Fellow moms will commend me on how patient and gentle I am with my kids. And I laugh. I'm no super mom. It is a facade, ladies. My kids will tell you that I yell at home. They'll ask me why I'm mean when I discipline them and tell me they don't like me anymore. I tell them if they'd listen — even in the first three requests of my kind-mom voice — I wouldn't have to sound so mean to get their attention. I'm human, just like the rest of you. I have flaws that I desperately wish to change, and thankfully it has, slowly over time with many more years of refining to go.
You may remember the great poop fiasco, where my stress-o-meter was maxed out with explosive poop covering my baby, my shirt, plus the toddler adding his red marker touch on the chiropractor's chairs as we waited for our appointment (thank goodness for baby wipes and washable markers!). It was a tough moment to be in with lots of deep breathes to keep from losing my temper while the secretary watched, but it taught me something.
It taught me I do have it in me to be the mom I envision myself to be in a perfect world. I so desire to be that patient, gentle with words and directions, taking a deep breath and thinking before I speak kind of mom. I want to be that mom who finds creative solutions and redirection, who finds joy and compassion (kids can have it hard sometimes too, ya know!) in even the hard moments.
The difference is that in person it is so much easier to be that kind of mom that others admire. Why? Because someone is watching you. They are watching how you react to little Johnny's tantrum under the table when he doesn't want to leave the playdate for nap time. They are looking to see if you stoop down to their eye level for direct contact. The older lady in the shopping line is eyeing you from behind her cart. They are watching how you handle the frustrating parts of parenting, perhaps to gain some tips themselves or to selfishly compare themselves to your tactics. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. I think it help pushes us to act like the parents we truly want to be — and should be. Maybe it is pride that helps us swallow our anger and handle situations better in public. We want to appear like that kind of mom for other people.
As a mom of four loud kids, sometimes I feel like yelling is the only way to get their attention. Someone has to yell the loudest, and it will be momma when it has to be! But, I hate it. I know it doesn't add anything to our house's environment. It only adds to more anger and chaos, which equals a stressed out mom and disconnected kids. Why is it so easy to let go at home? My guess is because we feel like no one is watching to judge us in our lack of self-control. The truth is — we do have people watching us even at home.
Our kids are watching.
They are learning from us how to be a part of this world — frustrations and all. Isn't their view of us even more important than a stranger in line or our playdate mom friends? My son's little hulk anger is assuredly my own fault for how I've mishandled my own emotions over the years. Recognizing that he is one of my little watchers helps me keep the perspective that someone is always watching — so do my best! It reminds me to be an example in my own actions and talk to him about other ways to handle our anger together. We're getting there. Are we scream free? Not at all. I still laugh when moms comment how patient I am. However, it is a constant progress. There are seasons of more self-control in this parenting thing but there is always learning and growing to do as a mom, right along with our kids.
So, here's to reminding myself of my own motto: Parent like someone is watching.