Growing up with an older brother I learned at a very young age the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” Just as I’m sure he heard “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Of course since this popular slogan has been tossed around to every younger sibling ever, there has been a follow up of studies to determine if this is in fact true (spoiler alert, it’s not). But I’m not here to gripe about things my brother did to me when I was six (if I haven’t gotten over it by now, intense therapy is in order).
Words hold a lot of power. The most recent word on the street: the way moms talk about themselves is how their children will view their mother and potentially themselves as well. That caused a lot of mothers to watch their mouths when doing the critical stare in the mirror. We passionately want to stop the continuation of “My thighs are fat” to the next generation.
As intense as that is, there is something even worse than body image out there. These things come out of our mouths, our Facebook, our Twitter, our Pinterest, blogs, music, and basically every platform for communication that exists. Before I continue, remember: what parents say will affect their children’s view on life. OK. Here it goes. Parents are constantly spouting their dislike of parenting.
Now before you grab your pitchforks and torches to run me out of town, let me continue. Parents don’t do it to be mean, critical, or even damage their little children. They do it out of pent up emotions, a desire to be honest, to connect with other parents, and to be realistic. There are entire social media followings dedicated to honest parenting. There are popular blogs that look only at the negatives of parenting. There are endless memes about how waking up at two in the morning because of children is constant. And so on and so forth and what have you.
I know parenting is hard. I know it’s horrible when your child just won’t take a nap after a long morning. I know that besides the lack of sleep there’s the lack of warm meals, lack of TV without a cartoon character. And so on and so forth and what have you.
But when there are Twitter messages like this:
Yes, we all chuckle. Yeah it’s not like our kids will read it, but I’ve seen many that are darker:
Here’s the thing we say things like this to our friends, to our family, and social networks but how much of that is translating to our children now in this moment. If you are focusing on negative aspects of parenting, hoping to share a tidbit, think about how much of that is being communicated to your child. How many kids are hearing the message loud and clear: I hate being a parent! I can’t even imagine what that would cause. Children may feel that you hate them, after all they’re the reason you’re a parent.
Not only that, but these negativities become our focus. We’re looking for the next funny complaint to tweet. We’re looking for sympathy from our parent friends. We get so much positive reinforcement for these comments that we look for the negativity. We flaunt it. We obsess about it. We perpetuate it. If you’re looking for the bad stuff, that’s all you’re going to see. Sure you may have your positive moments, but your first reaction will always be negative.
I am really blessed. For as long as I can remember, my own mother talked about how much she loved being a parent. She told me how she always dreamed of being a mom. I’m sure she had her days when she wanted to blurt out negatives about being our mom. I’m sure there were moments when she did. But there was no soap box out there to give her reinforcement for that kind of talk. All I remember are the moments when she told me she loved being a mom. This helped me see that I wanted to be a mom; not just any mom, a good mom.
Yes, I have my hard days (like today when no nap has taken place), but I don’t want Princess Pea to read this post years from now and say “My mom hated being a mom. I shouldn’t be a mom.” I would hate her to thing “My mom hated being a mom; I must be a terrible mistake or a horrible kid.”
I know some kids are harder than others, but I honestly think that part of the reason I love being a mom is because I do not participate in self-parent-shaming. You shouldn’t either. Save your kids some pain, save yourself some time and bad attitude: Stop complaining about being a parent and look at what you love. Who knows maybe next time when your child wakes up at three because of a bad dream, instead of being annoyed, you may feel sympathy and embrace the moment?
What do you love about being a parent?