More than once, my 4 year old has screamed as he heads to time out that I have ruined his fun or his day or his life. I've gotta admit, it stings just a little, but when I started to reflect, I realized he's at least partially right. Sometimes I do ruin his fun. And that probably does ruin his day. But I feel pretty confident that none of the mean things I'm doing are gonna ruin his life. So I'm coming to terms with my meanness and telling myself it's okay.
Now, before you prepare my trophy for “Worst Mommy Of All Time”, hear me out. I’m not saying your children suck. I’m saying playing with them sucks. I’m also not saying that spending time with your children sucks. I don't mean playing at the park or going for a picnic. I'm talking quarantine-type games. And colouring. And building stuff. If you disagree with me, congratulations. But if you’re willing to hear me out, I think you'll agree that I've got a pretty compelling argument.
A friend of mine recently posted an Instagram story featuring some of the lies she has told her kids to make her life as a parent a little bit easier and a lot more entertaining. When I saw her post, it inspired me to do a little digging to see what kinds of stories other parents are telling their kids to help them get through the day with a chuckle or two. When I originally posted the question, I thought I was going to get a huge variety of crazy answers, but what I found instead was kind of fascinating. Imagine my surprise when, over the course of a couple of days, I started to realize that we are all lying to our kids about the same things.
I have to imagine that one of the greatest struggles of maternity leave has got to be finding the will and strength to leave the house. Actually, I don't have to imagine, because I know this to be true. When I was on mat leave the first time around, the seduction of Netflix, combined with both my fear of Mommy and Me groups, hatred of cold weather and just general laziness found my new baby and I spending the better part many winter weeks hanging out around the house.
This is neither a letter of celebration, nor regret. This is simply an acknowledgement of your presence; a simple note to say that, yeah, I see you, in all of your loose-skinned glory. I accept that you're here. I know that I spent 9 months cultivating you, eating cheeseburgers when I should have had a salad, taking naps when I should have done a workout. But I was hungry. And I was tired. It's not that I hate you; I just haven't learned how to love you yet.
I started to think of this unfair expectation that moms put on themselves in the context of our children. Would we ever belittle the accomplishment of one of our kids if they hadn't achieved it in the "typical" way? Would we ever tell them that there was only one "appropriate" or "acceptable" method to reach one of their goals and that, if they received any outside assistance in attaining that goal, it wouldn't count and they should be ashamed of themselves?