Maybe you’ve been here before.
Sweat is dripping down your back, your heartbeat quickens, your breath shallows. Your eyes are darting around and thoughts are racing through your mind.
Why is this happening here?
Why won’t she just listen?
I don’t have time for this right now!
This is embarrassing!
I don’t know what to do.
When our children don’t listen to us in front of other people we feel shame and insignificant.
When we watch our kiddos do exactly what we asked them to do—but not because we asked, because Grandma or Aunt Molly asked them instead—we feel silly and like we’re doing something wrong.
But can I let you in on a little secret, mama?
Sometimes our kids aren’t going to listen to us. And sometimes, they’re going to go against what we’re asking them to do. And sometimes, they’re going to blatantly act out for us, but act like a sweetie pie for anyone who isn’t you.
It’s maddening. It’s frustrating. And, while our little ones are learning and growing and figuring out lessons on control and boundaries—it’s our lives.
But I am here to tell you one thing that I know. To shout it loudly in your face: YOU ARE STILL A REALLY GOOD MOM EVEN IF YOUR KID DOESN’T ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOU.
Because I see you in the checkout line at with a screaming child as you are checking the time on your phone silently wishing the line could move faster because it’s way past nap time but you really needed toilet paper (okay, okay, and a few Dollar Spot items and goldfish).
I see you at church shushing your 2-year-old as she scream-sings ‘Baby you’re a fiiiiiiirewoooorrrrk!’ so loud and she—quite frankly—does not care if that’s a church song because that’s the song on the docket right now whether anyone likes it or not.
I see you at toddler open play looking totally frazzled because you’re holding your baby while trying to climb up the blow-up slide because your toddler is scared and insists you go on it with him because he really wants to try it, but can’t without you, and will not rest his case until you all go down that darn slide.
I see you at a family party turning red in the face when you (nicely, calmly) asked your kiddo to share their Legos with their cousin and instead of obliging, they screamed, “NO! Leave me alone! I don’t like you!” as loud as can be.
I see you crying at a friend’s house because your little one just bit your friend’s kid and you feel terrible, and—to be honest—they did this to their sister last week, too, and you feel like the worst mom in the world and that you’re failing and this phase will never end and they’ll be kicked out of college one day for biting their classmates or professors and this parenting thing can feel hopeless can’t it?
I see you at your baby’s one year well visit feeling small and uncertain after you’ve been asked a million questions and you try to get your baby to say certain words or to do their latest trick on demand to ‘prove’ to the doctor that you are a ‘good mom’ and you ‘know what you’re doing’, but you instead feel like a not-so-great mother because well, she didn’t listen to one word you said in there.
I’m here to tell you: Me, too. And I understand. And you know what? Even when this stuff gets really hard—like, really, really hard—YOU’RE STILL GOOD AT THIS.
Even though they’re not listening and you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, or, actually, you thought you knew what you were doing, but in this moment you’re not so sure—YOU’RE STILL GOOD AT THIS.
Even if you’ve lost your patience because you can’t take the fact that no one follows directions and you feel like you’re not being heard—YOU’RE STILL GOOD AT THIS.
Tantrums and acting out can be seasons of our motherhood journey. They’ll pass and then they’ll come back again and then they’ll be gone, and so on. They’ll make us stronger and maybe even more compassionate. And I want you to know—
You love your kids.
You teach your kids.
You care for your kids.
You provide for your kids.
You worry about your kids.
You spend time with your kids.
You are really, really good at this. Promise.
[This story was originally published on January 29, 2018.]