So this parenting thing is quite a challenge. It becomes overwhelming and I wonder – just how good am I faking this? Because now I get it: we are all faking it till we make it.
I had a interesting conversation with my cousin’s husband this past weekend. They have two girls, under the age of 6, who are each hilarious, independent, sassy, headstrong, curious, and imaginative. They live in an affluent area, speak English and French, go to a private school, eat zero sugar, and had very little if any screen time for the first couple of years (didn’t have a clue who the Disney characters were when we went to Disneyland), have an artistic father and a business savvy mother. From my point of view, they had this parenting thing down! They were raising culturally superior, successfully, artistic, smart and healthy little girls.
Back to our conversation: He asked me if I felt like a mom yet.
For a second I thought, what an odd question. I mean, my son is almost a year and a half, so of course I feel like a mom! But after another split second, I answered honestly: Sometimes.
I mean, I AM a mom, and I love being a mom, but I don’t always act/think/react/teach like a mom is “supposed to” (whatever the hell that means). I laugh when my son does inappropriate things, knowing full well he’ll probably do it again to get me to laugh. I haven’t perfected the edit button on my potty mouth. I don’t stick to a strict nap/sleep schedule (seriously reconsidering this, however). I give him french fries to shut him up from screaming at a restaurant. I turn on Sesame Street when I want some time for myself (like to take a shower or return a phone call). I lose my patience and then feel like crap about it. I don’t introduce enough new fruits and vegetables. I have a beer or glass of wine every night. I still go to lots of sporting events, and just bring him along (see no nap/sleep schedule above). I haven’t fully surrendered my life to all things child (just about 80% of it).
He said: It took me almost 4 years before I felt like a “dad.” He told me sometimes he’d say something stern to regulate the girl’s behavior and then lean into the hallway and whisper to his wife: did that sound believable?
We want to raise our kids with proper habits, good interpersonal skills, boundaries, to have empathy, kindness, curiosity and to be healthy and safe. But we don’t always believe what we say when we’re telling them not to do something: No, you can’t have french fries for breakfast, stop throwing things off the balcony, don’t use your hands to eat that, put your pants back on. All of these things sound like I’m talking to my drunk friends at 2am.
We’re supposed to tell them these things and until we mean them, we’re kinda just faking it. And then when we do mean it, we’ve suddenly become our parents: the fun killers.
It’s bound to happen. I just wonder when.