Welcome to another Mommy Moment! If you’re not sure what it is, head over and read all about how Mommy Moments at the Monster came to be. I am excited to have one of my favorite bloggers/writers here today, Julie from byanyothername!
Julie is a mom to a son and daughter, wife, and an AMAZING writer. She is funny, one of my oldest blogging friends, and you will love her.
So go grab a cup of coffee and a donut, ahem, I mean a low-fat muffin, or depending on the time of the day maybe some wine and chocolate, and sit back and enjoy the story!
I think it was when my son turned two that I first suspected he was smarter than I was. Sure, I could analyze a Shakespearean sonnet a little more thoroughly.
But Jack definitely had my number when it came to pretty much everything else.
Most especially, he seemed immune to turn-of-the-millennium conventional wisdom for raising a fully-adjusted, well-behaved child. He defied every DO and DON’T for discipline listed in the parenting books and magazines I so desperately devoured.
“Catch him being good,” they advised. “Ignore the negative behavior and extol the positive!”
So I’d see him playing with his sister peacefully (quietly, nicely, thankyouverymuch) and I’d say, “Jack. I like how you’re sharing with Karly!”
He’d turn toward me, furrow his brow and promptly hit her with his Little Tikes hammer.
While making eye contact with me.
Whyohwhy had I bothered to interfere? He knew I was full of crap. It was like poking a sleeping bear.
I felt stupid to say the least and also helpless, frustrated, betrayed by the advice of these well-intentioned experts.
Ever-determined to be mother-of-the-year, I enrolled in a parenting course, the name of which escapes me now. What I do recall, though, was the instructor teaching me that pretty much all my instincts with my children were dead wrong.
Do not praise them, she warned. Instead of gushing, “I’m so proud of you!” when they paint a picture; say, “I notice you used the color blue. Do you like the color blue?”
I tried this and Jack’s puzzled face warned me I was an idiot.
When your boy throws a tantrum over putting on his shoes, do not cajole or threaten she insisted. Simply say, “That must be frustrating” or “I see that you are upset” then go about your business. He’ll put on his shoes.
Or — like my son — he’ll decide this constituted tacit permission to go barefoot.
Please let me assure you, my kid isn’t a Bad Seed. (At least I hope not since he’s fifteen and getting taller than I am.) No, he simply saw through my lame attempts to manipulate him early on.
And the truth is, I continue to flounder as a mother more than a decade later.
These days, however, I try to be honest with him. I readily admit to being sorry, confused, hurt or just plain mad when the situation calls for it. I tell him how I feel and hope my “instincts” will render a decent outcome for us both.
We still make mistakes (like daily) but at least I no longer try to trick him.
And this has got to be better than the advice given to a parent in that same parenting class who asked how to get her daughter to stop marking up their walls with black Sharpie.
Just calmly ask your girl this, the instructor cooed with a smile:
“Do we not have any paper?”
That’s when I decided to become my own parenting expert. And from that day on, I’ve been flying by the seat of my own maternal pants: conventional wisdom be-damned.
Oh and also?
I threw out our all Sharpies that day.
Because I’m really not as dumb as I may look.
It’s Mia who is my defiant one. The one that drives me crazy because she always seems to do the opposite of what I say. The one that will look directly at me and do what I just told her not to do. It’s frustrating and my only saving grace is that I am hoping that she is going to grow up to be a strong, independent woman!
We all take on so much as moms – it’s a tough gig! There’s no manual out there for what we do, so sharing stories like this helps us all learn from each other.