Who knew a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old could cause so much stress and frustration to a relatively patient and calm, 27-year-old woman? My babies, my hearts, my all and my everything... they're the source of my inevitable destruction.
I'm not a bad mom. I'm not a perfect mom, and I don't even think I'm a great mom... but I'm a good mom. My kids are taken care of. They are loved. They KNOW they are loved, and they love me. We smile, we laugh, we have tickle fights. We go to Disneyland pretty regularly. We really do have a good time together. I get to stay home with my babies, and I get to teach them and watch them grow every single day. Every single day they amaze me with something new. Even today, one of the worst days I've had in a while, I watched my 3-year-old play a game on my husband's phone that I'm pretty sure I couldn't figure out (and I'm pretty good with video games!). I saw my 1-year-old make up a new little dance sequence. They're adorable, and they're killing me.
I don't know where I went "wrong" in all this. Not a friggin' clue. Back when I said I'm a good mom, I meant it. That means I tell them "no" and I exercise patience, as well as teach it to them. There is discipline in this family. I'm not afraid of them hating me for 5 seconds when I tell them they can't have this or that. I love them and they are really good kids, but somewhere in the last, oh, I don't know... month or so? Somewhere they found a loophole and, together, have figured out how to walk all over me.
I don't want to have an explosive personality. I don't want to yell or scream. I don't want them to expect that from me. I don't want that at all. So how do I keep it from happening?
You know when you're out in a restaurant and that one kid just goes ballistic? Just completely inconsolable, and their parents are sitting there mortified, either paralyzed from embarrassment or doing everything they can to calm their kid down before inevitably making the rounds outside, leaving the other parent to sit there looking around, going, "I swear my kid has never done this before! S/he's usually so great, I have no idea what's going on!" While every other patron is sitting there thinking, "yeah, RIGHT." I totally get that. I completely, 100% understand that. I am that mom now. Me and my husband, we're those parents. That kid, those are my babies. It's literally like a switch just flipped, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to switch it back.
Since I'm with my babies 24/7, I've figured out a sequence in their learning. First, they learn to eat and then they learn very basic communication (waaaaahhh!). Then they learn that different sounds mean different things. Sounds get more complex. They learn to control their arms and legs and head, and they learn to get around. Wiggle, crawl, stand, walk, run... They push themselves past their boundaries to the next milestone. We, as parents, cheer them on, encourage them, teach them, and keep them moving forward. They hurl themselves to the next boundary, the next milestone... "Mama, Dada, Hi, ByeBye!" and we're there throwing mini parties. Then they locate their independence... "No, don't touch that." "No, put that back." "No, come over here." "No, don't do that." "Here, take this." "Look at this!" Distractions. Tell them no. Play keep away. They want to get to the next boundary and push past it. They don't understand limits. There are no limits. It is literally their job, their only job, to find their boundaries, push their boundaries, and discover their limits. And it is our job, as parents, to put those boundaries in place and be there to enforce the limits. It is our job to tell them no and point them, coach them, in the right direction. My kids might only be 1 and 3, but I *know* that this sequence and these jobs will really never stop. Ever. You don't ever stop being a parent. I'm a married, 27-year-old mother of two, homeowner, and I still get coached in the right direction by my parents. (Mom, Dad, I appreciate the hell out of you guys. Thank you for always being there for me.)
Here's the thing, I want my kids to WANT to do the right thing. I don't want to have to sit here going, no, no, no, No, NO, NO! That sucks. I just want them to know not to do whatever it is they are thinking of doing. How do I make that happen? I have to enforce rules and boundaries. I have to teach them. I have to coach them.
Everyone needs a reminder now and then. Even I need reminders... They don't know what I know. I can't expect them to know what I know. But I can teach them what I know, and I can be there when they don't listen. I will be there when they experience the things I know. I know what it's like to be told no. I know what it's like to get burnt by the stove. I know what it's like to taste cocoa powder (I really wish I listened to my mom when she told me not to taste it...).
So, this stressful day of stress and frustration and stress and STRESS has actually been beneficial to my career choice, and I guess somewhat therapeutic for me. I need to remember that my babies are just that... my babies. I love them more than anything I have ever loved in my entire life. There are no words to describe the love I have for them. I want the best for them, and right now, I am the best for them. I need to keep being the best for them, so I need to be the best me I can be. I need to remember that they are little. They are learning. They are learning more now than they'll ever learn in the future. They can push my buttons and they can (try!) to walk all over me, so I have to get ready. And anyways, who am I trying to kid? If I can't handle them now, what the hell am I going to do when they're teenagers?!
Babies, Mommy is back. With patience, kindness, and unwavering love.
Mommy is here.