Professional mom seeking clarity, balance and a well deserved glass of wine.
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You know how sometimes things appear at the exact moment you need them to (i.e.: a teacher, book, raise, new friendship, Publishers Clearing House notification that you won a million dollars). For me, this week’s brick to the head came in the form of a blogpost featured on the Huffington Post, from Simply for Real author, Lynnette Sheppard. She effectively put the kibosh on my overwhelming belief that raising a strong willed child is a curse and it’s going to kill me.
“…Of course, those children require guidance. They require extra patience. They require strong leaders (parents) who gently, but firmly, remind them that they still have much to learn — that their way is not always the best way. They require parents who can teach them how to channel that strong will into useful pursuits, which sometimes seems daunting in and of itself.”
Girdle, BenGay and Sensible Shoes
She reminded me that I’m not alone and how a strong will can actually benefit my child when she’s an adult. She, too, had a brick to the head that showed up exactly when she needed it to. Hers wasn’t a book or a teacher, per se. It came dressed in a girdle, BenGay and sensible shoes aka: a little old lady at church. Her words completely took Lynnette off guard. “Your kids are cute. They have some spunk, which means that they will accomplish great things.”
Now, if you’ve ever been in the throws of a knock down drag out with your child in public (aka: while they’re having a meltdown deciding what to spend their Justice gift card on, both of you near tears and red in the face) you know that your initial reaction to kind words of wisdom from a nice old lady would be anything but gratitude. My first thoughts usually go something like this:
“Are you fucking kidding me? Do you see how ridiculous she is?
Imagine if she had to make a really tough decision.”
“YOU haven’t spent all day with her, lady… this has been building since 7am this morning…
I’m DONE! She may not live to see 9!”
“Then YOU take her home because I’m clearly the worst mother ever and have no clue why my daughter acts like Sybil over choosing a fucking outfit at Justice!”
It’s not until later that day, when my daughter is being her extremely sweet cute self, that I sit back, take a breath, have a glass of wine and reflect on how damned lucky I am to have her. Because I have the deep understanding and reassurance that NO ONE will ever mess with her or make her do something that she doesn’t want to do. She was blessed with this strong will for a reason. No one has shared with me WHY just yet, but I know it’s true. I know it’s going to serve her and others later in life. I may be dead, but someone will benefit.
Chuck Child Psychology Out the Window
Child psychology rarely worked on my oldest daughter. Why on earth did I think it would work on my youngest, 8 Going on 18, or as I lovingly refer to her, Complaina. When she was born there should have been a little note attached that said:
At least I would have been warned. She sucked me in with her big blue eyes and velvety dark hair, that stood straight up like a chicken in the wind. So, I’m pretty sure I would have treated the warning much like we do these days when a car alarm goes off. “Oh, hear that? Hmfph, doesn’t affect me…probably a false alarm.”
You think it won’t happen to you. You won’t argue with your kids. You’re the adult. You’ve got skills. You’ll raise them with manners and patience and respect and love and have the wherewithal to help them navigate all kinds of situations and decisions. It will always work out and rainbows and ponies will come flying out your butt because you’ll all be one happy family with lovely children who mind.
Little Old Lady Wisdom
Ultimately, I believe that little old lady was right. Our kids are born exactly as they should be. Sometimes with a strong will and sometimes without. I just got lucky, I guess, and mine is strong willed squared. Yay me! I’m definitely working on having more patience, empathy and understanding. I see what an amazing individual she truly is and know that without a doubt, this girl is going to do great things in the world. She’s a leader. She’s confident. She’s empathetic. I’m pretty certain that the Complaina in her is a phase (albeit an extremely long one) and she will outgrow it.
My prayer is that I live through it to see what an exceptional confident adult she becomes…and to quietly laugh my ass off when she has a child just like her. #pursewine
Stay sane, my friends.
P.S. Have some advice on raising a strong willed child? Maybe you know someone who has one. Please pass this along to them. Hopefully it will inspire them to hang in there and see the potential, even during the worst trip to