North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

February 18, 2014

Danielle Cater: Be sure to give your kids what they need

Danielle Cater: Be sure to give your kids what they need

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

AN NJN EDITORIAL — Once the snow melted this week, life went back to normal and we all found ourselves busy with our regular day-to-day activities, and trying to catch up on everything we had put on the back burner during the snow days.

Our household had a busy weekend, and among the events of the weekend, we celebrated our second birthday in three weeks. That’s right, our perfectly-blended family has given us two daughters who celebrate birthdays within three weeks of each other.

We try to let each daughter know how important they are to us, so we do separate birthdays for each. This means that every other weekend this month we had a house full of people and gifts, with plenty of cake and cheese puffs.

There is always a moment during birthday parties that I find myself looking around the room at the people who took time out of their busy schedules to be there for a little girl’s party. These are usually the people who have been with you from your children’s birth and through the years.

We don’t do very lavish and extreme parties around our house. I learned a long time ago that kids would rather you spend the money on their gifts than on the party. We let the girls mix up and bake their own cakes the day before their parties. They get to pick out the decorations ,and although I don’t let them do the icing, I do let them lick the spoons after it’s done.

Whatever money the girls get for their birthdays is put away and one night later in the week, just the birthday girl and mommy get to go on a shopping spree. Two weeks ago it took Natalie all of 20 minutes and two stores to spend every penny of her money (plus some).

I found that when people had skating parties and bowling parties and Froggy parties, the kids had a great time, but the families weren’t able to talk and enjoy themselves over the loud music and all of the craziness of the festivities. I would rather have a lower-key party when I get the opportunity to actually try to spend some time with our guests, and without a two-hour limit on when we have to have the room cleaned out for the next party.

Yep, our party rooms weren’t cleaned out at our house for at least two days. But it is well worth it for our babies to know that they are loved and that these people are supporting them and loving them through the years.

It’s amazing how some people treat their kids. Some act as through they are the leeches of their lives, sent to suck out all of the fun and excitement that they had going on before giving birth. Others seem to only use their kids as a pawn or a toy that they can dress up and show off, but never truly try to be a part of their lives.

I use to be so jealous of the moms who had clean houses and their kids dressed in the finest of clothes — until I realized that most of those kids were being raised by their grandparents, when the rubber meets the road.

If you are a part of your baby’s life, then your house will be messy at times, your makeup won’t get applied some days, and they will still have sucker stickiness on their cheek from lunch when it’s 4 p.m. It’s just the way life goes.

When you get down in the trenches with your babies, you’ll hold them when they cry because the mean girl at school teased them. You’ll discipline them when they tease their little sister and remind them of how they felt at school with the bully. You’ll cook them dinner, even though it takes more time than throwing a happy meal at them in the back seat while driving to meet your friends.

I guess it all comes down to making your time count. Make your influence count. Make your efforts count. Take the time to see what your kids need, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Sometimes they just need to know that you care enough to let them crack the eggs when they are baking their birthday cake. And other times they need you to ground them for their disrespect.

Basically, your kids need you, and you need your kids. Throw parties with them, shop with them, play ball with them, but make sure you are carving out some time for them.