Shopping for trouble

mylittleponyWe often see lists of what people fear most, and some old mainstays are public speaking, death, flying, vomiting – but I bet if there was a subsection of mothers with young kids taking that survey, “spoiling my child” would be on there somewhere.

Because no one wants that. It’s not good for mommy and daddy, not good for the kid, not good for other humans. Everybody loses, right?

So nearly every parenting decision is haunted by this anxiety. Your every instinct drives you to want to see your child happy all the time – but you’ve got to teach her, too, that sometimes, you don’t get what you want, and that’s just how the world works. Period.

Then there’s that temptation to just avoid the “store showdown” all together.

This is why, when I need to buy birthday presents for other kids, I usually bend over backwards to do it on my own – on the way home from work, or on a day I’m working from home and running errands.

Today, though, as a means of getting Lily to preschool without a fight (this was one of those very occasional “but I don’t WANT to go to preschool” mornings), I told her I’d pick her and Neve up a bit early and take them shopping to pick up gifts for two little cousins’ upcoming birthdays.

In a way, this was a good thing. It got me what I wanted – a battle-free morning – and it would take care of a task that needed to happen before tomorrow afternoon.

The down-side?

On the drive there – we weren’t even in the store yet – Lily says, from the backseat, “Can I get something too, Mommy?”

Oof. Continue reading

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Mommy’s temper tantrums

“I wish I hadn’t done that.”

This goes through my mind every time I lose my temper at Lily.

Of course, I was predictably arrogant about the kind of parent I would be before actually having a child. (Aren’t we all?) Yes, I knew myself well enough to know I wouldn’t be the perpetually cheerful, meet-every-situation-with-a-laugh-and-a-smile mom. But I did harbor delusions of unflappability. For I’d always been a driven but generally pragmatic, patient person; so I’d long pictured myself as a woman who would, in the end, be a zen/yoga mommy who’d never lose my cool – who, in the face of a kid’s irrational screaming and baiting, would just take a deep breath and let it all roll right off me, like so much white noise.

I’d never become one of those miserable harridans who loses it at her kid over nothing. Would I?

The problem with picturing what kind of parent you’ll be, before you actually are one, is that you don’t quite realize how much sleep deprivation, domestic tail-chasing (laundry, dishes, bills, etc.), job stress, parenting anxiety, and the struggle to maintain closeness with your spouse while still making a little time for yourself all play into your mood and your responses to any given parenting situation.

And if you bring it down to an even more basic level, I think, underlying a parent’s short temper is an anger with yourself because, ultimately, you CHOSE this chaotic, challenging, all-consuming path. Continue reading