Every parent has bad days
Earlier this morning, as I watched two of my girls paint on some leftover cardboard, I had two thoughts. First, I was pleased with my “mom skills.” I was using corner protectors for my new picture frame in the kids’ bathroom. The girls wanted to make tents for their miniature dolls with the cardboard. Creative summer imaginative activity? Check! Plus, I was finally letting the kids paint, which they LOVE doing, but I dislike the potential mess, especially paint that could splatter on our brand new wood floors. Secondly, I pondered what would happen once the photo hit Instagram. Would people think I was a perfect Mom? (Cause I’m totally not.) That our home is always blissful and perfect? (Cause it’s not.) Every parent has bad days.
So, to help pop the bubble of perfection, here is how our day went:
We decided to paint the cardboard tents, and I told the kids they could paint after they cleaned up the Legos. Whilst cleaning the Legos in Simon’s room, Simon got upset that Grace wasn’t helping so he punched her in the stomach. After calming her down, I sat down with Simon to discuss his poor choice. As consequence, I told him he had to clean his room by himself. Meanwhile, the girls stated painting – after I covered the table with paper and wrapped them in my old t-shirts to keep paint off their clothes. (See, I’m not so big on messes.)
Once the girls started painting, Simon started whining. Again, I calmly explained to him that he chose to hit his sister, so he had to clean by himself. He kept whining. Then he started yelling. At some point he laid down on his bed and was quiet, so the girls happily painted, and I painted. That’s when I snapped the Instagram pictures. Inevitably, Ruby dropped her glass of paint water all over the new floor, so I called it quits on painting. We cleaned the paint off the floor and chair. Suddenly, Simon decided to rush and clean his room. After all the paint was put away, he was ready with a clean room and had stopped whining. Finally!
Unfortunately for him, painting time was over. We were getting ready for lunch. He let me explain to him that he spent his time whining rather than cleaning. He understood that he took too long. But he was still mad. While we ate lunch he yelled. And screamed. Over and over. Finally, he was willing to eat lunch (which I thought might restore his happiness and blood sugar) but then he was mad that he couldn’t sit at the table with all the wet paint. All the other kids were sitting at the bar-top eating. He wouldn’t sit there, so he yelled more. I was pleased with myself for not yelling back at him more than once. I told him I wouldn’t talk to him while he was yelling, so he fluctuated between telling me “I want to paint NOW!” in calm voices and yelling voices. I told him whining would not get him what he wanted. He yelled and whined more. So we ended up ignoring him.
Somehow, when the girls were almost done eating, he decided to come sit at the bar-top. He happily ate. He was magically normal again. After the girls went down for nap time, we talked about his behavior, and he agreed to be nice next time. We talked about appropriate behavior and how to manage frustration. He understood. Then he crawled in bed next to me and fell asleep. Even though it ended well, it was still a long afternoon.
This is mommy-ing.
This is parenting.
Parenting is not counting the hours until the kids are out of the house. Not guzzling wine to forget their tantrums and dull the whines. Not an endless barrage of toys to pacify or threats to force. Parenting is about teaching. Mothers and fathers are raising the next generation of humans, and if they are going to learn socially appropriate behavior, we are the teachers. We teach them to love, to share, to create, to dance, to laugh, and the enjoy life. We also teach them to manage their emotions, to handle frustrations in a healthy way, and to get along with others.
I love being a mom. I love my kids. And when I write about motherhood on social media, I make an effort to be positive. The amount of pessimistic content related to parenting online bothers me, especially the ones that paint motherhood as painful, mind-numbing, monotonous torture, under the guise of “truth telling” and breaking the misconceptions of the perfect family. Every family has bad days – every parent, every kid. But the good days outnumber the bad days. The hugs outnumber the screams. Parenting is not always fun – but it’s still wonderful.
Parenting is a blessing. It may not feel like that every day, but we learn as parents too. As we teach our children to be kind, patient, and decent human beings, we become those things. As we repeat phrases about forgiveness and generosity, we can’t help but ponder on our own forgiving and generous actions. As we teach our kids to look for the lonely kids at the playground and befriend the new kid at school, we write those messages on our own hearts. Being a parent will make you a better person – if you choose to let the process help you grow. Don’t get bogged down in the nitty-gritty, stinky diaper, messy kitchen of life. Remember the hugs, the dandelion gifts, and the bedtime cuddles. Those rewarding moments are present in every day – look for them, and express gratitude.
We show happy pictures on Instagram and Facebook to show that life is happy, because generally it is happy. We strive for a joyful family because joy is worth striving for! Of course we’ll never be perfect; it’s not in our human DNA. Parenting is not about raising perfect kids in a perfect home. It’s about teaching our loved ones the skills necessary to find joy and fulfillment in life. So, snap those photographs when everyone is happy! Look back on those moments on you bad days, and remember that it is worth the effort.