Kids are funny little creatures. They come into this world as tiny bundles of love and joy, little beings that people will call adorable even if they bear a closer resemblance to a frog than they do a human child. Behaviors we find offensive in adults become cute when performed by a baby; who hasn’t let out an AWWWW at a baby’s burp or fart, or at least heard someone else do so. We marvel when their tiny fingers wrap around one of ours, we stare intently at their eyes as they wander around the room, and our vocabulary becomes reduced to wittle cutesy baby words. Oh yes it does!
And then one day, seemingly out of nowhere, they begin talking to us as an actual human being. The “mama” is replaced by “mommy,” little grunts and moans become “I want juice” or “give me that.” The terrible twos are upon you and your little bundle of joy suddenly becomes a screaming banshee worthy of their own horror movie. Parenting websites and magazines will give you all sorts of advice on how to handle your child, fellow parents will give you a ton of advice as well, and almost all of it will fail miserably. Questioning your worth as a parent happens far too often than it should.
Somehow, by some miracle, you get a handle on things and it seems to be smooth sailing. You review all the ways your own parents succeeded and failed and promise yourself to never repeat the silly mistakes they made. You will do it better because you are determined to learn from their mistakes. If only it were that simple. I was once told that I would have a child twice as naughty as I was to my own parents and I always dismissed it as one of those silly things old people say to make themselves feel better. Little did I know that my cutie pie would be biting, hitting, throwing chairs and toys, and driving his poor daycare providers up the wall.
It seems as though every time we overcome one obstacle, such as the biting, we are presented with a new one. I never would have expected my little man, who everyone compliments on his wonderful manners, to be calling his kindergarten teachers annoying and insisting he doesn’t have to listen to them. I never would have pictured him stomping on boxes or knocking his chair over because he doesn’t want to go to the library or clean up his mess. Things he wouldn’t dream of doing at home have become common activities in school and I’m at a loss as to what to do to fix it.
I’m one incident away for filing for early retirement from motherhood. I feel torn in two; one part of me wants him to enjoy his childhood as much as possible and not endure the horrible groundings I endured, but the other part of me wants to be strict and raise him right so he can be the best he can be as an adult. I can’t seem to find a middle ground that is satisfactory and covers both areas sufficiently. At the end of the day, I feel as though I failed.
I suppose that is all part of being a parent and I suspect that I really am doing all that can be done. I know my husband is right when he says I can’t give in and let him off easy just because I feel like a jerk because then he learns nothing, but I still feel like a jerk. I keep hoping things will get easier and I’ll figure out the big mystery behind being a successful parent and raising a child the right way, but if I’m being honest with myself, chances are there is no big mystery. Every little kid is different and brings about different challenges and different victories. I often feel as though I have it worse off than anyone, always forgetting that there are millions of moms feeling the exact same way I do. I’m hoping I can stop blaming myself, take a few deep breaths, and wake up tomorrow ready to face whatever nonsense my son comes up with.