This last Sunday we had a super bowl party with our bible study group. It was the first time the group had been around our son. Two of the women in my group are teachers and they said that for an almost 4 year old, my son was very bright. One, a first grade teacher, said he was smarter than some of her students! And everyone went on about how well behaved and well mannered he was. In fact, when around others, they frequently compliment my sons manners. All of this makes me bust at the seams with pride. Why? Because it means that despite what I think, my husband and I are doing something right.
What these people don't know is that last weekend my sister and I were literally dragging him out of the mall kicking and screaming because he was throwing the hugest temper-tantrum of all history. I have only been super embarrassed as a parent once, and that was it.
Some days it's like having two different children. He's an angel one day, all cuddly and huggy and kissy to me, "Mommy you're my princess." The next day he is like the spawn of satan, and I hear wonderful little gems like "Jesus doesn't love you and neither does daddy," or "You make me so sick mommy," as he sits in timeout. Boy I can't wait for his teenage years!
There are days when I know why some species eat their young, and other days when he amazes me with his knowledge, or his kindness, or his faith in God. On those not so good days I can't help but wonder if something is mentally wrong with him. Why does he do this or that? Why doesn't he understand the simple concept of listening, or of consequences? What is wrong with him? Then there are days when I feel like it's all me. Am I doing this right? Will he be in therapy for years because we spank him? Am I teaching him the right things? What am I doing here at all? Who let me have kids?
I mean, I am still new to the job here. I have no other experience to base my findings on yet. I'm hoping for much more luck this next time around! But really, how do you know when your kid is just being a kid and when there really is a problem? My husband and I have discussed going to seek the advice of our doctor, not because we really feel like Ethan is broken in any way, but mostly for the peace of mind it would give us. If he's fine then I know I just have to tough it out, and maybe start drinking more. And if there is something wrong then that's fine too and we'll just move on, on the best path for him. Mostly I need to hear that he is just a toddler being a toddler form someone who knows kids.
They don't tell you when they hand that tiny bundle of baby over to you in the hospital just how hard this job will be. They don't give you instructions, other than feed it, clothe it, and keep it safe. They don't tell you that it doesn't get any easier when they start to walk, and then talk, and then talk back to you, and then say horrible things to you. If they did, I believe there wouldn't be such a huge population! Hello China, I found your solution! Show those crazy SOB's a pre-schooler with an attitude, or a teenager going through puberty! But you learn life together, you go through those rough patches as a family. Some parents only mildly damage their children after it all, some children damage their parents, and some, on both ends, royally screw it up. But I don't think any parent goes into having a child with the feeling that they intend to emotionally scar their kid for life. It's all part of the learning curve.
Life is messy, as a blog I just read so perfectly put. Even when it looks neat on the surface, there's still some dirt under it all. Anyone who pretends to have all their shit together isn't fooling anyone. In fact you're probably the most messed up! But I'll take my mess, my obstinate child and his temper and all his flaws any day. God only gives us what He believes we can handle, and I am so glad to know that He thinks I am a real bad ass! Because He sure dishes it out!
It would be so nice if more parents were able to share their insecurities with one another. Think of the wealth of knowledge we could all gain, think of the support! Instead of everyone just trying to pretend that they have it all together, so much more could be accomplished by being honest. The "Dude, I have NO CLUE what I am doing here with this kid! Help!" Instead of " Oh Samantha is just perfect! Such an angel all the time, we're so blessed!" Blech! No one believes that bull shit! In fact I may start my own support group, called "Most days my kid is great, but some days he's a real asshole." And we will all be truthful and honest and share war stories and also share the good stories too. And there will be wine, lots of wine, and cake. And maybe pie...anyone with me?