When my first daughter started preschool, I held my breath the whole first week, expecting to be called for an early pick-up. Surely she would throw one of her outrageous temper tantrums or epic meltdowns, or worse, have some sort of irrecoverable pooping incident.
This was my child for whom I perfected the Heisman Trophy hold and carry. This was my feel-all-the-feelings — and loudly — child. She had a knack for going absolutely bananas at the drop of a hat. And I mean that literally. One time she dropped her hat in Target, and the world ended.
But all my worry was for nothing. At school (and really anywhere else in the vast universe I was not), she was an absolute angel. Her teachers gushed about her behavior, including her great listening and impressive ability to share and sit quietly.
My kid? Really?
Turns out, she wasn’t a bad kid, she was just bad for me.
I know I’m not alone in this. My friends talk, the internet talks — kids are harder on their moms. But, why? We feed them, we rock them, we nurse their boo-boos, we even wipe their precious butts. In what kind of sick universe does this make sense?
Should I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone? That moms everywhere get this struggle? Maybe.
We’ve all had dark thoughts about hoping our kids will wait to poop until daddy gets home, but they never do. They really do hold it — the poop, the emotions — just for us. I’m telling you, this motherhood thing is a tough job. Should I relish the fact that my kids love me enough to be fully and completely messy for me and me alone?
The answer is…yes. According to Annie Gurton, a psychological and relationship therapist in Australia, it’s actually kind of a compliment. “For kids who are well connected to their parents, their parents are available and in tune with them, so testing the boundaries is a normal thing to do,” Gurton says. “If Mom is secure herself and the kids know that their relationship with her is safe, they feel able to goof around, disobey and stretch the boundaries knowing that she is there for them.”
So the next time your sweet angel throws down in the middle of the grocery store, or poops on the floor, or whines their way through whole days and weeks, keep your chin up.
You are doing a great job. You have made your child feel safe. Your child knows you love them. And, when they are releasing their bowels upon you and whine-crying and shriek-screaming and attempting to slap your face, remember that love is an epic achievement.