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When My Son Asked, 'Mom, Do You Not Like Being a Parent?'

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“Mom, do you not like being a parent?”

This was the simple question from my young son as I was helping him in the shower one night…simply trying to get him to rinse the shampoo out of his hair, for what felt like the millionth time. I’m pretty sure I let out an exasperated “uhhh” without even realizing it, as I grabbed his arm and pulled him back under the water.

My immediate response was, “What?! Why would you even ask me that?”

“Because you said ‘uhh,”” throwing his hands up in his over-exaggerated way just for extra effect and to emphasize my irritation, his naked heinie shifting to the side with his arm movement.

I obviously start reassuring him, telling him how much I love being a parent. But in my mind, I’m thinking, “Oh no, the damage is done. I am somehow making him feel ‘less than.’”

But I have to remind myself there is a disconnect in what I mean or how I show frustration, and what they see/hear or how it makes them feel. Kids are so incredibly concrete and immediate. What is in front of them is what they cling to. My son won’t remember that I made him his favorite dinner, played math games or surprised them with ice cream…just one hour before this shower. But he will know how he feels in this one instance and question my love for him or dedication as a parent.

All kids do it and we don’t have control over that.

What we can control is our reaction and responses. And I know I can do a better job every single day.

You’ve heard the saying, “Kindness is like confetti. Sprinkle it everywhere.” Just swap “kindness” for “love” and you get the same concept. Pepper their days and nights with love. We can’t escape the trials, challenges or frustrating days, but we can show love throughout them all. Let the good times outweigh the bad. Take a mental breath before audibly letting out your breath.

Are there times that I wish I could just sit on my sofa and not be responsible for anything? Yes.

Are there times when I do actually wish he would stand under the water in the shower before I have to ask him 12 times to do so? Yes.

Are there times I do get frustrated and just wish they would do what they are supposed to do? Yes.

Does that make me human? Yes.

And am I still a good mom? Yes.

And let’s face it — moms LOVE their children, but moms also get tired and lose patience at times.

To combat this and balance out the mess, I try to show them love every chance I get. It’s in all the hugs and kisses out of nowhere, even when they don’t want them. It’s in the tickle under their chins just to see them laugh, even though I know it’s not their favorite. It’s in my words of love, even if they don’t always reciprocate. It’s in the little surprises here and there, even though they’ve come to expect them. It’s in the positive affirmations at bedtime to close out each day, hoping they drift to sleep feeling my love.

Despite all of this…my greatest fear is that I will somehow screw up these little people I’m in charge of. I have two chances left to get it right. Wish me luck.

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Photo credit: PaulBiryukov/Getty Images

Originally published: March 21, 2020
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