I am a mother. And I am tired.
I’m tired of telling my sons to aim when they use the bathroom. I’m tired of sitting down on a wet toilet seat. I’m tired to of telling them to be quiet when Dad is sleeping. I’m tired of dealing with attitudes when the math books come out. I’m tired of hearing how overworked they think they are.
I’m tired. My guess is if you’re a parent, you’re tired, too.
I struggle with this every so often. My train of thought plows me head first into a dark tunnel that ends at the question am I just doing a really lame job as a Mom?
And while stuck in that dark tunnel, wondering and struggling, I realize something.
I have this tape that plays through my mind: If you are a good parent your kids will listen. All the time. And never ever ever disobey you.
Do you hear that tape in your head? Look at what my kid did now…I am a complete failure as a parent.
Well, guess what? That tape will ruin you as a parent. It will ruin me as a parent. It will absolutely ruin us.
It’s complete BS.
When we’re tired and struggling and overwhelmed and want to throw our hands up in the air, what we really need to remember is:
a) kids test and push boundaries. It’s what they do.
b) It is a parent’s job to remind them where those boundaries are.
It’s that simple.
(So why do we make it so hard?)
Here’s why. Because we think we’re going to get past some magical point and then everything is going to be peaceful. Once whatever happens, we will be happy. We just have to get past whatever and then everything will be perfect. Johnny is going to stop peeing on the toilet seat and Susie will remember to feed the cat and Danny will stop running through the house screaming while Maggie is on the phone and Miranda will finally figure out how to multiply by double digits.
The kids will listen and understand and we will have succeeded and Everything. Will. Be. Perfect.
But guess what?
That’s complete BS, too.
Parenting is wonderful and amazing. But it’s also stressful and exhausting. The challenges involved with raising kids don’t ever go away, they just change. We will stress and worry and over-analyze things regardless of whether our kid is 4 or 12 or 17 or even 36.
So when your kids slam the door in your face or won’t pick up their toys or draw with Sharpies all over their dresser or tell you they hate you or cry because you’ve made them finish their math or don’t come home by curfew, does that mean you shouldn’t respond?
No. You need to respond with a reminder of where those boundaries are. But having kids who test boundaries doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It doesn’t mean you’ve completely screwed up and should send them back from whence they came.
It just means you’re a parent.
It means you have children who are alive and breathing and have brains of their own.
It means you’re a caretaker and lover and supporter of those kids. It means you actually care what happens to them. It means you want them to succeed.
And that means you are tired. Very, very tired. 🙂