Some days I get tired of parenting. The constant dealings with my ‘want to be the boss’ four year old and coming up on to the beginnings of the terrible two’s to my twenty-two month old, my life as a parent feels awful. I’m often anxious with the kids especially when we go out; worrying if one of them or both of them will have a temper tantrum, shout, or cry hysterically. I wonder if my twenty-two month old will stop trying to run away from me every time I tell him to stop running or stop squirming long enough for me to get him dressed. I wonder if my four year old will listen to me when I tell him not to scream every sound or obscene word that comes to mind and be quiet for once and stop touching every little thing he sees when I tell him not to. Some days, parenting becomes a chore; a chore that has to get done no matter how nasty, unpleasant, or unfair it is. I have to parent because it’s my responsibility; they are my responsibility. They were given to me. On days like these, my energy levels are drained from mental and physical exhaustion that I want to crawl in my bed, put the covers over my head and to be left alone to cry it out. Today I thought was going to be one of those days until I heard another parent say, “I’m right there with you.”
I was at the park with my kids when my four year old was on the tire swing. My youngest son was helping me push my oldest on the swing. My oldest got scared and wanted to stop. He got off and wanted his brother to come on the swing. I told him that his brother didn’t want to be on the swing and we’re going to the baby swings since he was done. Since I wanted my youngest to get a chance on a swing, my oldest immediately wanted to go on the tire swing again. I told him no and we’re going to swing his brother, then we’ll leave. “No, I want to go on the tire swing,” my oldest shouted. I told him if he could get on himself, he’s welcome to it, but I was going to the baby swings and I walked towards the other swings. My oldest screamed and started in a tantrum “Don’t leave! Don’t leave!”
A grandfather who had his grandson there said, “I guess he doesn’t want to leave.”
I’ve told him and a mother who witness this that I told my eldest that since he was done with the tire swing that we’re going to swing his brother on the baby swing and now he wants to swing on the tire swing again. The mother nodded her head as to say “I understand”.
My son was continuing his tantrum as he was walking towards me. “Stop with the screaming. You want to go home now?”
“No!” He runs back to the tire swing.
“Don’t you run away from me.Come back here” I said angrily. Of course he runs away. I ran after him and caught him by the arm. “Do you want to leave,” I asked as I pull my son while he was dragging his feet in the dirt and wooden chips on the playground and then dropping his butt to the ground. I got him back to the baby swing to wait, but he continued screaming so I told him “That’s it! Go get your bike we’re leaving.” I took my youngest out of the swing and then he started crying because he didn’t want to leave… he wanted to swing. I now have both kids crying. I explained to my oldest why we were leaving and the crying continued along with my youngest chiming in.
As I walked passed the grandfather and the other mother, the other mother responded, “I understand and ‘I’m right there with you’.” She has a son about four also and a young baby in her arms. I told her “Thank you and I appreciate your understanding.” I told her when the tantrum starts; I just send my mind to another part of my brain until the tantrum subsides. She was very encouraging, saying it will pass and jokingly said, “Don’t you wish, you can transport yourself and go somewhere pleasant until everything’s over?” That made me smile and my son’s tantrum didn’t seem like the end of the world because I felt that I wasn’t alone. I’m thankful for that fellow mother who wasn’t judgmental, but was understanding of the situation.
As parents, we deal with a lot with our children. When you see a parent upset, not engaged with a blank glare on their face when their children are acting out, talking back, or when they try to try their patience, see this as a normal response to cope with the situation at hand. Does this mean we let our children behave badly? No. We parent the best we can in accordance to our backgrounds, culture, and what we believe a good parent should do. We all been through a time when our children can be the worst of the worst and all you can do is scream inside hoping you don’t cry from frustration. No matter how you would handle a situation; whether it’s time outs, setting consequences or just giving in, it’s good to know that another parent looks at you without judgment but with empathy because they have been through what you been through.
So next time when you see a parent struggling to get their children to behave, don’t look at what you would do in that situation. Try to just look at the situation itself and understand the fear of being judged by other people no matter what they do to make the child behavior or stop crying. Give that parent a look of understanding. Let them know that they’re not alone and tell them: “I’m right there with you. I’ve been through this too.”