What I'm Working On As A Mother
This Thanksgiving, Bodie had a slight fever. He was overwhelmed being in a different place with said fever and surrounded by close to forty people by 9am in the morning. He was whiny. Resistant to anyone who wasn't me. I tried to be the model of respectful parenting, but I looked visibly drained. I was desperate to make it better.
The next evening, we weren't quite past the bout of crankiness and a friend popped by who hadn't seen Bodie since he was an infant. More of the same followed. Our baby just wasn't feeling his best and was rightfully tired of being on a roadshow.
When it's just the two or three of us, I'm the first to give him the room to be off. But, in those holiday moments, surrounded by others, I found myself explaining all the reasons he was out of sorts and apologizing intermittently for the extra bit of chaos. My fierce defense of him is likely because I want everyone to see Bodie for who he is - this curious, happy and playful little boy. Because I believe he deserves all the love in the world.
But also, as my husband pointed out gently, a bit of me deep down sees his behavior as a reflection of my time with him and my choices as a mother. Any rational mom-friend would shake their head vigorously and try quickly to right this point of view. Inevitably there will be fevers and falls and bad moods and as he grows, social dynamics, that have nothing to do with me.
The people who meet Bodie will take away what they will about him and maybe even make judgments of me as a parent. They may never see him as I do but there's a peace I need to come to with that. Much more impactful to our lives and much more in my control is how I react to my child when he needs me or needs a moment. Following this weekend I realize that separating myself from his behavior, seeing it for what it is and not as an indication of my parenting, can allow me both, headspace to be more attentive to him and a bit more humor to handle the ups and downs around groups.
I share this fairly obvious line of thinking with this group - women who may have restructured work lives to allow more time to be an involved parent - because I think that choice for me came with the risk of deriving a bit of my ego and identity from my kids. When realistically, they're kids. And we're their parents. And we are in fact separate beings even when their happiness feels like our whole world.
I thought this guidance for handling parenting's more challenging moments was really helpful.
Have you encountered similar feelings? Or have you mastered separating yourself from your kids' behavior - I'd love to hear your advice in the comments! xo
Featured Image via Madewell