I can’t do it myself!

If I had a nickel, heck even a penny, every time my kids told me they can’t do something themselves, I’d — yes I’m saying it — I’d be rich.  I know, horrible saying.  But it’s popular for a reason.  I’d totally be rich.  My kids are in serious need of some boot camp.  Or more accurately, us parents are in need of a boot camp. After having one kid after another for several years, we just got into this routine of doing things for our kids for several reasons:

1) Because they were all little and needed our help.

2) It’s quicker, and let’s be honest, we’re better at it.

3) We’re trained!  We, as parents, are trained by our kids to do things for them with a simple, and somehow convincing statement, “I can’t do it myself!”

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It’s amazing the things my husband and I will do with just a whine or slight resistance from our children whom we somehow envision as still being 2, when in fact, are all now in school.  We got stuck in this pattern of doing things for them, and in some ways, enjoyed doing these things for our children because it made us feel useful and that it’s our job as parents to wipe our kids’ asses until they are 5.  Yes, I said 5.  Our youngest has been potty trained since he was 3 (age 3 is the youngest of any our children to be potty trained, so this is obviously not an area of strength for us), so he’s had plenty of time to practice wiping himself.  But for 5 years we’ve been doing it for him.  I mean, why should he do it when he’s got these suckers around him to do it for him?

If you think your children are helpless, or like us, think they’re just too young to do something for themselves, go watch them at daycare or in their schools, and you’ll see just how not helpless they are.  It’s a clear case of enabling.  The tail wagging the dog!  It starts young and is a very powerful (and sneaky) phenomenon used by kids.  It’s not like they’re intentionally doing this, it’s just that us parents make it so easy for them.

Parenting is hard.  All kids are different and all parents are different.  We each have different personalities and each of us parent differently.  Why we do the things we do is a puzzle so big, with so many pieces, it’s nearly impossible to connect them all.  But I know that kids are usually not hard to figure out.  Sometimes it just takes us parents to take a step back and look at what we’re doing and why.  And we need to ask ourselves, do we want to raise the type of children who expect someone to wipe their asses for them?  I don’t.

Update:  Layton is now wiping his own ass.

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Those “Other” Moms

IMG_3466[1]I’m going to start off this post by admitting I’m not perfect (shh, don’t tell my husband).  As a mom, I have my good days and then there’s those baaaad days.  Now keep in mind I’m just coming off a full week of being a single mom while my husband has been hunting.  So this past week those bad days may have outweighed the good.  This week and this week only.  Until next week.  Hey, I give it up to single parents!  I was one once and it’s hard.  And a third of the time I’m still one when my husband is on duty.  Mad props to single parents!

So have you ever been at the grocery store and you see a mom yelling at her kids?  Or maybe see her bending over and grabbing her child’s arm firmly with the look of a possessed demon in her eyes?  Did you judge that mom’s behavior toward her children and felt bad for the child, and then smugly prided yourself in your parenting skills?  Have you ever thought you would not act like those “other” moms?  I assume you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above.  I’m guilty.  So now here’s another question for you.  Have you ever been one of those moms?

Maybe you answered ‘no’ to that last question.  But are you really being honest with yourself?  I promise you don’t have to tell anyone.  Remember when I said I wasn’t perfect (we’re still not telling my husband by the way)?  Well I answered ‘yes’.  I think all us parents would have to admit that our social parenting skills can differ quite drastically to our at-home parenting skills.  I think maybe the difference is, most of us have mastered in which situations we should use each.  I wouldn’t dream of screaming at my kids in the middle of aisle 4 when they’re on the ground rolling around in a full-on wrestling match.  But if we were at home, you bet your bottom I’d be screaming my head off!  Usually the screaming is reserved for 7:00 at night after the 18th WWF match that day.

But I’ve been in the store before where maybe I was having a bad day, or the kids were particularly ornery that day, and their listening skills were a little lacking on this trip, and I’ve bent over, grabbed their arms firmly, and the demon literally entered my body and possessed me, and I yelled at my kids.  I say I was possessed because that couldn’t possibly have been me that just did that to my kids.  In public.  In earshot of others.  And then all of a sudden I realize what I must look like to others around me.  I was one of those “other” moms.  I completely forgot the rules of “social” parenting.  I’m a horrible mom and now others know it too.

But why did I feel worse about my behavior because it was in public?  I wouldn’t hesitate at home to discipline my children that way.  I mean, I’ve never spanked or hit my kids, but I don’t hesitate to yell at them or grab their arm firmly and set them straight.  I have four boys for crying out loud!  I’m not perfect (okay fine, tell my husband!).  I guess what I’m saying, is none of us are perfect.  94.58% of the time I think I’m doing a pretty good job as a mom.  The other 5.42% is what we call mother’s guilt.  We’re always hard on ourselves even when we’re doing the best we can and our intentions and actions come from the heart.  Those “other” moms are probably just like you and me and are just having a bad day.  Don’t worry, we don’t need to judge them.  They will have enough judgment and guilt for all of us.  So let’s give ourselves a break and the next time we’re having a baaaad day, remind ourselves we can always start over tomorrow.  Let go of the guilt and forgive ourselves.  And then pour a glass of wine.  Maybe two.

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