I find myself doing this strange thing with other moms where we tell each other horror stories about our kids. “My kid cried for two hours because I told him he couldn’t wear his underwear on the outside of his pants”, one mom will proclaim. “My kid ran into traffic because I wouldn’t let her eat a lollipop off the ground,” another will retort.
I get it. Kids are tough. They’re irrational and rude. They cry and talk too much and at extreme volumes. My kids are definitely not perfect. But if I’m being honest, they’re really not that bad.
We usually have more good moments in a day than bad. They spend the majority of their time smiling and laughing. They tell me silly jokes and compliment me for just putting on pants. They listen really well and show me respect. They go to bed by 7pm and they eat their vegetables. I guess what I’m trying to say is, my kids don’t suck.
Unfortunately, I feel like I can’t say that. I fear that I would come across as a bragging mom who thinks her kids can do no wrong. Or even worse, give the impression that I think I’m a better mom and that’s the reason my kids are well behaved. I bet while reading that last paragraph, some of you even rolled your eyes a little. You wanted to tell me to shut up and get off my high horse.
Which is why when a group of moms are complaining about how tired they are because their kids kept them up all night, I just sit there. When someone notices my silence and looks at me for my comment, I try to relate. I do my best to think of a time my kids kept me up late or did something equally as frustrating. I say the complete opposite of what I want to say.
I want to explain how important a schedule is and give suggestions on how to establish an early bedtime. If I told the truth about last night, I would tell them that I put my kids to bed at 6:30 and my husband and I watched an episode of The Walking Dead and played a few rounds of Gin. However, I don’t want to be that mom. So, instead of handing them a detailed outline of what has worked best for us, I say a variation of, “Yeah, kids suck sometimes.”
That seems like the most appropriate and acceptable response. Especially since I know they’re not asking for advice. They’re just looking for someone to commiserate with. So commiserate, we shall. What’s next on the agenda? How about grocery shopping? Grocery shopping with kids is the pits, am I right?
If I could change one thing about the way I interact with other moms, it would be the child complaining. I understand that sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes we just need to vent and hear that we’re not the only ones experiencing this difficulty. But I wish we felt more compelled to find solidarity in the good. I wish we felt like we could compliment and praise our children publicly without coming across as a conceited or delusional parent. It would be nice to appreciate and talk about the good parts of parenting.
I’d love to have a conversation about how amazing our boys are doing at potty training and exchange helpful tips and advice, instead of discussing how bad their aim is and how boys are just slower than girls when it comes to learning certain things. I’d love to talk about how sweet our girls are and how lucky we are to have them instead of how sassy and emotional they are. I wish that I knew that it was ok to explain that, actually, my kids don’t suck.