You are not failing as a mom
Do you feel like you’re always nagging your kids? You don’t want to, but you feel like you’re constantly asking them to pick up after themselves, pointing out bad attitudes and asking why they’re making certain choices - basically always telling them what NOT to do. And it’s exhausting.
You feel like you’re often defending your fierce love for them because the slightest correction seems to weigh so heavily on their small shoulders. You feel like your efforts to have fun are never quite fun enough for their liking, or that the great time that you spend laughing and playing with them can be tainted by the littlest of disagreements.
Do you find yourself thinking, “I really want to have fun with my kids, but they just ruin it with their [insert character flaw here]”? Been there, my friend. Been there. I think it’s important to remember that our emotions don’t always match up with reality, and just because we feel like failures doesn’t mean that’s the truth.
Emotional 7 year old
It was a normal afternoon; I had picked up the kids from school and we had stopped at home for a quick bathroom break and snack before heading to the park. These kids create energy faster than they can exert it, so if we don’t get outside for at least an hour after school they’ll be climbing up the walls by sundown. NOT an exaggeration.
We meandered to the park with footballs, chalk and bubbles in hand and once we got there everyone scattered. Slides, swings, monkey bars. The usual. But today as Hudson was playing with his friends, I noticed him getting increasingly frustrated with his friends. When I talked to him, he said that he was playing football “like a NFL player” and trying to get his friends to play the same way (read: he had his bossy pants on). He was determined to throw accurate passes, run as fast as his legs could carry him and completely NAIL his friends every time he tackled them, (the kid has passion, that’s for sure) but the other boys just wanted to play pass.
If I had been one of his friends, I probably would have thrown in the towel after a gut-check or two. Sure enough, most of his friends did just that. He was being too intense, with no room for compromise. He was being rough, throwing the football at full-force and barking orders.
I tried to help. “Why don’t you play with the softer football?”, “can you try playing without tackling?” and “if you throw the ball softer, maybe they could catch it” I said, but every suggestion that I gave was met with frustration and eventually tears as he yelled, “But that’s not how they play in the NFL!!”
I obviously didn’t understand all the feelings that were pulsating through his 7 year old body, and tried desperately to figure them out to no avail. This is how I feel often with this sweet kid.
We are so similar but despite that, we cannot seem to see eye to eye.
We are both stubborn.
We are both opinionated.
We are both particular.
We both like having the last word.
We both think that we are always RIGHT.
We don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to do things our way (and we get frustrated when they choose not to).
I think part of the frustration is that the things that they want and the things we want FOR THEM don’t seem to line up (for example, I want him to be creative or burn some energy and he’d rather watch TV or WATCH football instead of playing it)
I want so badly to have a great relationship with him, to have fun and to connect but more often than not I feel like we are just butting heads. Over and over and over again, butting heads. I’m much better than I used to be with the above list of personality traits, but when faced with his sass and opinionatedness it requires every last drop of patience and self-control I have to resist the urge to let him know that he’s wrong, misinformed or simply being a jackass. And let it be known, I don’t always resist that urge, and then I’m left thinking:
Does my kid even like me?
The other day I was running around the house cleaning like a mad woman before we had some friends over for dinner. I went into the big boy’s [disaster of a] room to put some clothes in their drawers and as I was walking out, something caught my eye. It was a list of the names of the people in our family: Seth, Rhi, Hudson, Wyatt, Amos, Brooks. Above it read, “Who are the top three best” and circled were my name, Seth’s name and Hudson’s name.
And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I’m not failing as a mom.
I think recently, now more than ever, I’ve been aware of the fact that I very vividly remember things from my own 7 year old life. So if I remember birthday parties, arguments, recitals, picture day and circle time at school, then Hudson (and Wyatt too) is sure to remember the things that are currently happening in his life when he’s a grown man.
And that scared the BEJEEZUS out of me.
Not that my actions and words didn’t matter when they were littler, but now at this phase of life, I KNOW that they could remember all of the potentially scarring (and wonderful) things that I say to them. But I usually focus on the former, because: paranoid.
But my point is that despite worrying about our relationship and trying to always say the right things and do the right things (often unsuccessfully), somehow I still made it into his “top three”. Now, that may just be the top three people in the house, the top three people in our extended family or the top three people in his life (basically he put me in his MySpace top 8) but the point is that he could have chosen someone else to fill that spot in his top three, but he didn’t. He chose me.
Day in and day out many of us feel like we are failing at this gig called Motherhood. We don’t see enough of our kids, or we can’t escape from our kids. We can’t give them the things that they want, or we provide for them and then worry about them becoming entitled. We stress about giving them the right food, or worry that they’re too picky and not eating enough. The list goes on and on. But at the end of the day, we are all doing better than we think we are.
YOU are doing better than you think you are.
It may have been a tough day, but let this be a reminder that great days will come. It may have been a great day, so this is your reminder to put these warm feelings and memories in your pocket so that you can pull them out on a day when things have not gone so smoothly. Remember that if you worry about failing as a mom, you probably aren’t. And if you care about the wellbeing of your child, you’re already nailing it, mama. Don’t beat yourself up. Trust your mama gut, and keep on loving that sweet kid.