Since getting married and having kids I’ve been on a path of pursuing the ultimate level of preparedness. I want to have the power bar to slap in Sean’s hands as he starts to grouse, the drinks in hand before the girls mew from the back seat about being thirsty, the gum soother, bum cooler, and toys to fend off squabbles. Each time we leave the house I try to anticipate what might cross my path and, for the most part, I am getting really damned good at it. Every once in a while something happens that makes me think on my feet, but between twinkly smiles, goofy cajoling and glovebox-candy-bribing, I usually eke by.
Others are the element within the equation that I simply cannot defeat. Overcome? Conquer? Handle.
This afternoon I had to scold the girls and beyond that I had to banish them to their rooms and assign chores. Sean was gone and I knew on a primal level that the misstep needed to be addressed in the moment and without hesitation. I will admit that I want to be the friend, I want to be the parent that other kids adore and that invites a kind of organic staging of all fun things at our house. I know, completely unrealistic and, ultimately, not satisfying or manageable for anyone involved. And yet I want it, so lowering the boom while Sean was gone was not what I wanted to do.
I felt like a observer as my stern side took over and the girls responded with military precision and speed. Their faces showed how keenly aware they were that what had happened was wrong. I knew in that moment that under other circumstances I would have let it pass, would have said to Sean that they knew they’d blown it. I’d have said they did not instigate the event and that a mild scolding should be enough, but he wasn’t there and the price of not nipping this kind of decision in the bud was not something I wanted to ever have to know.
I busied myself cleaning the house and reminding myself why, even when it isn’t our fault/their fault/my fault, the impact of a decision needs to be weighed.
I nearly caved six times over as they did every little thing I asked and as more details emerged. But in the end, I told Sean what happened hours after the fact. I did it. I feel like a kid.
“Look! Do you see? Can you tell what I did? Isn’t it great? Did I do a good job?”
It’s different on this side of the equation, people rarely tell you when you’ve done a great job. It’s far more likely a stranger will tell you that you’ve failed then someone will touch your writst and say, “I know that was hard, but it was right. Thank you. You are making a difference for yourself, your child and the world.”
I saw it in their faces. They were sobered and tehy were wiser. We made it through together, and while we’ll never celebrate this moment, some day today’s discomfort will protect us from harm.
I don’t know your path and I cannot see your circumstances, but I want to tell you that you are doing a great job. Believe it and trust it.
Thanks Amanda – I needed to hear that. 🙂
So are you.
Good for you. Doing the hard parts of parenting is never fun, but the feeling of accomplishment is pretty nice. 🙂
This is me, telling you, “You did a good job.” Parenting is tough and sometimes it’s hard to see how our important the lessons we provide our children with impact them long term. AND since we all need some validation, here it is: Good job, Great job!!! Keep up the good work!!
what’s even better is that you are 99% the organic, huggable, cool mom that they love. So the impact is therefore greater when you’re strict. And in the end, they not only see you as the coolest mom in the world, but you’re also the one they’ll look up to as the mom who always knows the right thing to do. My dad was like that. Really fair, really natural, really my friend. The guy always in my corner. And the instances that he did scold, I remember in such vivid detail, and I appreciate more than ever now, as an adult.