Parenthood is a tough job. Yes, it is a job. It isn't
something you clock in and out of, but it does take work, diligence, strategy
and patience to raise kids.
Many new parents are handed their precious baby and
can't see how they could possibly do anything but good by their kids. They
go into parenting with ideals of moderation, no screen time, a limited number of toys, a sugar-free lifestyle and never, ever yelling at their little ones.
And then their infant turns into a toddler.
Moms, let's just admit it right now. The toddler years are a
true test of stamina. You constantly feel like you are losing at a game
of chess. There is no way this child, who is now manipulating you like a pro to
get what he wants— screaming in the grocery store for more candy— came out
of your womb. You feel yourself getting angry. You know that you could make it
all stop if you just give in. A little part of you just feels like smacking
your kid to make him stop.
It is scary to even think, let alone admit to
I saw myself walking up to the spoiled kid line that I could cross over and avoid these sorts of arguments for the next few years: just giving in to everything he wanted.
The point is, most of us don't do either of these things. We
try to find our calm, happy place and keep the balance. But in that moment, you
see how a parent can tip over the line from balance, and either giving in and
spoiling the kid or beating them just to get them to cooperate, behave and
listen for once. Again, the point is, you don't. But, oh boy, do you find
yourself tiptoeing up to that line more often than you would like some days.
I remember the exact moment I knew I was about to fall into
a pattern of spoiling my son and giving him whatever he wanted when he wanted
it. We were in the checkout line at Target. It had already been a trying
experience. He was looking at the little Lego sets and Matchbox cars the store
strategically shelves just for kids like him and tired moms like me.
nagging me about getting a new car. It was only a dollar. Could he please,
please, PLEASE have it? I started to say yes, but then I paused for a minute.
We have a huge bin of cars at home, which he and his brother do not play with. We have
more toys than we could possibly ever need or get through in a day. In fact, he
had just gotten new toys for his birthday two weeks ago, toys that he already wasn't playing
Did he really need another car? No.
So I told him no. The whining began. I told him no again. The
negotiating started. I told him no and tried to ignore him as I started getting into more of an argument. I thought to myself how much easier my life would be if I
just got him that stupid car. I saw myself walking up to the spoiled kid line
that I could cross over and avoid these sorts of arguments for the next few
years: just giving in to everything he wanted.
The problem with that logic is
that then it may never end. If he wasn't listening to me now, who was to say
he would listen to me once I got him what he wanted? My house would just start
to pile up with more junk and toys we didn't need. I held firm. I desperately
wanted to give in so I could just pay the cashier and get out of the store with
a little peace and quiet. No, I stuck to what I said. And I'm glad. I saw where
our lives together could head.
Was he devastated and scarred for life without that toy car?
No. He bounced back before we even walked out the door of the store, because
this was a usual occurrence for us at the store. He wanted something, I said
no, he pouted, and we moved on.
Slowly we are talking about the value of money,
how he can earn it and what he actually wants to save up for and spend it on.
We will tip-toe up to the spoiled line again, and, yes, I will step over it from
time to time. I like to treat my boys to fun things. Will it be all the
time? No, and that is the difference.
There have been times in my life that I wanted to run away from my kids when they are driving me crazy or when they just aren't listening to me.
Now, on to a harder line to talk about
that one too many parents may also cross.
Let me preface this section with this statement—I have
never, nor do I ever hope I will, beat my children. I do not believe in
corporal punishment. However, there are times that my youngest pulls on my
nerves over and over again. I just want to give him a good spanking to let him
know I mean business. Or lock him in a soundproof room so I don't have to hear
the constant whining or ear-piercing screams he turns to when he doesn't get his
Does this make me a bad mom? I don't think so. I talk
about these feelings with my friends. I don't act on them. I just talk out my
frustrations, how I wish I could react. I am validated in my feelings, because a lot of my friends feel the same way. We just don't always want to
admit it to each other.
There have been times in my life that I wanted to run
away from my kids when they are driving me crazy or when they just aren't listening to me. In those times, I call a friend. We talk through it. These moments happen towards the end of
the day when I'm tired, I've been worn down to the point of exhaustion and my
boys just don't realize that Mommy may snap at any moment.
I am a firm believer in talking about the good and bad feelings that come along with parenthood.
Most days their dad gets home in time to swoop in and rescue
me from the insanity. But some days he is late, and I need to call a friend to
talk me down, tell me I am not crazy and remind me that, while I love my kids, they
are going to wear me out. And that is OK. Most days I just need an adult to
talk to and commiserate with, so I know I'm not alone.
Does this stop every
mother from beating her children? Sadly no.
I am a firm believer in talking about the good and bad
feelings that come along with parenthood. The more we talk to each other, the
more we can keep each other in check, whether it be to stop ourselves from
harming our offspring or from turning them into rotten, spoiled brats that no
one wants to be around. I want my kids to have good friends, be loving boys and
have fun in life.
Will I tip-toe up to the lines that parenthood presents me
with from time to time? Yes. Yes I will. The key is not to cross over that
line, hop the fence into scary mommy territory or give into every whim that
comes along with motherhood. If I did that I would be sipping a glass of wine
in Tuscany as the sun sets right now, instead of potty-training a toddler,
cooking dinner that half of my family will end up refusing to eat, picking up
after a sick cat and listening for the umpteenth time why my 5-year-old
needs to have a new Lego set.