You know those times in motherhood when your children are behaving, they use their manners, entertain themselves, and show you and others respect in every interaction? Those days where you can just sit back and enjoy all the hard parenting work you’ve done? These last two weeks were nowhere near that. Quite the opposite, in fact. The last two weeks were those days in motherhood when you realize that your children are ungrateful, rude, and whiny. Maybe it was too much together time on vacation. Maybe they were readjusting to their routine. Maybe they just watched too many YouTube videos. Whatever the excuse was, I was over it. Way over it.
Somewhere in the midst of the whining, something snapped. No more Ms. Nice Mom. They needed some tough accountability in their lives. Badly. So, they were sent to time out as soon as the whining started and had to stay there until it stopped. They got some added responsibility, including loading their own dishes and doing at least one chore before snacks after school. They lost more screen time than they had in the past two months.
My focus on their need for discipline and their current tantrum-filled state led to more than a few public outbursts. I’m no stranger to public outbursts. They aren’t my favorite, but I know there isn’t any escaping them. The loud outcries are embarrassing as a mom, but what I discovered during this most recent round of public tantrums was even more infuriating than the kids’ behavior. It was the other adults. Instead of supporting the parenting that was happening, they were comforting and trying to cheer up my kids.
The first encounter of this was while I was dropping off Riley at extended care in the morning. As usual, she was moving slower than a sloth, and I had only five minutes to get to work. I was in mid-lecture on the importance of responsibility when a teacher called out to Riley to ask why she was so grumpy and to put a smile on her face. Right in the middle of my lecture!
The next encounter happened at Maddie’s dance class. She was joining a new class to practice for their recital in a month. When I picked her up from school that day, she was in a terrible mood. She was probably in need of a snack and likely a little nervous about her new classmates, but that didn’t change the fact that she needed to practice and participate with her class — a fact I reviewed with her a couple of times on the way and that she said she understood. But, when we got to class, the meltdown began. Between the tears and crying, she refused to go to class. No amount of threats of punishment or reasoning were going to change her mind. So, we sat there. She may not have gone in, but she needed to be present for her classmates. She had a responsibility to them for that recital. I continued to explain that, and she continued her fit. Then, another dance mother leaned over my lap and sweetly asked Maddie about her tap shoes, trying to get a smile out of her.
Moms, I need to ask a favor. While my girls are learning important lessons on how to be functional adults, even though those lessons may be in public places from time to time, please, mind your own business. I promise to do the same.