I had a bit of an epiphany last night that I have been debating on how to share with my friends, or even if I should. When I have spoken about this topic before I can see in the comments that people are trying so hard not to be judgemental, but the judgement is there. And I’ve noticed it when trying to spend time with friends in person as well. I think it’s one of those things that unless you have been challenged in this way you just think a simple word of advice is all that’s needed to “fix it”, and that’s not true.
I am well aware that my daughter is hot headed and stubborn. I know she likes to whine, and yell, and growl when things don’t go her way. I know her tone of voice is often less than pleasant when she’d rather do anything else than talk. Believe me, I know these things in a way that you cannot possibly imagine. I am constantly aware every time she snaps back and every time I have to send her to her room to calm down and she stomps her feet.
I get it. I know.
I have tried everything parenting strategy that I can think of to help curb her behavior, that doesn’t violate my own ideals in the process. Some days I lay awake at night wondering why I just can’t get her to be quiet and stop yelling. Why can’t I just make her listen?
And that’s the thing, I can’t MAKE her do anything. I can’t FORCE her to use her indoor voice. Short of breaking her will, there is nothing I can do. All I can do as a parent is encourage her to be polite by setting my own example, a task that I know I am far from perfect at myself.
Can I expect her to be better than me?
I am fighting tooth and nail just to have a positive relationship with my daughter, but on most days it doesn’t feel like its ever enough because we spend more time fighting over why she can’t have poptarts as a snack after she already had cheese crackers.
I know that there are people reading this right now thinking they have the right to judge me, and that the blame must lay squarely on my shoulders. Its those people who make me fearful of leaving my house sometimes because I’m embarrassed by my daughters behavior and dreading those condemning looks. It’s like having a scarlet letter emblazoned upon your back, and you can feel the eyes of hundreds of people burning into you all at once as you wrestle your uncooperative child into their car seat and make a hasty retreat.
But today, today I’m going to be different.
(Or at least try really hard.)
I need to focus on the good things about my daughter and her strong, independent personality. She’s not going to be someone that is taken advantage of, she isn’t going to be a blind follower. She’s a leader. She likes to make people smile, and she is friends with everyone. She is exceedingly smart and creative, and when the tantrums don’t work – she is quick to out negotiate even the most seasoned lawyer. She loves technology and math, and frequently quizzes us on our mental arithmetic. My daughter is beautiful and smart. She is kind and loving. She is helpful and thoughtful.
She is the perfect child for me, and I love her more than I ever imagined possible. Loving her has taught me more about myself than any other experience, and she constantly challenges me to push forward and move outside of my comfort zone.
I am going to stop worrying about how others perceive my actions and start trusting my instincts. I might make mistakes or choose the wrong path from time to time, but even if I research things until I go blind I will never be able to foresee those variables outside of my control. All I can do is adapt, learn, and change as I go along and pray to God that the love between my daughter and I, is enough to overcome all the mistakes that I will make.