I knew I would be a great mother.
After all, I have a great mother, I wanted to be a mother, I was a great camp counsellor, and, really, how hard can it be?
Ha! What an idiot.
When I think of my pre-kids self, I want to go around and apologize to all those parents I once sat in judgment of.
Of course I never said anything when in the middle of dinner my sister’s kid walked away from the table and started tossing a ball in the air. But, in my head it was, “hmm...my kid will ask to be excused — thank you very much.”
And when a friend’s kid threw a holy tantrum on a walk, I watched, knowing that if that was my child, I would just tap into my inner child psychologist to address the needs that little Johnny was struggling to articulate.
For sure, I would be sensitive, understanding, firm and whole lot of fun — and even kind of hip.
And, well, on occasion I was. (Okay, maybe not the hip part.)
I think my biggest mistake was thinking kids were basically lumps of clay you could mould. Who knew they came pre-programmed with a whole lot of attitude?
I love the quote from the young mom on page 22, of the Richmond News paper this week, talking about the birth of her first child.
“When he was born, he was just not having it...” she recalls.
My sister once gave me a birthday card that said something to the effect that as we age we learn we don’t control everything -- and hair was put on our heads to teach us that.
Kids have a similar effect.
Another mom I knew, who was also a kindergarten teacher, said with a snap of her fingers she could have 24 other people’s kids in line, but was completely out of control with her own.
So what’s that about? Is it the more you love them, the crazier it gets?
Maybe so. One parenting book I read suggested treating your kid more like you’d treat your neighbour’s kids — with friendly, genuine interest.
Sometimes all that desperate love can get in the way of good parenting. And perhaps it’s not exactly love anyway but a kind of over identification — viewing our kids as extensions of ourselves.
Whatever it is, our kids can touch a part of us we didn’t know existed. That can be the mind-blowing unconditional love, it can also be a dark fury.
Either way, one of the beautiful gifts our children can give us (apart from the hanging basket I better be getting this Sunday) is an understanding of ourselves.
My kids have truly taught me more about myself than I could ever teach them.
I don’t know that I have any regrets about how I raised my kids. Both are lovely, interesting people. But perhaps I could have made it easier on myself and them had I felt a little less responsible.
It’s an odd thing to say. Of course, we’re responsible for our kids, but about that hair on the head business, there’s also something to be said for sitting back and marvelling at the wonder of it.
A touch of humour doesn’t hurt either.
Hmmm…nothing like perspective.