When it came to preparing for a kid, I was set on the tactical front. For example, I got the house in order, read up on all things baby, and was poised to give the best care and attention to my newborn. What I wasn’t ready for, however, was the emotional roller coaster I’d have to ride for the duration of my time raising kids. I was especially ill-prepared for all the infuriating things my kids would do that I actually couldn’t, or at least wasn't "allowed," to get angry about. I didn’t anticipate those times when the children meant well, but performed miserably… like when they cooked me breakfast and destroyed the microwave.
My kids are thrill-seekers. This doesn’t mean they’re always in the mood for amusement park rides, but they have a chronic case of “let’s see what happens when we do this," like all children have. Part of being a kid is learning about your world, and you can’t learn anything if you don’t experiment and occasionally blow stuff up. Apparently, in the microwave.
As much as I want to encourage my children to discover their world, I also want to keep them safe and, almost as importantly, I want to avoid my house becoming a mess. This is a hard balance to strike. So as they fumble their way through life, spilling oatmeal on everything along the way, I realize I can’t get angry at them for the following infuriating circumstances. Well, at least I know I shouldn't.
Making More Of A Mess By Helping Me Clean
One thing I had to let go of, as a Type A mom, was that things were not going to get done perfectly if I included my children in the process. Actually, things were never going to get done perfectly, even if I did them all myself, because, as a parent, it was hard to give my full focus to any one task for more than a few minutes. Someone always needed something: a dropped bottle, a fresh diaper, or a hug when waking up in the dark of the night.
But taking care of a home for our family of four, without having all four of us sharing the responsibility, is not a sustainable lifestyle for me (especially since my husband and I both work full time). We had to accept “help” from our kids. Do I re-wash the dishes they clean? Yes. Is their method of putting toys away the same as mine? No. But over time I have accepted that it is more important to place value on their independence than on my floor being spotless… which it will never be until they permanently move out.
Asking A Billion Questions Every Single Day
Children are curious, and that’s a wonderful thing. But they are curious all day and to the tune of an endless barrage of questions. Even when I know the answers I am too spent to launch into them.
But I’d rather my kids remain curious and keep questioning their world than not engage their brain. I love seeing their minds at work only slightly more than I love those few moments of silence I get when they happen not to be asking me something (or asking me for something).
Continuing To Build Whatever That Lego Thing is
My husband and I both work in creative capacities, writing and producing commercials. So I love seeing my kids engage in creative play. But must it involve tiny sharp Legos, and must they never get put away because whatever it is being built is not done yet?
Wanting To Choose His Friends
Just because it’s convenient for me doesn’t mean my child would actually like to have a play date with a kid whose mom I am friends with. When my children were babies and toddlers, I’d have “playdates” which were thinly veiled attempts for me to get some adult social interaction, so I would decide who my kids got to play with, based on who their parents were.
Now that my children are school-aged they want to choose who to hang out with, and I can’t blame them, even though they don’t make my life any easier by wanting to play with kids they know two neighborhoods away.
Having Very Specific Taste In Vegetables
My son eats cucumbers. My daughter eats red peppers. And that is the extent of their vegetable palate. It’s annoying that they don’t enjoy a wider variety of veggies, but at least they’re eating some kind of colorful, healthy thing.
Wanting To Do Everything Themselves…
All kids want is to gain independence. And that is all I, as a parent, want, too. Except when that independence means everything takes twice as along and causes twice the chaos. But by all means, my sweet 2-year-old, please put your shoes on yourself. We probably don’t need to be anywhere for about five hours, so we should just make it.
It’s so frustrating to let my kids do things themselves, but I have to let them. I don’t want them to go out in the world not being able to feel confident in their abilities. Or worse, expecting everyone else to take care of them.
… But Also Wanting Me To Do Everything For Them
One minute they want to cook three-course meals themselves, and the next they’re yelling at me to wipe their butts. Toggling between those two extreme settings tries my patience.
Invading My Personal Space
Breastfeeding both kids for over two years each really made me feel touched out. Combine that with the fact that I commute on the jam-packed subway to and from work every day, and all I crave as a human mom is personal space. I never seem to get it, though. And as much as it annoys me that my kids can’t resist barging in on me when I’m in the bathroom, I can’t say I hate it when they melt into me during story time and fortify me after a long day with endless rounds of hugs.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.