Motherhood comes with a whole host of shared experiences. Maybe one of the most common, though? A stranger compliments how “well-behaved” our children seem — and we grin sheepishly, mutter a small “thank you”, and hurriedly hope that our beloved sons and daughters don’t choose that moment to act out like they have been all day!
For every compliment that we might receive, every encouragement of just how well we are raising our children, a whole host of doubts pops into mind: Me? How am I doing a great job of raising my child, with all of their temper tantrums, the yelling, the hitting just for not giving them what they want? So many times, when we receive these terms of endearment from someone else in the face of our child’s bad behavior in private, it doesn’t seem to make much of any sense…
As a parent, I second-guess every. single. decision. Every time I choose to discipline my child, and every time I don’t. How I speak to her, the activities I plan for her, the schools I’ve chosen for her… And the pressure to prevent her from growing up to be “a bad person” can be almost unbearable! Especially with the constant expectations of social groups, and how we fit (or don’t, as the case may more often be) into them.
But then, every once in a while, after a whole day of screaming, crying, fighting, discipline, time-outs, and pouting… I’ll see my lovely little daughter, politely playing with another child. Sharing. Laughing. Enjoying life, as only a child can.
And you know what? In those moments, it’s all worth it. What’s more, those anonymous strangers’ kind words seem to make a little more sense: I am doing a good job of raising my daughter, precisely because she feels free to act out with me. The amount that a child is learning, on a day to day basis, is astonishing — and, truth be told, if my daughter weren’t talking back to me, screaming, crying, pouting… I would be more worried, for the lack of connection that we could share during this part of her life.
Growing up is tough work — not least of all on our children. Because of how much practice we’ve had at it, we adults often seem to forget that the world is a hard place to figure out. How much more so for a still-developing young body and mind?
So, I’ll take the tantrums, as long as it means that I get to be there with her, every step of the way, as she grows into the person she’s meant to be.
This article inspired by one found here.