Why I don't always follow through with what I tell my kids
It had been a great day. Having stolen the kids from school for an impromptu trip to the pumpkin patch and further raising my stock as a great mom to my kids, I was riding a high that only moms who are feeling successful at the moment understand. Three little girls, pumpkins in hand, were safely tucked in their car seats with smiles on their faces. My camera, sitting next to me on the seat, housed 235 pieces of photo evidence that the day had indeed been a success.
Then it started.
The middle child could not get off the ID bracelet from the patch, the oldest could not reach the book she wanted and the little one wanted water. The car erupted into chaos just five minutes into the trip home. Not being able to help them at all and annoyed that this perfect day was going to have a black mark, I tried to reason with the kids to stop the escalation.
I failed and finally went to what I thought would work: "You have lost going to the book fair tonight! But if you can get it together and be nice, you can earn it back."
My 6-year-old shook me into reality: "You always say that mommy and we always earn it back without doing anything!"
She proved she knew I lack the ability to follow through and shattered my image of being a good mom.
I think we all do it. We make threats, take away things and then cave and go back on our word. Facebook is full of people ready to pounce on a mom who does something we all deem as bad parenting. I, myself, have fallen victim to the 'perfect moms' who degrade, judge and demean moms who don't parent like they do. I actually hesitate to ever post that I make mistakes — but I make them, all the time.
Truth be told, I don't think not following through all the time is a bad thing.
**ducking to avoid tomatoes from the perfect moms club**
Our kids are told "no" all the time. No, you may not hit your sister over the head with a book. No, you may paint on my walls. No, you may not jump from the top bunk to the other top bunk with a cape wrapped around your neck while screaming, "I can fly!" No, no, no. You cannot do that, say that, eat that, think that, be that, cry about that, play with that or argue about that.
No has to be the most commonly used word in the parental language, but we still worry that kids will grow up thinking there are no consequences. This is so much so that if we see a mom slip up, we pounce on her like a cat on the best black-market catnip. I am here to say that though following through is absolutely necessary in most cases, it is totally OK if you don't sometimes.
I am the kind of mom who thinks most things can be fixed. Aside from death, most things in life can be adjusted to and resolved in some sort of manner if you work hard to get through them. Maybe I get this view from my very rocky childhood or from blind naiveté, but I think you can earn back some of what you lost by making better decisions and accepting your failures as lessons. When I tell my kids that they have lost something but can earn it back, I do think they are learning a valuable lesson after all.
I will admit, Megan's comment that they "always" earn it back stung a little. As far as they knew, they had lost the book fair. It was only after I got reports from all three teachers that their conduct was perfect, their kindness apparent towards other kids and their grades were more than acceptable at the parent-teachers conferences that night that I told them they had earned getting books back. The jubilation was contagious, and I did feel like a good mom.
In the grand scheme of things, they are becoming the ladies I want them to be.
Being tired and cranky in the car after a great day has not changed that one bit.