Saturday, February 23, 2013

Inadequacy and Control Issues

There is a moment when you feel completely inadequate to parent your children. They are in control, and you are losing control. They are winning, and you are losing. And then you realize the reason you're shouting at your kids today doesn't have much to do with them at all, but with you.

I'm angry. I'm angry at myself for not being the perfect mother. I can't control my children all the time. I feel guilty and ashamed that I can't quite "get it right." I know in my head how it should be, why is it not happening that way? 

Before we had kids we saw that woman in the grocery store who's child was kicking and screaming (and was obviously not spanked enough, right?), and silently judged her for not being in control of that mess. And now here we are, mothers and fathers, imperfect humans entrusted with the growth of other imperfect humans, and well, I'm just going to say it: we are expecting too much from ourselves AND our kids. 

Often I think it's my tension and control issues that sometimes lead to my kids throwing fits in public. They rebel. They can't win, they can not possibly meet my insane expectations: no touching, no talking, no moving of any kind. Please don't pull that, be quiet, don't ask for cookies. If I were them I'd probably have a tantrum on the floor too. First chance I got. No one wins here.
What if instead we expected our kids to be imperfect? I'm not saying to expect misbehavior or naughtiness, I'm saying lets expect our children to behave like children. And then, lets give ourselves a break. We do a lot for our children, we love them, feed them, bathe them, teach them, and hopefully we play with them and give them the freedom to explore the world around them as well. I am doing okay. You are doing okay.  If at the end of the day your kids are still smiling and telling you they love you and forgiving you for your failures, should we not follow suit? 

Being a parent is the hardest and the most amazing job on the planet. Who hasn't heard that? We all nod in agreement. That doesn't mean we have license to be down on ourselves, or freedom to pull out our hair or lose our voices from losing our cool. It means we have a hard job and we will never be able to meet the perfect expectations we had for ourselves when we were younger. And we were certainly unaware of the reality of what we'd face in that grocery store isle.

But now we know; and knowing is half the battle. Remember, love is a battlefield; and so is parenting.

I really could do that all day...