Being a mom is never easy. Anyone who says it is an easy thing must have an army of nannies and maids around to help out. Yes, of course, being a mom is a labor of love and it can be infinitely rewarding. But “rewarding” and “easy” are most definitely not the same thing at all.
Then there’s being a mom to “that kid.” You know the kid I’m talking about. Every class, every play group, every event where there’s a group of parents and children has at least one of “that kid” in its midst. The kid who is more likely to poke his neighbor during the Christmas concert instead of singing along. The kid who runs through the library screaming. You know, “that kid.”
I’m beginning to realize that I’m the mom to “that kid.” And it’s a painful realization.
I want more than anything to take Norton out in public and be proud of his behavior. I want to watch my little boy do things and beam with pride. I want to watch him do things like run around and play on the swings. I want to watch him go to his gymnastics class and actually do what he’s supposed to instead of run around like a little spaz. I’d like to be able to take him to the library for toddler time without worrying about him being a monster. I’d like to be able to take him to Strong Start without becoming a completely overwhelmed mom and feeling like a failure because he’s a terror during circle time.
More than anything, I want to be proud of the child that I have instead of seeing each outing as yet another opportunity for public humiliation.
I’ve made excuses for his behavior. He’s frustrated because of his toddler language delay; he can’t communicate as well as other kids his age and it’s hard for him when I don’t understand what he wants. He’s having trouble adjusting to a new sibling. Maybe it’s normal toddler behavior and I’m just not seeing it as normal. Maybe the other little kids are just as terrible and I’m not noticing it because I’m so busy trying to wrangle Norton and stop him from being an absolute jerk.
But it seems like more often than not, any effort to do something cool with him outside of the house and to get him socialized around other children is just a miserable, complete disaster. I just want to hide at home with him rather than go out and have him be “that kid.” Or, more to the point, I don’t want to feel the eyes of other parents on me, judging me as a complete and utter failure as a parent for not being able to manage my toddler. I don’t need their judgment; my own condemnation is hard enough. Seeing it reaffirmed on their faces as I pick up a screaming toddler and try not to melt down myself is even worse.
And then I feel guilt, like it’s my fault he’s sometimes difficult when we’re out. Maybe he’s rebelling because I wish it could be different; maybe it’s some kind of punishment for not being happy with my kid as he is. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe he’s like this because I push too hard for him to behave. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic. Maybe everyone goes through phases of feeling like they are the parent to “that kid” and this is just my turn.
Instead of looking at the parent of “that kid” and think that she’s a failure who isn’t even trying, maybe cut her a break. I assure you, I’m trying. I really am. But being the mom to “that kid” has an extra challenge: the challenge of trying to be satisfied with the child you’ve got instead of the one you wish you had.
Even so, I won’t give up. I’ll keep trying and trying to teach Norton to behave himself. I love my boy, and I’m hoping that being “that kid” is just a phase that he’ll outgrow.
Have you ever been the parent to “that kid”? How did you cope?