There’s a good quote from an Anne Bishop book that goes something like “some people need to learn a hard lesson, other people ARE the hard lesson.”
Yesterday I had an encounter where a person in an SUV kindly stopped to tell me “PARENTING…UR DOIN’ IT RONG” as I was chastisting Elanor for misbehaving mid-crosswalk.
This (literally) drive-by attack led me to write long winded post on this blog (since deleted) and to take to facebook in an attempt to excoriate the person who had attacked me. I was trying to exorcise the demons threatening to take hold of me. That she was right, that I’d been in the wrong. That I sucked. Anger magnified and I was so upset and hurt that I didn’t even want to be around my daughter for a good hour…I was scared that she might bear the brunt of the emotions I was working through.
I don’t feel bad about writing the post I wrote and deleted yesterday, although I regret publishing it. Writing is often how I work through emotions, especially the big ones. But I should know better than to put it out there.
In the moment that I did those things…that I let her anger me, that I let her open the door to my own worst fears and doubts about myself, that I then spewed forth that anger…I let her win.
A favorite quote of mine in general was said by Eleanor Roosevelt; “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I consented. I eagerly consented, willing to believe the worst about myself in a situation where in my heart I knew I was right and had done nothing wrong.
I largely eschew parenting books and magazines unless I’m looking for specific advice on a specific topic (and even then find them to be of little help) because I know that my ways of parenting are not the current norm. I loathe helicopter parenting with every fiber of my being…and especially when our children are small one of the most common refrains is that “you can’t be too careful.” Maybe it’s because I can cite many examples from my own life as a parent and as a person before kids where I was careful and bad things still happen, except I was living a smaller and less happy life. Where taking risks led to great reward.
I shocked my helper when I told her that E has regularly had alone play time since she was only a month or two old. That I would lay her in the gym and let her play for a half hour…still in the room, but eating/ watching tv/ talking on the phone. In part, this was to help her learn to play independently, and in part it was to acknowledge that I have needs too, and that I am equally deserving in having them met. It’s hard for my helper not to try to stop every fall, to feel worry when she feels that she needs to tell me that E scraped her fill-in-the-blank while playing. Because it’s not her experience as a mom or as a helper in any of the cultures she’s experienced. Meanwhile, I know I’m the mother of an aspiring mountain climber/gymnast/stunt performer, and expect her to have scraped fill-in-the-blanks and to come home with mud in her hair.
I was a teacher. When E eventually makes it to a school room, I will happily send in tissues, copy paper or whatever, but you couldn’t pay me enough money to be a room parent. Nor will I feel guilty over saying “NO” to school fundraisers (mostly because I know how little money goes to the school and how much of a pain in the ass it is for the teacher). Nor will I bring a forgotten assignment, pair of sneakers or a lunch. Even in first grade (if we live somewhere that she’ll be in school for first grade). This will mark me, in many eyes, as a bad or uncaring mom. In my eyes, this will teach E to be responsible and to find solutions for herself from a young age so that when she moves out for college or what have you, she’ll actually know how to be a responsible adult.
I’m the only mom in my circle to not have her child in at least some fascimile of school at least part time. No one has criticized me except for me.
If I’m going to stick to my guns, I’m going to have a lot more nagging problems than drive by parenting advice givers. And the lesson is that I need to develop a thicker skin and not let them lead me to question myself. Because while I’m not going to win any parenting awards, I don’t suck at it either.