People always say parenting is hard.
Mom always said, “Parenting ain’t for sissies, Baby.”
There never were truer statements. But I don’t think they mean the same thing…
Hard: Raising teens (I’m sure.) Watching your child hurt. Watching your child fail. All the excruciating times you have to step back and let go. Loving unconditionally. Yes, fully and unconditionally. Hearts full of that much love leave room for lots of heartache. It just does. Hard.
Then there are the times that aren’t necessarily hard, but they require you to step-up. To buck-up. To actually parent when you feel like not. It’s not for sissies… Right, Mom?
There are the obvious times… Most of which stem from the selfishness of kids that are 2 (and 5/6) and 5 (and 1/3). There’s the fighting over toys, who gets to do what first, not wanting to obey because they’d rather be doing anything else. These daily trials can be challenging, but mainly because it requires tons of patience to deal with the same issue 17 million times a day while still remaining calm. It’s seriously exhausting. If I have to referee another battle over which toothbrush someone may or may not have just touched, or if I have to hear one. more. argument. over who gets to pray first, I might just lose it.
Do you have these same parenting frustrations? Do you also feel like not parenting, but instead snapping, “Seriously? SERIOUSLY?? You’re going to fight over praying??? Do you not see the irony, children???” I’m making myself buck-up here. I’m doing my best to not lose it. But I’m feeling a bit sissy-ish. You, too? How ’bout let’s all pray about it? K? Just ME FIRST.
Parenting is also hard because of the tricky life-balances we parents try to manage. Independence vs. protection. Doing things that have to get done (or we want to get done) vs. doing things with them that help them grow/learn. Teaching/helping vs. letting them figure it out on their own. Finding the right balance is hard. Making the choices you feel are best and not carrying guilt is hard. And definitely not for sissies.
Then there are the once-in-a-while situations that come up that I’d never thought of before. The things that suddenly smack you in the face and make you think, “Oh, crap. How am I supposed to handle this? WHERE IS MY PARENTING HANDBOOK???” These are the things that may or may not be hard, but they are the reasons “sissies” can’t exist in parenting.
I don’t know about your kids, but my kids are good at coming up with these situations. It’s like they enjoy testing my parenting creativity. I wonder if mom can keep her cool when we do this. She’ll never expect it! Or, I can’t wait to see mom’s face when she hears what we’re saying! I bet she’ll have no clue what to do! They’re testing my level of sissy-ness…
I’m certain that last one is what my two cherubs were saying just the other morning. It started when they asked permission to get out the watercolor paint brushes to play with, without the paint. There were 14 brushes, so they divided them up evenly. Each of their 7 brushes then received a made-up name so they could play as though the brushes were people. I heard the naming begin, “This one’s Bumble. This is Mxtrah. That one will be Peetose…” and headed out of the room to blow-dry my hair.
Several minutes went by, the sounds of their playing with the paintbrush people drowned out by the hum of the hairdryer.
And then I turned the dryer off.
What I heard next was bad. I can’t even write it, it’s that bad. But in order to tell the story, I have to sorta-kinda write it. What I heard next was my darling female child say something I’ve never said, Matt’s never said, and I’m absolutely certain her babysitters and Bible class teachers have never said. She said the inappropriate phrase – appropriately – with a tone of anger and frustration. Directed to whom, I was not sure. When I turned the dryer off, what I heard my darling say was, “Come HERE, Witch!” Only not witch. Only she said that same word but with a different beginning letter.
That’s right. My sweet girl just called someone – and I was not sure who – the “B word.” And she had said it with attitude.
Yeah. I was shocked, too. So much so that I was certain she couldn’t have actually said it. I didn’t move. But then I heard it again.“I said, COME HERE, WITCH!” Oh no. she. didn’t.
I headed to where they were playing. Wanting to run, but actually going much slower because I wasn’t sure what I was going to say once I got there. It was one of those tricky parenting moments not made for sissies. There is not handbook for these. My goal was to 1) Stop the use of the word. Immediately. 2) Figure out where she learned it. 3) Not draw too much attention to it so as to increase curiosity of said bad word, causing it to be used when mom is not around. You know, to inform other kids that “Witch” is a never-to-be-said-bad-word .
My brain snapped to attention when I heard it again. “Witch! You’re not listening to me! Go to time out, Witch!”
“Annalise! What are you saying???” I gasped. Probably not the right approach, because it brought out the word again.
“I was telling Witch to come here. She didn’t listen, so I sent her to time out.”
“Stop saying that word!”
“What word? Witch?”
“Yes! That word! That is very bad word! Where did you hear it?”
“Witch is not a bad word! I didn’t hear it anywhere. I just made it up! (Pointing to the brushes.) This is Bumble. This is Peetose. This is WITCH!”
“Annalise, PLEASE stop saying that word! It is very naughty!”
“Why? What does Witch mean? And how can it be naughty when I just made it up?”
Cringing every time it slips off her tongue. “Oh dear. STOP saying it. It doesn’t matter what it means. It’s naughty. And you maybe just made it up, but it’s a real word. A very naughty word.” Not doing so good at goal #3. Lots of attention to the word here. LOTS.
“Mommy, I didn’t know Witch was naughty. I just made it up. I didn’t know I was making up a naughty word. So I can’t say Witch even though I just made it up?”
Goal #1 FAIL. It’s now been said WAY too many times. “NO. I already said not to. STOP. NOW. Don’t say it again. Ever.”
“Ok. I won’t. I just didn’t know it was bad. I just made it up. I promise.”
“I know. You didn’t know. Just stop.”
“Ok, Mom. What can I name it then. Is Pitch a bad word? Can I call it Pitch?”
“No. Pitch isn’t bad. Call it that. It’s a real word, but it’s not bad.”
I headed back to the bathroom, thinking about the odd chances here. 14 paint brushes named random made-up names. And the one that is being naughty and getting talked to sternly just happened to be named “Witch.” Nope, they don’t make a handbook for moments like these.
And then… yes the story doesn’t end there… I was snapped to attention once again as I heard my two littles singing a song to one of the paint brushes I hadn’t yet met. This one named “Axs.” (When spoken by Jacob, this word is remarkably similar to a word that means “butt.”) And no, I’m not even joking. You just can’t make this stuff up. The song they were singing, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, caused the paintbrush’s name to slur together, sounding like a string of swear words. “Axs-axs-axs. Axs-axs-axs. Axs-axs-axs-axs-aaaxss….” And so I headed back in to tell them again. Axs’ name must change. It doesn’t matter what it means. Yes, I know you just made it up. Yes, Max is more appropriate. Thank you.
14 made-up names. 2 swear words. 58 times I cringed hearing my angels swear. What are the chances?
Yes. Parenting ain’t for sissies. Because there is just no way you can plan for moments like this. Moments where you’re caught completely off guard, trying to figure out how to handle any given situation the best way. And most of the time, the best way doesn’t even seem to exist.
Another tricky parenting moment: Jacob sat on the toilet for five minutes the other day. Refusing to let me wipe his bum because… he didn’t like the softness of the toilet paper. Um, yeah. 2 years old. Only been using a toilet for about two months. And he has opinions about the toilet paper.
“Not for sissies” parenting moment because: 1) You are TWO and don’t get that much control. 2) The fact that you have such strong opinions about your toilet paper’s softness – after just two months of using it – is highly concerning to me and our future. So what happens next in this conversation needs to be thought-through and planned out carefully. 3) And this is the biggest reason this was a tricky moment… This is just. plain. sad. You have no idea how easy you have it. Some kids don’t get choices of toilet paper. Or have toilet paper at all. Or toilets. Or baths. Or food. Or love. And how do you teach a 2 year old to appreciate how blessed we are without making their little innocent minds aware of the injustices and cruelty of this world?
You don’t. You can’t. He is innocent. Innocent with a spoiled little American “axs.” But he is too young to know the pain of this world.
And so he sat. For five minutes. After I calmly told him that in this house, we are thankful for what we have. Even if we don’t like the too-soft-TP, we are thankful. And when he was ready to be thankful and have a happy heart, I would wipe his dirty little bum with the t00-soft-TP. His stubborn heart held out for 5 minutes before he was willing to give in to the fluffy softness.
Those innocent little hearts. But they so make mine melt.
Mom is right. It ain’t for sissies. Heart-pounding. Heart-racing. Heart-breaking. Heart-wrenching.