You know those days where you want to rip the head off of a teddy bear? Where you cannot take one more eye roll? One more grunt? One more stomp? One more tantrum? You are doing your best to stay calm but you have had it with all the sass mouth from your little blessings?
One such day occurred in my household, I could see the first signs of a meltdown as soon as he got home from school. He threw his backpack on the ground rather than the designated spot that clearly shouts, “Hang your backpack here, boo thang.” He immediately asked what was for dinner, and when he found it wasn’t Trader Joes Orange Chicken with his dad’s every-veggie-in-the-crisper fried rice, the grunting quickly followed. When I asked him to retrieve the dirty clothes and bring them to the laundry room, a chore he is assigned to complete 7 days a week, 365 days a year that takes approximately 3.5 minutes to execute HE COULD NOT DEAL. Keep in mind, we hadn’t even attempted his daily read-a-loud to mom for 20 minutes battle. He’s a sweet guy, he really is, but that particular day was not his best day.
Rather than make room for my little man to have a good old-fashioned bad day, what I did I do? I disciplined him for not doing what I wanted when I wanted. I did not ask him how his day at school was. I did not think to myself, “Perhaps he had trouble with his friends at this new school, or maybe, just maybe, he missed out on the last chicken burger in the lunch line.” The man only gets hot lunch once a week, and he examines the monthly menu like I examine Sephora’s eye creams. I consider all my options at length and so does he. I mean c’mon, I would be bummed if I missed out on a chicken burger and jojo’s, or felt excluded from my friends when they played a riveting game of freeze tag without me.
NOPE. I didn’t take into consideration that he has unique hurts, insecurities, frustrations, opinions, and ideas of his own. Like, umm, I do.
My son is a leader, kind, considerate, and creative. He’s affectionate, smart as a whip, and hilarious. However, when he has a bad day or works up some nasty attitude, which happens because he is indeed an actual child, I feel bad when I don’t leave room for him to be little human with feelings of frustration. My power move is to attempt to modify his behavior rather than address his troubles or validate his pain.
In my own life, I long to feel seen, heard, and known for who I am, yet I fail to extend that same consideration for the child who won’t bring down the dirty clothes from the hamper upstairs to the laundry room.
To be the mom my son needs, I can’t take the path of least resistance and parent a robot that only does what I say. I have to budget emotional equity to address his heart on a regular basis, because if he is having a bad day, rather than fix it as fast as humanly possible, I can meet him where he is at, allow him to be his truest self, and together work toward a place of peace and connection. When he feels heard, accepted, and dearly loved, he has gas in his tank to complete the chores, eat the dinner, read all the books, and live his best life.
I can go on feeling bad about trying to control his behavior and coming up short, or I can be a source of goodness, peace, and comfort for my little man who is simply learning how to be the man he was born to be.
I’ll take the latter.
To learn more about Tiffany Bluhm, check out her forthcoming book, "She Dreams: Live the Life You Were Created For."