This summer, I rolled the dice and paid for a summer gymnastics class for my daughter. She was adamant that she wanted to try it and I figured (ok, hoped) maybe this would go better than the “can’t forget it soon enough” Y league soccer debacle of last Spring.
About four classes in, my daughter left to go to the bathroom, then refused to return to her class.
“Ok, let’s leave.”
“Well go back then.”
I started to lose my patience, cursing on the inside for not waiting until my daughter was 20 before paying another penny for classes or sports. I gave her one last chance to get back in that class or I’d pick her up and we were out of there. She started to go, then plopped down on the stairs, refusing to return. Following through on my promise, I picked her up, at which point she starts kicking and screaming about going back, and in front of all those parents with kids who seemed to manage to stay in their gymnastics class, I take her to the car.
She loses it and doesn’t want to leave. She was convincing. I gave her another final chance. We go in, go up the stairs, then she says
“No. I won’t go.”
“Ok,” I said, “You made your choice.”
Off we went again. I was done and once again, in front of all those parents who had just witnessed my last removal of my child, I got the hell out of there. Screaming in the car, my daughter wailed all the way home. I was so furious I felt like I didn’t want to speak to her the rest of the day. We got home, everyone calmed down. Life continued.
Two weeks later, we return to the class. My child goes inside. And stays. And, for the most part, listens. I am outside the class with the parents. One woman who I’ve seen at each class and spoken with occasionally, says to me “Things going better this week?” Inside I wanted to crawl under the chair. “So far,” I replied. Then she tells me that when all that happened a couple of weeks ago, I probably felt embarrassed or judged (I did), but that she could tell me they were all thinking “Go Mom!”. “You know, most parents wouldn’t have done what you did and took her out. She knows you mean business.” I thanked her for that. It was unexpected, much appreciated support.
Earlier this week, my little miracle decided she wasn’t going to her preschool class and staged a sit in outside the room in the hall. Finally, when she refused to budge, I picked her up and brought her in, where the teacher took her. I could hear her screaming and throwing a fit. I was so frustrated. I was running late for a meeting, had a long list of emails to respond to, and the last thing I needed was this. As I was walking from the class, a child in my daughter’s class and her mother were coming in. She looked at me (and heard my daughter) and said, “It’s ok girl, she’ll be alright.” I gave her a sigh and half smile as best I could manage and left.
I told her a couple of days later when I saw her again how thankful I was for what she said at that time. “We all go through it,” she said. And she’s right. We do all go through it. Though when our kid is going through it, does it not seem like every other kid on the face of the Earth manages to pull it together but ours? I hate that.
At a point when I felt like I was failing as a parent, frustrated, pissed off, or just tired, someone provided encouragement and validation that I wasn’t screwing it all up. They didn’t have to tell me that. They really didn’t know me well, but what they should know is how appreciative I was for that unexpected vote of confidence.
You know that whole “it takes a village” idea? It’s not just for the child, it’s also for you. Having someone, especially someone who isn’t close to you, be kind to you and make you feel like maybe you aren’t mucking it up is a thing of beauty. If you’ve done that for someone, even if they never told you, I will bet they appreciated it more than you realize.
We do all go through it. Every. Stinking. Day. It’s nice to remember, especially when your little one goes nuclear, that the people around you aren’t all judging you (yeah some probably are). Some relate to you. Some actually think you are doing an ok job as a mom and don’t we all need to hear that once in a while?