So last week I shared about how hard it is for me to ditch the to-do list and let go of completing it with precision. I have been working really hard since I published that post to stay in the moment and just let the day go where it goes. Today, I am really proud of how my day went with my kids. Mostly.
It’s Saturday and my husband is gearing up for his busy season at work which means he is working another full day today. He was away from home last week for 3 whole days. Now this week he is working 6 days straight. I know a lot of parents live like this, but it is stressful living like that week after week, year after year with zero back up. No family member around the corner to offer help. No one to call so I can run to get milk. I have to schelp both kids every where I go for the smallest of reasons. It’s just me loading two kids into the car, two kids with very big opinions, and very big emotions that can drop like a bomb at any time.
Anyway I am really proud of myself for not losing my shit in the store with my two adorable, yet whiny and demanding kids today. No really when they want something (and not simply toys) I can’t always redirect. I have to spend at least 5 minutes explaining the why portion of it or it blows up to be a huge meltdown demanding my attention (and anyone else passing by). It isn’t always easy to let go of the feeling of annoyance while running on empty myself.
Today, I simply needed two items from Target.
It turned into the longest 45 minutes of my life. I promised the kids they could have one little toy puppy for their doll set. They earned it, I just picked the prize. They picked out these little pups weeks ago and I said, “some day.” But when it came time to deliver on my promise suddenly these little stuffies weren’t what they wanted. So, now we are in the dollar section playing eenie meenie minie mo to decide on lesser prizes. Then last minute my one girl came to her senses and realized she really wanted that little puppy dog. So, we put her junky prize back and she clutched her little prize with deep affection.
My kids were just so overwhelmed by picking just ONE thing. They are so deeply emotional with their purchases that selecting just the one BEST thing makes them over think with worry they’ll make the wrong choice. I remember having moments like that as a kid. And the parenting instinct is to just rush them through. Tell them they get one thing, or nothing; or we say chose or I’ll chose for you. But there is a greater lesson to be learned. They need to learn how to make a decision, and I need to learn patience with their process. I am a pretty quick decision maker. I know what I want and I get it. If I am torn I walk away and think about it before coming back. But my kids are super smart and they want to know exactly why they can’t have both before they can move on and settle for just the one thing.
As my daughter stood on the verge of tears choosing between two small toys I decided to meet her where she was instead of powering her through this. I explained to her the benefits and consequences of her choices. I gave her a moment to process and offered a solution to come back for the other prize later.
After walking back and forth in each department for what felt like forever, she finally made a decision. She chose a stationary set in a cute matching pouch. Then she happily ran it through the scanner at the check out line. She opened it in the car and was so excited by what was inside. She was happy with her choice. And I was happy this didn’t end with me carrying a screaming child through the parking lot.
I can hear the other parents saying, “I’d never let my kid get away with that.” “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” “I would never have taken that long to help my kid decide on a toy.” Well, thankfully she isn’t your kid she is mine, and I’m the one that has to live with her. I’m the one that needs to teach her these lessons of letting go and understanding how the world works. It isn’t up to anyone else to decide the teaching method.
In a perfect world I would have parked the car ran into the store for my two little items and left in under 5 minutes. In the not so perfect world there is usually tears and tantrums. This time though I am proud of all of us for keeping it together. But most of all I am really proud of me. Leaving behind that agenda for perfection, and making good time to get in and out of the store as my sole mission, left room for the bigger mission of being there for my kid emotionally. That’s what she’ll remember more.
Note: Some kids are more sensitive than others. Being a sensitive kid doesn’t make them spoiled or cause them to misbehave. They just require an extraordinary amount of patience and empathy. Unless you know a child personally please don’t assume to know them. Or that you could do a better job raising them.
The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia