So, I made this observation about motherhood a few weeks ago that I’ve been mulling over ever since.
First, some context: When I was teaching and working on a college campus full-time, I was often told by my students that I would be a good mother. I appreciated those comments because I worked really hard to be an askable, reliable, relatable adult in their lives– given what was emotionally, intellectually, and appropriately needed in a situation. Sometimes it meant I needed to be tough, sometimes loving, sometimes I needed to provide levity to the situation, whatever it was, I tried to give the right thing in the right measure at the right time. It was my calling, I felt like, and I wanted to do it right.
Because of my success as an educator, I generally feel comfortable about my intention as a parent and my instincts and that there’s no one right way to parent. I am used to giving kids room and most like to have an approach that allows them that room. So, okay, those things don’t throw me off in my life as a mom. But the thing that I have been surprised by, the thing that does get to me as a mom is that I am Mom and just based on the nature of that relationship– not based on anything I do in that role- I am the person who gets rebelled against. Happy doesn’t want to hold my hand to cross the parking lot and so that leaves me- after plenty of pleading, bribing, and cajoling- with having to pick him up and have him kick and scream and thrash against me as we cross the lot to get to our car. But if anyone else– even someone he doesn’t know and certainly any one else’s mom- wants to hold his hand to cross the street, the little kid can’t stick his hand out fast enough. That I get push back JUST BECAUSE I am a mom is not anything I ever expected. And it’s also something I can’t do anything about. He’s not rebelling against my approach– he’s laying his course as an autonomous individual and I am the person who naturally gets in the way of that, even when I work my hardest to allow him as much autonomy as a kid can have. It’s an interesing observation, one that has humbled me as a mom but has also been equally illuminating.