I read a post this morning on Offbeat Mama (that I used to write for before they told me I was too negative... But I'm over it. You know, mostly. In a negative kinda way ;) about dealing with the hurt that comes your way when your toddler (or child) tells you off. You should give it a read. It's well thought out and really nicely written. But I'd take it a mite further, because, let's be clear - my kids do a much more thorough job of telling me off than this woman's kid (lucky, lucky me for raising such 1. passionate and 2. freaking verbose children).
For instance, Boy-o once told me, as I was tucking him into bed after a particularly tantrum-y, challenging, emotional day, that I was, in fact, a rotten and terrible mother. That is a direct quote. Rotten and terrible mother. Holy. Fucking. Ouch. I have also been "I hate you"ed. O course these utterances are normal. At least normal when your kids feel safe enough to tell you, which is, of course, a success really. But these things hurt. Really, kick-in-the-pants-kinda-take-your-breath-away-hurt. Precisely because they manage to tap into your worst fears. You are a bad parent. You dealt with things badly. You hurt your child. You get an F. You are ill-suited for this. You will be paying for years of your kids' therapy. And your own. And so on and so forth. I have been called some shitty assed things in my life. Fat, stupid, ugly, blah, blah, blahs. Nothing has ever hurt so much as the horrible mother accusation coming from my then three-year old. The Books will tell you not to personalize. To shake it off. etc. etc. (ad nauseum).
But these thoughts and worries are always, always present for me. Maybe I'm more anxious than most. (Okay, probably I'm more anxious than most - who are we kidding, right?!) But more than that - I wanted to have kids so badly, and for so long, that I am really, really hard on myself. And unforgiving of myself. Because the process of planning and trying to conceive these amazing little smalls took so long, and so much out of me. I have never, never not ever wanted anything more in this world. And because I spent so much of that journey imagining what kind of parent I would be, could be, wanted to be. Because my littles were so, so, so wanted. I thought I would be better at this. I thought it would be easier, that I would be so prepared. I thought so many, many silly and naive things.
But the long and the short of it is this: this shit is HARD (And whatever with a capital W. Maybe I'm too negative. But I prefer to think of it as honest...). Parenting is hard, hard, crazy hard shit. It will push your buttons - every single one of them. And you will fuck up. Big. And your kids will be right. You will be a terrible, rotten mother some days. And you will have to find a way to move forward from that, try to do things differently, incrementally better, the next day, hour, minute. You will disappoint your kids. Your kids will disappoint you. You just have to hope, as with anything, that what sticks with them is that you love them enough to let them tell you off. You love them enough to hear that you are a terrible, bad mother.
And enough to stuff down any knee-jerk reaction you might normally have when you get sucker-punched and respond with: "That's ok. We had a tough day, you and I. And I'm sorry if I let you down. But sometimes I don't get it right. And I love you every second of every day, no matter what. And sweet dreams."