This balancing act we do moms, is tough. There just isn’t a manual for this. What I need is a real freakin’ manual where I can go down a check list and mark each item so I feel like I’m accomplishing something. And then (oh yea, there’s more), can I have a certificate of completion per developmental stage of my kids? That would be encouraging, wouldn’t it? Because I think the words that come out of my mouth to my teens float in the air, hit a random wall, and slowly slide down to the floor, where it camouflages in the sea of crumbs and crap that I will eventually vacuum up, when I have the time. Come on, you know exactly what I am talking about.
It’s even harder when there are external influences from outside of the home (like peer pressure and school stress) interrupting what you’ve busted your parental bum to put together. As we try to parent, our children will almost always push boundaries, because hell, they’re kids. How do we keep our heads on straight when they push a bit too hard? Am I the only mother out there that is scared to death that my children are sometimes lacking in the grateful department? I know I’m not. It pushes my patience, and frankly, I question if I’m doing this mommin’ thing right. I know I’m not the only one, but it can sure feel isolating.
As a practitioner of mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude, it frankly kicks me square in the nads when my kids humanly fall outside of those practices. Yep, I sit back and watch as my kids go a gabillion (yes damnit, gabillion) miles per hour as if being present and aware of their own actions is kryptonite to their delicate human systems.
I had a fussy mom moment the other day. I vented to my husband about all the above and then some. I’m not very proud of it, but it made me realize something I want to share with you:
1) What I want for all of my children even the ones adult-ing, may not be what they want for themselves. I know what I want for them is to help them and to prevent them for doing the careless crap I did at their age, but at what cost? Am I going to bury their own personal, wonderful, and uniquely made characteristics because I am scared they’ll mess up like I did in the past?
2) I have to remind myself this sometimes multiple times a day: MY KIDS’ BEHAVIOR IS NOT PERSONAL. They are egocentric because, again, they’re kids. Sometimes they as my wise oldest daughter tends to say “can’t see pass their own nose” (she’s adult-ing). As much as my internal dialogue suggests, they truly are not trying to give me a heart attack or stroke, or kill me with their sometimes spoiled behaviors (I literally just cringed typing the word spoiled, but I’m not going to lie here).
3) They are doing what they can with what they have in the moment. Remember when you were a teenager? How incredibly confusing was that shit? Did you truly know what you were doing or were you just acting like it (like the rest of us)? Were you excited about getting older AND scared because you were getting older? How much did you want to show the world your gifts but afraid of being mocked by your peers or not be taken seriously by your parent(s)?
4) I’m one of the parents/adults here. I need to take responsibility for MY own actions and behaviors that continue to fuel the behaviors I don’t want to see in my kids. Dude…queue the kick in the nads again…the truth hurts. Of course catering to my kids will cause ungrateful type of expectations. Of course not following through on consequences makes my kids think there won’t be any. Of course my kids act like the kitchen is a restaurant because not only do I cook their preferences on demand, I also do the clean up of all dishes, with the husband’s help. I am very sure the kids living in our home have no idea how to start or stop the dishwasher. Having a fussy mom moment to my husband solves nothing if the kids aren’t GIVEN the responsibility to help out in the kitchen!
OK, so I’m doing some airing of laundry today people. I reflected on my own actions and my own behaviors when it comes down to my kids and this is what I’ve identified:
I want my kids to have absolutely everything that I didn’t receive as a child. Seeing my kids truly happy (not pretending so they can avoid me asking if they are OK) gives me an honest, pure, soul fulfilling warmth that is not replaceable by any means. You read that correctly, it’s about me. And tying this desire to my worth as a mom is a big, terrible, dare I say irrational NO GO.
My friends, all is not lost if you put boundaries in place with your kids. All is not lost if they’re pissed at you because you’re trying to teach them to appreciate the good they have in life. All is not lost for trying to raise kind, decent, human beings that respect their relationships as much as they love and respect themselves. All is not lost if you decide parenting your kids is much more important than being their buddy.
Let’s normalize the overwhelming feeling we all experience trying to parent our children, especially in the era of instant gratification. I mean, our kids get immediate answers and/or results of whatever they want from technology – how in the hell do we compete with that?! I say, instead of trying to compete with the fast paced and instant life stuff of our young-ins, let’s give ourselves permission to try, blow it to high hell, and try again. From one mom to all the parents out there: don’t give up. You and your kids deserve a good ol’ CONTINUOUS try.