Don’t get me wrong… being a mother is the best thing that’s ever happened to me (I know, gag on the cliché). But if I had a choice, eliminating these parts of the package would make it a whole lot easier.
Playing pretend is my daughter’s favorite way to play. And I’m game to allow her to give me a role to take on — but my little director-in-training always gives me a script to follow. She actually prompts me on what to say before my “character” has an opportunity to speak. God forbid I eke out a few improv lines of my own before she has a chance to instruct me on what to say next. My darling daughter puts me right back in my place by whispering something to the effect of “Mom, Elsa doesn’t say that!” Well, excuse me. I thought we were playing together when she’s clearly just pulling my puppet strings. Can’t we just play Uno, instead?
Bad Cop was kind of cool in The LEGO Movie. In real life, playing Bad Cop is no fun at all. I hate seeing the sting in my son’s eyes after I reprimand him or watching my daughter fight back tears as she flees to a “time-out” at my discretion. My heart breaks a little every time I invoke these sad responses from them. Should I explain “It hurts me more than it hurts you” or “It’s for your own good”? Those just seem like tired excuses that even I don’t want to hear come out of my mouth. I won’t apologize for disciplining my kids. It is my job to help shape them into responsible human beings and I intend to do so, starting with a solid foundation of love, encouragement and yes, sometimes discipline. But saying no, revoking a privilege or enforcing a time-out just makes me feel like a suck.
Even worse than taking the reins in parenthood, though, is having to relinquish them. To Dad, the babysitter, Grandma and Grandpa… anyone other than myself. I want to be the hands-on parent who is there for it all. But I realize if I do that day after day without a break, my kids will have to visit me in some sort of institution. So instead of taking on all the responsibilities of parenthood, I reluctantly share the load. And in doing so, I’ve realized that it’s not only good for me to give up some control, but it’s good for my kids to understand how to listen to and respect other authority figures or those we invite to take charge in our absence. It also gives them an opportunity to form bonds of trust, love and friendship with people besides just me.
Another thing that sucks about motherhood is toting everything I can think of in my purse on a daily basis “just in case.” You know who I’m really jealous of? Those women who carry those teeny purses or can leave the house with little more than an ID card, phone and their favorite lipstick in their pocket. I don’t leave the house without an arsenal — water bottles, snacks, four-square ball, glitter lip gloss (not for me), several pairs of sunglasses that neither kid will ever ask for unless it is indeed the one time I leave them at home. At any given time, I can pull a few dolls, some Hot Wheels, crayons, notepads, Wet Ones, tissues, Band-Aids or a clean pair of mini Monster High undies from within the vast and seemingly endless canyon that I call my purse. I hardly ever need any of that stuff. But you’d better believe if I dared leave the house without all of it, I’d be wishing I hadn’t left it behind.
Saying goodnight is a dreaded time in our household. At least for me. I’ve stretched out my kids’ bedtime routine for hours on end. I never could just set my infants into their crib for nap or bedtime. I rocked them to sleep from infancy, and sometimes I would just hold and snuggle their warm little bodies long after they fell asleep. Up until just about a month ago, in fact, I even laid down in bed with them to avoid the bedtime blues. Saying goodnight is hard to do. I know allowing them to fall asleep without me is a useful tool for their independence, so I finally broke our bedtime habit. But sometimes I really just want to crawl in bed with my not-so-little babies and snuggle all night long.