Putting the fun back in dysfunctional.
Guest Post: Big Picture Parenting by Emily Casey
Emily is a stay-at-home mom of two little crazy kids. She chases them around all day before collapsing in front of her computer to write. She’s about to publish a YA book, The Fairy Tale Trap, about a girl who gets stuck in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. Emily is on Twitter @EmilyCaseysMuse. She loves to talk about dogs, Doctor Who, writing, gardening, running, kids, cooking, you name it! You can find out more about her at her website, emilycasey.com.
Emily will be around today to respond to comments. Give her a warm welcome and fire your best questions, comments and witty remarks her way.
Asrai, thank you so much for letting me post on your blog. I think it’s important that as we strive to be the best we can be, we also embrace our imperfections. It’s a message that isn’t shared enough.
I’m a stay-at-home mom of two adorable kids. I have a three-year-old girl and a just-over-one-year-old boy. They’re my whole world and, like most moms, I would give anything if it meant giving them a better life. Since I spend so many hours with my kids, I get to teach them pretty much everything—from walking and talking, to manners and grooming. It can be overwhelming, and more often than not, I feel like I’m failing my poor kids.
For example, my daughter is willful, smart, and likes to be in charge. (She gets that from me. Remind me to apologize to my mother.) I’m constantly trying to teach her that she shouldn’t tell Mommy what to do, that she needs to ask politely instead of demand things, and that she needs to be gentle with her little brother and the dog. I want her to be compassionate and empathetic. But sure enough, as soon as she wants something, it’s, “Mommy, I need juice.” without any thought about how I want to be treated. Or, she’ll push the dog out of her way. (He’s a big dog, but still, it’s the principal.) My daughter will take toys from the baby and make him cry. As a mother, this is more than frustrating. I’ve had to bite my tongue more than a few times.
So I sit down with her and explain (as calmly as I can) what she did wrong, what she should do instead, and I ask her to apologize to whoever it was that she wronged. She does, and it looks like she’s really sorry about it, but next thing I know, she’s pushing the dog out of the way so she can take her brother’s juice. So, like the worrier that I am, I’m terrified that she’ll grow up to be selfish and possibly a psychopath.
Then one evening, my daughter was watching the Disney movie Alice in Wonderland. It got to the part where Alice is lost and crying because she doesn’t follow good advice and now she’s alone. My daughter had her face buried in both hands, sobbing for the poor girl in the movie. The tears didn’t stop until the song ended. My heart broke for my daughter, but I was also so happy. She was able to put herself in Alice’s shoes and felt that character’s pain.
At that moment, I remembered that daughter isn’t a total brat. Sometimes I’ll catch her giving the baby a kiss or feeding the dog and telling him he’s a good boy. Sometimes she’ll look at her brother and go, “Mommy, he’s so beautiful.” She’ll crawl into my lap and just sit with me for a few minutes before telling me she loves me.
I think as parents, we tend to cringe at our children’s faults more than our own. Our kids’ failures are our failures, but on top of that, by falling short on our kids, we’ve hurt someone we love. We tend to nitpick their behavior and throw things out of proportion when we only notice the bad things. But take a step back. Notice the good things. When you see the big picture, I think you’ll be proud of your kids, and you’ll be able to show them more love and affection. A child knows when you’re proud of them. And I know that every loving mother is proud of her kids for something, even when they’re less than perfect.