Earlier my day was lovely…the sun was out smiling at everyone, the birds were singing, I had heard from a good friend, my toddler had some potty training success and I was reminded of how blessed we are.
Yet, the day took a sharp, unexpected decline when my otherwise sweet, spunky 3-year-old looked me straight in the eyes and defiantly spouted out, “You’re an asshole.”
“What did you just say?!” I stammered, stunned and paralyzed.
So he repeated it, of course, this time accentuating the swear word and then explaining that I made him “so mad.”
I’m pretty sure my face was a mix between a smirk, confusion and pre-ugly crying status.
I really didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, drink, do some push-ups, hide in the closet or ask him how he finally figured out the truth?
But seriously, just this morning he was telling me, literally, these exact words: “Mommy, you’re so beautiful. I love you. Can you make me some pancakes?” (ha ha…he’s good, right?)
And now he was calling me an a-hole because I asked him to put his books away?! What in THE world was going on here?!
Yet, amidst trying to figure out where he heard that word (he claims at preschool, but I’m not sure about that), I started beating myself up.
I mean, if my toddler was swearing, certainly it was a reflection of my parenting skills, right?
Somehow it got me thinking about how parents beat themselves up ALL the time.
Questions pervade our tired minds: Are our children eating healthy enough? Are the kids brushing their teeth well enough? Are they reading enough? Are they eating/drinking too much sugar? Are they watching too much TV? Are they active enough? Should they be able to do this/that by a certain age? Are they keeping up with the neighbor’s kids and their friends? Will they make it into a good college one day? Should we be doing more Pinteresty thingies? Do we need to make heart-shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day to be a good parent?
OH. MY. GOSH.
The list could go on and on…and on and on.
It’s totally normal that (good) parents have these questions and doubts. We have them because we care…so much.
Yet, it makes me sad that we beat ourselves up…so much.
We place such a lofty value on our roles as parents, sometimes at the detriment of our own personal happiness.
Yet, isn’t that what parenting is all about? Once we have kids, they are supposed to be the center of our world?
To an extent, I believe.
Parents still need to do some of the things that keep themselves happy, and sane, in this crazy land of parenthood.
Our kids can be a reflection of us, but they cannot solely define us.
After all, one day our babies will be off on their own, and the parents will be left to piece together life and figure out how to function without their kids as the daily priority.
Parents need to realize that as long as they are doing their part, and loving their children and trying to guide them and remind them that the world does not revolve around them, that they are doing ok. Often times, they are doing more than ok.
Some parents may want their teenagers to care more about school and earn better grades, and they can model what hard work is, but ultimately, the kids have to do it themselves.
Some parents may want their kids to play certain sports or do certain activities, but again ultimately, it is up to the kids because they are their own individuals with their own wishes and motivating factors.
There are always bad apples in the news; I try not to blame the parents every time because the truth is, there are real assholes that exist out there, regardless of what the parents did or did not do.
What I realized today is that if I stopped to correct my son with his unexpected, unwanted swearing, which I did, then I was doing my job. If I needed to do it again one day, then so be it, but that is me doing my job and trying to make him turn out to be the best person he can be.
Good parents do the best they can do, and they may make mistakes, but they are always there for their children.
So, the good news is that after a timeout (for both my son and me), my boy exorcised the “asshole” demons that had temporarily taken over, and he stroked my hair, hugged me and said, “Mommy, I won’t ever call you an asshole again. I’ll call you Mommy. I love you.”
Then minutes later, I heard, “Mommy, help! I have a dangler!”
Ahhhh, music to my ears. I’ll take a dangler over a swear word from my boy any day!
But now I have to also figure out where he learned the word “dangler”…