"If I was paid to do this job, I would have been fired a long time ago!"
Yes, that was me, berating myself last night after being disrespected by my beautiful children just one more time than my fragile mommy-ego could handle. I felt I had no control over my household, my children were not kind to one another, they had absolutely no sense of responsibility, they were being greedy and selfish and naughty and it was ALL MY FAULT! To quote my yester-self, "I have had one job to do for the last decade, and that's to raise responsible, respectful, kind, loving and considerate children... and well, look at them. I have failed entirely." This into the loving arms of my husband who told me, essentially, to get a grip.
So, okay, maybe I was overreacting. If you know my kids, I hope you think so, too. They are generally compassionate kids, respectful to adults (inside of whom they did not gestate for nine months), smart, funny, and good. So why then do I often feel like I have completely messed them up for life by any one of my choice parenting blunders: lack of self-control when in the toy store/candy shop/ice cream shop/Target/grocery store/garage sale/etc; lack of discipline; lack of followthrough on meager disciplinary action; letting my emotions stomp all over my (Parenting with Love and) logic; not making my daughter do her Rainbow Word Cards every night so now she has to be in remedial reading group; yelling (hopefully the windows were closed) when I should have counted to ten. Oh, those of you who thought I was a good mom.... LOL!
I am. I am a good mom. But I am realizing that we (this generation of moms and dads) have been ruined by all the parenting textbooks that paint a simple step-by-step picture of how to do a perfect job. When I first taught Montessori Parent-Infant classes, I let parents know that the Montessori Method was absolutey the best way to raise your perfect gem of a baby. Then after I had my own little gem, I taught parents to trust their instinct and modify any technique to suit their needs.
Now I feel like I've just thrown all textbooks into the toilet with dead fish (who, incidentally, doesn't like chocolate milk). My dad used to have a saying (yes another one): "I love you so much that I want other people to like you." THAT's what I'm talkin' about. I want to raise my kids well enough that they succeed in the outside world... success in the important areas, like confidence and compassion, et cetera ad infinitum. But according to the last "textbook" I read (1-2-3 Magic... about three years ago) I am doing very little correctly. I have made too many mistakes to possibly pass Parenting 101. Huh, this from the Class of '95's Most Likely to Succeed!?
So, here's what I'm thinking. I am not the worste mom in the world. In fact, I'm probably not screwing my kids up too badly (I can only hope). I just have a really high false standard that some teeny-weeny-beeny voice in the back of my brain is telling me I must live up to or face dire consequences. That teeny-weeny-beeny voice is the voice of my mom-conscience, who has retained every morsel of parenting advice and every outline of every method ever read on microphish in the library of Momness located inconveniently between my adrenal gland and my heartstrings (open 24 hours for those late night emergency guilt-trips). So, in order to get TWBVoice fired (or at least temporarily laid off), the one working in my subconscience and perhaps all TWBV's in other POOVOB's (Parents Occasionally On the Verge Of Breakdown), too... I thought it might be a good idea to write my own parenting handbook.
I will call it, "How Not to Raise a Child" A compliation of short stories illustrating several POOVOB's most regretful parenting catastrophes. A book designed for us to read and realize that, even though I just told my daughter she was grounded and then let her friend come over because it was easier than having to play makeover all night with her myself, I'm not the worste parent in the world.
If this project sounds interesting to you, and you yourself are a POOVOB with an interesting story about childrearing that will make ME feel better about MYSELF, please let me know. I seriously want to get together, hear your story, jot down notes and publish it for the world to see. (Of course, your anonymity will be honored). E-mail or call me. If you are a close enough friend, or if I haven't changed my Facebook privacy settings, you will have my information.
And remember, before yelling, count to ten out loud. Then instead of shouting profanities, shout "Ready or not, here I come!" After a while you will give up looking for the little buggers, and you'll forget all about what you were angry for in the first place!
*Note: some of the scenarios that were depicted in this post as being me (the ones that repulse you or seem completely out of character for me) were entirely made up for dramatic purposes.