If you didn’t already know it, you should. I live in paralyzing fear of screwing my kids up. Society fuels the fire as you hear stories of prosecution for what seems like something completely innocent that we probably did as kids growing up without harm. Social media fans the flames with absolutism and judgement without recourse.
The reality is that I can’t live like that. First, paralyzing fear means that you can’t move, which as a parent is not an option (or if it is, not a good one.) Second, my best work is not done when I’m second guessing every decision I make. Over the better part of five years, I’ve read a lot, conferred with experts, and observed… all to get to a place of *just* being scared shitless, but at least I can work from there.
I know two things:
1. Loving your kids is the most important thing.
2. I’m growing up to be my mother. My husband is becoming his father.
Littles reminds me on the regular that being loved helps one love oneself. Everyday, I do my best to show and remind my kids that they are loved and loveable. It’s so simple and cliché, but I still think it is the most important thing.
For what the first truth lacks in complexity, the second more than makes up for it. If we are growing up to be our parents, aren’t our children growing up to be us? When I’m not hyperventilating over the humongous responsibility that clearly nobody in their right mind should have left me with, I see that I can do something, which always makes me feel powerful (whether I am or not.) I can be the adult that I want my children to grow up to be.
Through a confluence of reading, I’ve realized one area where I’m letting my kids down is not letting them see me face adversity or fail. The genesis of this epiphany was when Bigs told me he didn’t want to practice writing his numbers and letters, because he wasn’t good at it. I don’t want to do anything that I’m not good at! HELLO!!!!
Last week I had the great opportunity to model failure when I started a frozen pizza on fire in the oven. (Validating every thought I’ve ever had that I shouldn’t be allowed to use an oven.) It was dinner. When I make frozen pizza, I don’t have a back up plan… it is the back up plan. I took the opportunity to apologize to my family for ruining dinner and then proceeded to surgically remove the carcinogenic crust, yet fed the rest to everybody. It was a thick crust… no biggie. Nobody starved at least.
Little did I know that I would learn in mere days that I hadn’t done anything pride board worthy with this modeling of failure for my kids. As Littles is known to do… she schooled me… and the entire rest stop ladies room.
No drive with our family is now complete without a stop for the bathroom. We were headed to family’s for Easter dinner when the call came from the back seat about desperately needing to pee. Complete with the persuasive potty dance, Littles and I made our way to the spacious handicap stall to pee together.
She took her turn and begged me not to flush the toilet (typical). I took the opportunity to relieve my bladder as well. She got all up in my business and during the moment a pin could be heard dropping in the ladies’ room announced, “Oh, Mommy! You need to practice your wiping. You have a little bit of poopy on your undies.” Truth and me melting as red overtook my face. I recognized this moment is where you model being the adult you want them to be.
“Littles, you’re right. I should work on my wiping. I don’t want my bottom to start hurting.”
Out of the mouths of babes, “It’s okay, Mommy. That happens to me all the time.”
As we finish washing our hands together, a lovely stranger smiles at me with a knowing-mother-ZOMG-I’m-so-embarrassed-for-you-this-could-happen-to-anybody-I-can’t-believe-I-was-just-party-to-that look in her eyes. Yeah, me either, but I’m putting my skid marks up on my pride board.