Sunday, January 6, 2019

Judge Your Mama

My worst parenting meltdown occurred yesterday. I am guessing this is just a foretaste of all that I have to look forward to as my daughter gets older, so maybe I need to find a therapist now for the both of us (or a criminal defense attorney).

The circumstances that led to the meltdown: typical kid acting like a kid in public without a coat and with one boot on her foot as it began to rain. As the situation continued to escalate and I got more desperate, it occurred to me that the neighborhood where all of this was going down has changed enough that the cops might be called. We were literally a block away from my church, but Jesus didn't come when I called out to Him for help. Instead, He showed up to keep this child from getting herself killed...right on time as the old folks would say.

Those same old folks would advise me to whoop that ass, but this headstrong daughter of mine isn't one to be deterred by physical discipline. She requires a much more dramatic oh-shit-Mommy-ain't-playing demonstration of power, kind of like this:

My problem is that I can only destroy the planet once...

So I took away all of her toys. That meant she had a conniption at bath time last night, so I guess we're showering for the rest of the month, but that's fine with me. I took away all of her favorite books, all of her stuffed animals, all of her new dolls, and I have forbidden her father from taking her to McDonald's for the rest of the month. She tried it again this morning, so we didn't make it to church, but that's okay too because God knows my heart.

If need be, we will all be on punishment because we are not raising a spoiled brat. My daughter will not be one of those children that y'all post videos of on social media. She will not be on camera sassing and trashing because she didn't get her three-year old way. And no, you won't be posting a meme or gif of me administering any kind of public spanking because I am determined to find better ways of instilling discipline. Not because I think that I am so enlightened (because there are times when the rod cannot be spared), but as I have already conceded, my child doesn't respond with shock or compliance at being spanked.

And as I have also learned, the general public would rather judge parents than support them. As my child ran down the street past at least three groups of onlookers, NOBODY tried to intervene. So if she had gotten hurt, I would have been at fault for not being a better parent because only a bad mother would chase after her child with a coat in January.

And right here is where I need to make a confession: I began this piece a few hours after the meltdown, when I was still very much in my feelings. I was distraught and ashamed that I was unable to manage my child's behavior, which had already begun to deteriorate prior to us getting out onto the street. I was worried what people who witnessed this must have been thinking. I had indicted myself as inept and lacking. When a similar brouhaha began this morning, I reacted and as usual worried if my anger was somehow to blame for my daughter's inability to control her emotions.


On my way to a brunch date with a friend this afternoon, I suddenly had my epiphany--I am what I am, which is emotional and dramatic. I am a lot of things that this child will have to address with that therapist one day. But the one thing I am not is a bad mother.

I am not perfect, but perfection isn't in the job description. I am present. I am patient. I am mindful. I want to encourage her creativity and support her dreams. I will try to provide her with every opportunity and advantage that I can to get her started in life. But I am not her friend. I am not willing to make excuses for her bad behavior. I am not going to be that parent who gives an interview in which I swear on a stack of Bibles that my daughter was always an angel who never ran off down the street in one boot and without a coat.

My job is to protect her, but there will be times when I won't be able to save her from herself. She might have to get hurt in order for her to learn. For the rest of this month, that pain will come in the form of not having any toys or entertainment. We will adjust; I might de-clutter. If I have to make everyone in this house miserable...such is life. Just like life requires that I must endure the stares of gawkers with camera phones who would rather judge my ineptness than to assist me. Yeah, phuck them too.

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