Last week (just before Valentines Day) I had a revelation. I had one of those moments in which you suddenly see a bright light and hear angels singing. No, I wasn’t having a stroke, but I admit that for a few minutes there I thought that I might be having a coronary. This was something that I realized no amount of coffee, chocolate or alcohol was going to fix. It is something that every parent experiences at some point and yet has no easy solution. (Well nothing legal.)
For those of you who didn’t catch my video rant feel free to watch it here, or read on and I’ll explain how this all got started. It was a typical weekday morning in our house; everyone madly rushing around trying to get ready for school or work. As anyone with children knows this seldom runs smoothly. At the best of times, it can resemble herding chickens. Chickens that won’t put on their socks, can’t find their shoes and refuse to brush their teeth.
Most days I can handle it. Sure, I gain a few more gray hairs and that subtle twitch in my left eye becomes less subtle each time, but I do my best to grin and bear it. This morning, however, I admit I lost it. Discovering my daughter’s backpack was the last straw.
This was how my day started: unpacking and repacking my daughter’s lunch, throwing out perfectly preserved and untouched food which I was then replacing with freshly made versions of.
And best of all, it had been left for me to find right where she dropped it in the hallway the night before. Again.
Standing there tossing out yet another full lunch bag had me suddenly seeing red. It was a Mommy Meltdown. I felt my anger rising, put down my dishcloth, grabbed my coffee, and locked myself in the bathroom for a full-on Mommy timeout.
Why do kids do it? How can they refuse to eat and still grow? How do they survive all day at school on a pack of goldfish crackers and STILL not eat dinner? Is she hiding her lunches and eating someone else’s?
I worry that the school thinks I don’t pack her lunches at all, let alone anything healthy. I put a lot of effort into making what I think are nutritious AND delicious lunches, but getting my kid to actually eat is more difficult than nailing jello to a tree. In fact, most parents would agree that getting a kid to do ANYTHING is a feat worthy of celebration. Personally, I count it as a good day if I can get mine to do something with minimal repetition and eye-rolling from either of us.
While I love her to bits and do enjoy her company most days, I sometimes imagine what it would be like if we were on the same wavelength. Following my first ever #Video Venting, most of the parents who shared their own stories with me this week have said similar things. This led me to think about all the things that drive me crazy about having a kid and what I’d like most from my child this Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment – we can try for one day (hell, I’d be happy if I got one hour without any of these!)
What Mom Really Wants for Valentine’s Day
- Hear me the first time. Stop making me repeat myself – especially if we had eye contact for the entire conversation which literally ended 2.6 seconds ago.
- Please don’t tell me”I hate that!” before I finish explaining what it is in the first place. Be open to things – even if it’s just to let me finish my sentence.
- Think before you act. (Some parents have it harder than others with this one.) I know that the average child brain has not progressed fully to the “What if” stage in processing possible outcomes but just once I’d like for mine to question her own logic before deciding to play soccer in the house.
- Hearing me start the shower is NOT the time to raid the pantry; neither is hiding your ill-gained loot in the couch cushions and then forgetting it half-eaten. You will get burned on both accounts.
- I am not your maid. I am your mother. Show me a little respect and consideration by not leaving a trail of dirt and grime and god-knows-what else for me to find.
I realize that many of these are things that have to be learned and the parent it is my job to teach them. I just wish the learning curve was a little better some days.
In short, I dream of a time in which I won’t have to repeat myself and threaten the use of a cattle prod to get results. I dream of walking across my floor and not stepping on Lego or grapes. I long to be able to sit down and watch ANYTHING on TV that I want before 10:30pm. And I long to have a proper conversation on a deep and meaningful level about almost anything.
But most importantly, I want to STOP SOUNDING LIKE MY OWN MOTHER!
Every time I reprimand or correct my own kid, I hear the echo of my mother scolding me; and probably for the same things. No matter how hard we try to avoid it, we can never truly escape the cycle. This is very tough for most parents to cope with, as we desperately want to hold on to the belief that we are nothing like our own parents. It is also the perfect opportunity for the grandparents to revel in some karmic backlash for all the abuse they put up with as parents themselves. I believe the saying goes “grandchildren are the reward for not killing your own kids.”
So in the end, what I’d really like for Valentine’s Day is the same thing most parents want from their kids: respect and compassion. Respect for the values I am trying to teach and the home I am trying to maintain for my family. Compassion for the time and effort I put into doing this on a daily basis.
No amount of chocolate hearts can equal the knowledge that someone cares for you and respects you. This Valentine’s Day, open up your own ears and heart and try to find a thoughtful way to show your love and compassion for those around you. Remember – a little love can go a long way.
Now excuse me. I need to go hug my own parents and thank them for putting up with me as a kid.