I never believed it for a second. I cannot help but feel a huge disconnect when I look back on my childhood. To say I was brought up by fairly hands off parents would seem accurate. I was not taught much about emotional processing. I was taught to do what I was told and to shut my emotions down. My mom was not my friend and dad was terrifying. Yet, here I am. I am a happy, healthy adult with a solid job, a beautiful home and two littles of my own.
As a parent, I have NO idea what I am doing. My ultimate goal is to not mess up my kids. But I have found that because I was never able to fully process my own childhood emotions, that I identify far too much with the struggles of my 3 y/o. When he is frustrated and finding it difficult to communicate, it hurts my heart so much.
My sister bought my son a plush Pokeball for Christmas. He has NEVER been into stuffed animals but this damn Pokeball MUST go to bed with him. One morning he wakes up and refuses to leave it in bed, so he must bring it to get ready for school. Having an infant on my hip, I did not argue. Whatever. Bring your Pokeball.. Now I know the dangers of a preschooler holding anything when sitting on the potty. But in the middle of baby diaper change, a screaming hysterical cries are coming from the bathroom. I KNOW what happened. But I am stressed, getting two kids ready for the day and myself ready for work alone. I get mad and yell “WHAT?!?!?! WHAT IS IT?! WHY ARE YOU CRY?!” Sure Enough, plush Pokeball is floating in a bowl of pee pee. So I fish it out, and receive even more hysterical cries as I refuse to give it to him. “No you can’t have it. You peepee-ed on it. So here comes 7am load of laundry to ensure PokeBall is fresh for bedtime that night.
Still distraught, I was magically able to get him to dress himself. And, at the time, I thought the whole thing was pretty funny, so I snapped this picture.
Later in the day, I would come back to the picture and see his heartbreak. And it broke my heart. Like when you get a scoop of ice cream from the icream truck and after he drives away the ice cream falls off your cone. My poor little boy. I wanted to leave work immediate and give him a hug, hand him his precious PokeBall and let him know that I will always be there for him and I remember that feeling when I was little, but no one was there to hold me. Because when I was little, that was the most dumb reason to cry and no one thought it necessary to console me. I would soon get over it and move on. And I did.
So I stop myself. If I grow up to be an emotionally aware, healthy, happy adult MAYBE my parent’s hands off approach to parenting is better than my goal in life to make sure my kids never cry. Mommy never protected me from bullies, or gave me immunity to confess when I had messed up. I was left alone to figure it out and find a way to make it through each day, and I am now extremely resilient because of it. Everything I have is because I effing figured it out myself. I made mistakes… SOOOO many mistakes, but they did not destroy me.
So now what? Do I refuse to acknowledge my son’s struggles to listen and understand as he grows into a young man? When he was little, I did not understand that one must be taught how to play with toys. I never knew that I had to teach my son how to play with action figures and cars and even sports balls. I always thought he should instantly be able to mimic and duplicate what he has seen on TV or what mommy and daddy do. HUGE mommy fail. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and sad for my son. I felt I have a duty as a mother to teach him EVERYTHING, and in the rush of routine and habit began to just do things for him, rather than giving him the encouragement to try himself. Failed again.
What the heck am I doing?!!?
Am I really raising another generation of entitled brats that feel that the world owes them something? Will he think that woman but always take care of men and provide their every need? Will he resent me as an adult for not giving him the opportunity to fail? Or will he hate me because I let him, and every other parent held their kid’s hand on the balance beam of life so they would not lose their balance, while he lays on the floor helplessly watching them succeed?!?! AHHHH!!!
I want my children to have every opportunity that I did not. Maybe not monetarily, but emotionally have the strength to do and be what they need and want. My tactics change everyday because they do.
In closing I will leave you with a gem I was given recently but a 6th grade Science teacher who told me to keep this in my heart when I feel like the worst mom in the world.
“When your kid does something ridiculous, harmful, angry, or otherwise undesirable, just remember this one thing before you lose your cool… Their brains aren’t fully formed yet.”