automatically deserve something. Find your gifts/talents and work your ass off, then go out and use them. If everyone is special, then no one really is. It is super important for my kids to understand they can be bad at something. Kollin right now is working through that with soccer, he isn't the fastest kid. He knows that, we told him that, and he gets frustrated. However, he is good at agility and ball control, and we have talked to him about the importance of that. He can still help others on his team. He knows he has a gift of agility and a weakness of speed. THAT to me is what is important. 

I'm sure there are other things I am missing, and things will change as our children mature and grow older. We will learn as parents where we made mistakes and how to change those things for the future. But that is the best part of breaking the rules and living through values. Our family core values will always remain they will just look different at each stage of parenting.

I might be a "young mom" but I'm no Millennial Mom, I'm a Rule Breaker. 


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