Wednesday, March 4, 2015

WE DO HARD THINGS: You're Not A Bad Mom

I've recently listened to a podcast called Invisibillia. In an episode, it talked about a study on how blind children, if left to explore and were not coddled, could end up doing amazing things like climbing trees, riding bikes and basically..well basically everything. But because of the way the world sees blindness as a disability, we are programmed to help them, to do things for them. That made me think. A lot.

In my house, my kids do not naturally "try new things". In fact, most of the time, I have to drag them kicking and screaming.

One of the harder things I have to do right now, is to convince my son who has bilateral radial aplasia (both arms missing radius bones and fingers) that he is perfectly capable of putting on his jackets and buttoning up his pants. Fact: I am not totally convinced that he is perfectly capable of it. I have to teach myself not to say that to him. Part of my training, is to repeat over and over to him that he can do it. And then, the second part of my training (and by far the most painful part of it) is that I make myself stand there and watch him struggle. I encourage him. When he whimpers and whines and says "Mommy I can't do it. I tried but I can't." It makes me sick to my stomach, and with a lump in my throat I say "Yes you can baby. You can do it." I give him tips, I cheer him on, I ball my hands into fists and scrunch my toes and try with all my might to NOT do it for him. It's agony and each time we are finished with that terrible exercise, I usually go into another room and sob.

I would love to say that it is because my kid is "special" that makes my pain so much more tangible. That is FALSE. All parents go through challenging times in their kids lives. But it's so important for us to hold that line. I hate making him work so hard and hearing him so frustrated. But I know that the day that he learns to tie his shoes is going to be so much sweeter because we worked so hard to get there.

Last night, when I was being a "consistent parent" and making my daughter clean her room, she wailed so loudly that I said the typical thing that one says when they feel they are torturing their child. I said "I am SUCH a bad mom."

 But as I said it, my seven-year-old looked up at me and asked me why I thought that. I said that it was so hard sometimes to make your kids do things that are hard, especially when they cry. It makes me feel bad.

He looked right at me and without a pause said, "Mama, you are NOT a bad mom." I smiled and said thanks and then he said, "No mama, do you know that? Do you know that you are not a bad mom?"
As if that couldn't just melt you into a puddle, he was saying it while he was doing a chore. A CHORE people! I hadn't even bribed him.

Pushing my kids to do hard things might just be the toughest part of my job. It is tiring. It is ear piercing. It's unsettling. It's so so frustrating. And, if I do my job right, it will be totally thankless. But even though I push them, I know (if not gently reminded by my sweet little boy) that I am NOT a bad mom for doing that. Sure they may yell at me. They may scream and whine and bang on the wall. But making them do hard things doesn't make me a bad mom. We do Hard Things. And, with any luck, that will stick with them.

Do you struggle to hold a line? Do you feel discouraged about how hard it is? Do you feel like the bad guy? I'm telling you now... YOU ARE NOT A BAD MOM. You aren't.
Whatever battle you are fighting, whatever line you are holding, whatever hard thing you are making your kids do... know that these things don't make you a bad mom...they make you a good one.

post signature

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My wonderful children are now wonderful adults and I know that part of the reason is I consistently set limits, enforced consequences, used some tough love tactics, and made them do the hard things. You truly are not a bad mom, you're the best kind any child could hope to have. It's hard to be a parent. It's always easier to do for them than stand by.....but they don't learn the life lessons they need when the time comes.