Most days are tough parenting days for me. It doesn't come naturally to me, which took me by surprise. I always expected motherhood to be filled with sweet moments...you know, cookie baking ala Rice Krispies treat making commercials, complete with a touch of flour on the nose and licked beaters. Little did I know that I would be one of those paranoid moms who doesn't let her kids lick the beaters for fear of salmonella poisoning, and who wipes the counters in an almost OCD type of way after each ingredient is stirred in.
What should be a wonderfully fun and yummy way to spend a couple of hours ends up being an anxiety-ridden, tantrum-inducing activity because I am incapable of letting go of control for a moment and enjoying myself with my kids. It's like I am unable to stop and appreciate them for the sweet, messy, fun little people that they are. How sad is that? Now imagine being surprised to learn this about yourself. Yeah. It sucks.
So, I find I have to work REALLY hard to be a good mom...and I still fall down on the job.
I reaped a big reward yesterday, however. It was a moment that made me joyful and proud. I recognized it's power immediately, which is very unlike me. Here's what happened: I took the kids to the playground. A girl approached Buggy and asked her to play with her and another friend. The girls were four and five years old. Buggy wanted to hunt for bugs and worms, but the other girls wanted to play tag. I encouraged her to join them first, and that I would help her find bugs and worms later (yuck). She happily skipped off to join her new friends. A little while later she came back to me and let me know she didn't want to play with the those girls anymore. I asked her why. She told me (in a matter-of-fact way, not in a tattling way) they were being mean to other kids and teasing them, and she didn't think it was nice. I was never as proud as I was at that moment. My daughter, my just barely four-year-old, was mature and free-thinking enough to recognize a bad situation and remove herself from it. Despite the appeal of playing with other kids (never mind that they were also older!) she kept true to herself and the values that we taught her, and did what was right.
I hope this means that my husband and I are doing some things right! I might squash her right to lick the beaters, but not her ability to make up her own mind and stick to what she knows is right!