Friday was a rough day. The kind of day that makes you feel like you can’t do anything right in the world of parenting. As far as the actual world, everything was just fine and dandy. But in my mom world, there was non-stop screaming, crying, arguing and an attitude of epic proportions. And he’s only three!
I usually include a personal photo with my posts, but if I took one today it would just be me lying face down in a puddle of my own tears trying to figure out why my son has been screaming for 20 minutes straight about his inability to hop on one leg.
It all started this morning when he refused to go to the gym with me. The gym is usually my only chance for a little “me time,” so he was throwing quite a fit for me to give that up. There have been many times when I have basically thrown him in the car and held him down while buckling him into the seat. When it comes to that, there’s a 50/50 chance he will just mess up my workout anyway by crying or saying he has to poop so I have to stop and come into the kids room. I just didn’t have the fight in me today to gamble on it.
This is the kind of day you should just not talk to anybody about, except another mom who can identify with you, because anybody else is going to say some well meant thing that will probably piss you off. For me my friend Effie is that mom. I know Effie would say, “Wow, that sucks. Kids can be such little jerks sometimes. Good thing they are so sweet sometimes too.” She’s been there. She knows. She’s said it to me many times.
But I made the mistake of venting to my husband, who suggested I just throw him in the car and go to the gym, as if I hadn’t thought of that. And even if we did do that, it would not have solved the later debacle of the one legged failure, the monster truck meltdown, the scooter throwing incident, the moment he ran out the front door and DOWN THE STREET and the myriad of other awful things he decided to heap upon me today.
And then my mom called, right in the middle of everything, and decided it was a good idea to follow up with a really long text advising me to give him a “good spank” and let him know “I’m the mom and he’s the child.” I wrote back several snarky things before deciding to just delete the whole message and not sour our relationship. I know she is trying to help, but mostly her advice infuriates me. She seems to think I can just command him to stop acting like a child. It’s been 40 something long years since she’s dealt with an unruly three-year-old, and from all the accounts I’ve heard, I wasn’t all that unruly. She has NO IDEA what it’s like to have a crazy little boy on her hands.
He has his good days and bad days. This was just a particularly bad day. And after hours of being beat up emotionally all day, all I needed was some compassion. Some understanding.
What I really needed to hear was, “You’re doing a good job. Some days are tough. He still loves you. All kids can be like that. Hang in there.”
So next time some mom you know is having a rough day, please for the love of God do NOT give her advice on how to manage her child, and just let her know she is doing an OK job. She doesn’t have to be doing fantastic. That may be stretching it. Let’s keep it believable. I’m OK. You’re OK. We all made it through today in one piece and sometimes that’s enough.