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? Huh. *scratches head*
Turns out, she wasn’t a bad kid, she was just bad for me. *sigh*
I know I’m not alone in this. My friends talk, the internet talks — kids be hating on their moms the worldwide. But, why, pray tell? We are are the boobs that feed, the hands that rock, the nursers of boo-boos, the official wipers of 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 in the fact that my kids love me enough to be fully and completely messy for me and me alone?
According to parenting blogger Kate Surfs, the answer is yes. “YOU, dear mama, are a garbage disposal of unpleasant feelings and emotions,” she writes. Yup, that pretty much sums it up.
But then she puts a really nice spin on all of this “kids are worse for their mama” drama. Giving us all a reason to feel a little better, she says moms create “a space safe enough for (our) child to have permission to be natural.” (And, by “natural,” she means emotionally charged basket cases.) But still, that’s nice, right?
Heather Wittenberg, Psy.D. and a child psychologist, echoes this idea:
“Children save their best — and worst — for us, as parents. They’re their ‘true selves’ with us. It takes energy to ‘be good’ and follow the rules — especially for young children — so when they get home, they let it all hang out. The good news is that their deepest love, affection, admiration, and goofiness are reserved for us, too.”
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.
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