I think I’m a pretty good parent.
I don’t think that I’m perfect, but I also don’t think I need to be perfect. I strive to be the best that I can each day under the circumstances. On the days when I’ve lost my patience or my temper and I feel like a terrible mom, I remind myself that every day is a new day and I have a chance to try again and do better. I also think that taking time every once in a while to re-evaluate what Chris and I are doing and see what we can do better or differently is important, and last month my kids each helped me on this number.
The week before Christmas I got called out by both of my kids at different times and they stuck with me. It wasn’t anything huge but I took note.
First was Jayce.
Mom, I’m never showing you anything anymore if you say ‘that’s cool.’ It sounds like you don’t really like it very much.
I had been hanging up the laundry to dry while Jayce was playing legos. I was in the middle of something else too, I can’t remember what, but I remember that I was rushing to get the clothes up because there was something pressing that I needed to get back to. Maybe I was in the middle of making dinner? I can’t remember. But Jayce had showed me something that he was excited about, my enthusiasm did not match his, and his feelings were hurt.
In my defense (kind of) I had looked at what he was showing me and I did think it was cool. My crime was not coming up with a more convincing way of expressing to him that he had done a great job and that I was proud of him. In the last few weeks I have not made that mistake again, and I told Chris about it so he could be aware of it as well. When he shows us some Lego creation, we get down to his level, talk about it a little with him so that he can explain the ins and outs, (and sometimes there are a lot of them), and never use the overly simple and dismissive phrase “that’s cool.”
I know that I cannot always drop everything to give my kids my undivided attention, and that it wouldn’t really be good for them if I did. But sometimes I can, and it won’t be something that I regret.
Next up was Hannah.
Mom, are you teasing me?
She had asked me a question and I had answered her back in the same way that she asked me. I can’t remember exactly what either of us had said, but I must have mimicked her inflection. When her response was to ask if I was teasing her, it felt like an icicle to the heart.
For the sake of clarity, her question wasn’t loaded with sadness or heartbreak. It was no, “Mom are you TEASING me?!” with eyes brimming with tears. It was more like she had just requested a pretzel. It was just a question. But I immediately scooped her up and smothered her in snuggles and kisses, and told her I was not teasing her, that I loved her so much, and that I was just talking in a silly way like I do sometimes when we are playing. In that moment I did everything that I could think of to reassure her that her mom was a person who loved her and not a person who openly mocked her.
Chris and I are sensitive about people repeating our kids’ accents back to them. They sound precious, truly, I get that. But particularly when they are talking to family or friends in America, I don’t want them to be made aware that they sound different. I don’t want them to feel like they need to over-think what is coming out of their mouths, or to wonder why people are giggling slightly when they ask to go to the toi-let, in that very British way.
So for me to do it and for Hannah to notice…ugh. Just…ugh.
Obviously I wasn’t intending to mock her, I was just being silly. If she had asked me a question like Minnie Mouse I would have answered her like Minnie Mouse. But I don’t want to be the one to point out to my three year old that she sounds different than I do, and I don’t want her to think that her mom teases her. It was a small thing, but a good little jolt to remind me to be more careful about this.
The last instance of calling out was by Hannah again, but this time it was to Chris and I both.
Stop! Stop! You guys talk about my slide.
Chris and I were bickering about something in front of the kids, Hannah didn’t like it, so she gave us an alternate topic of conversation.
I don’t really know where “the slide” thing came from. She doesn’t have a slide and we weren’t at the playground, we were at home. But Chris and I think that maybe this happened one other time when we were all at a playground. Chris and I must have been playing with Hannah by the slide, started arguing about something, and Hannah re-directed us back to a more appropriate conversation…about her slide.
This is a no-brainer really. We don’t typically fight in front of the kids, and I don’t think that any parents think it’s a great idea to do so, but sometimes it just happens. But I think that while I’m making a list of things that I’d like to do better with as a mom, remembering to “talk about Hannah’s slide” when Chris is really getting on my nerves should be on the list.
And for now, that is that.