Before you become a parent, you may visualize what it will be like to hold your baby. You may wonder what it will feel like to know that there is someone to love unconditionally. You may even imagine sweet hugs and tender kisses from your angelic cherub that you know you will accept no matter what.
But, there are some things you never visualize. It’s the moments you never see on television or in the movies. It’s the part no one likes to admit or talk about. The times you not only want, but need to lock yourself in the bathroom in order to regain your composure. The moments you secretly wonder what you did wrong to create such a monster. The moments you feel sad or angry or overwhelmed or just plain tired. The moments you feel disappointed - not so much in your child, but in yourself because surely this is all your fault right? If only you were a better mother. If only you could have anticipated the meltdown. If only you had instilled more of a sense of discipline, or maybe you were too strict?
These thoughts are normal. There isn’t a mother or father alive who hasn’t doubted their parenting. So, if these feelings and experiences are normal, then why aren’t we talking about it more. Why are we left alone to cope with these moments? Why do we stare at the mother with the child collapsing in the middle of Target and judge? Where is the support? Where is the understanding?
And why the hell are we so embarrassed? THIS IS NORMAL. This is life – an imperfect journey with perfectly imperfect children.
Yet, I see it all the time. A parent comes to pick-up his or her child from my daycare and the child begins to melt down. The child screams, flails, hits and collapses in a heap of tears for no apparent reason. Maybe the child is exhausted from a long day. Maybe the child is in the middle of a fun game and isn’t ready to be interrupted. Maybe the idea of transitioning is stressful for that child. Or maybe there is no discernible reason other than being so elated to see Mommy and Daddy that their emotions take over.
The parents are usually at a loss. They often get that embarrassed look in their eyes and try to reason with their child. They try to find a solution or coax their child back. They shake their heads and I sympathize. It is so hard being a parent. Sometimes there isn’t a solution. Sometimes you just have to ride it out and stand your ground. But, you should never be made to feel embarrassed for yourself or for your children. You should never alter your parenting style just because you have an audience. It’s okay to reprimand your child in front of others or give a time-out. It’s okay to just allow your child to scream in a corner. It’s okay to hug it out or simply pick-up your child and go flailing and all.
There is no steadfast rule on the best way to parent, so you have to be true to you and to your child, whether you have an audience or not.
This is something I have had to work through myself. I always have an audience when I parent. My daycare parents watch me with my children and I am always acutely aware that I am being observed. That my actions are observed because they are representative of how I treat their children. I have learned not to censor my parenting. I have learned that I cannot be afraid to parent in front of others. I cannot get embarrassed because this is reality. My children are not perfect. My children push my buttons and cry and whine and fight and say no. My children have emotions and that is okay. I have emotions and that is okay as well.
Just this morning, my seven-year-old son had a major meltdown as the bus was approaching because I wouldn’t allow him to bring his Easter candy to school as a snack. He tried to sneak the candy in his book bag and I caught him, so I took it away. He screamed, cried, and got angry with me. I stood my ground and was stern, but definitive with him. I was not going to allow him to miss his bus (which is one of his favorite things to attempt). All this happened while a daycare parent watched, but I knew I wasn’t being judged. She was helping me watch for the bus. She was kind and understanding.
This is what we should all do for each other. We should all be more forgiving with ourselves and with others. We should support each other, so there is no need to feel embarrassed. Most importantly, we should realize that this is just part of the job. It is a difficult one with many rewards, but no true reward comes without a struggle. If it did, we wouldn’t appreciate the quiet snuggles before bedtime, the unexpected hugs, or squeals of delight.
Do you get embarrassed when your child melts down in front of others? Do you censor your parenting when you have an audience? Have you ever felt judged by others? Please leave a comment or join the discussion on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page.