The thing about parenting is that there are frightfully few absolutes. What I mean to say is that no sooner has one drawn a proverbial line in the sand starting with the words, "I will never ... " than God picks up the reigns and reminds you that the control you thought you had was only an illusion.
I don't know about you, but I have eaten my share of "nevers" in the past 13-ish years. From the length of time I breastfed Jo (longer than anticipated), to the fact that Oli is in public preschool (never even on my radar), all the way down to letting kids go to bed without brushing their teeth if it might wake up a sleeping baby (sloth!) ... I've recanted more than a few of those black and white assertions.
And I'm o.k. with that. Because while Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, my circumstances are changing all. the. time.
Toddlers only nap in their own beds, so as to preserve the "this is bedtime" feeling. Well, except when four boys share the same room and three of them need access to said room while said toddler is napping. In which case, a portacrib in the corner of my room will work just fine.
Don't jump down the stairs. Unless it's the last two or three steps, which I'm not going to bother legislating at this point.
Shopping carts are abandoned when little ones have fits, so that I can take the offender to the car and properly deal with the infraction. Except when I really just need four things, and the other four kids are doing great, but Oli just can't handle the lighting in the store so he's flipping out. When that happens, carrying him in the ergo with a coat draped over his head is good enough.
We finish read-alouds. Period. Except when no one is into it, and I pick up the book and feel my stomach lurch and start imagining all the other things I could be doing in that hour. In that case, the book heads back to the library without a thought, whether it teaches my kids to be quitters or not.
No eating in the living room. Unless it's apple slices, and I'm trying to steal fifteen minutes to make dinner. In which case, have at it.
No guns. But swords and lightsabers are perfectly fine.
No writing schoolwork in pen. But since you just got that really cool gel pen in your stocking, I'll give you a pass.
I used to look at families with what I saw as "flimsy" rules and roll my eyes. "You just wait," I'd think quietly, "When they're running all over the place, you'll be sorry you were such a sucker." Now I'm more apt to look at my own surrender and see it as grace. Funny how the shoe fits a little differently on your own foot, huh?
For the record, there are still quite a few Don't Even Question This rules around here. No food in the schoolroom or gameroom. (There were about 5,000 popcorn kernel-sized reasons for that one.) Yes, you have to wear a helmet. If you argue, you lose whatever it is you thought was important enough to argue over. No hitting. Address adults as "Mr." or "Miss."
So the rules are still there, they are just more likely to be met with an equal measure of grace alongside the justice I once was so eager to ensure.
Oh, the places you'll go ... Momma-style.