Kids are a conundrum. They can remember that one time you whispered “maybe” six months before their birthday when they asked if they could have a party at Chuck E Cheese’s, but they can’t remember where you said the shoes go. Even though you’ve given those instructions every day, multiple times a day, in varying tones of voice. Somehow the idea of placing shoes in a designated area eludes them, so when you trip over a discarded pair of sneakers everyone acts all wide-eyed, surprised when you call out loudly, “Whose shoes are on the kitchen floor?!!”
And so it is with most things where my young children are concerned. For example, the laundry shoot. I would have died for a laundry shoot as a kid. I mean, how cool is that? It’s a tunnel you can throw your clothes down and they magically appear in the laundry room! But other than an initial intrigue with tossing stuffed animals down the abyss, my children have lost all love for the thing.
Every day. Every day I say, “Just throw your dirty clothes down the shoot!” And every day I find them in the floor instead. Not just one floor. They don’t discriminate. It’s basically whatever room in which they decided to disrobe that they litter dirty laundry throughout.
Sadly what happens with me as a mother is I’m all good, smoothly sailing through the chaotic waters of parenting when suddenly something simple like clothes on the floor rocks my boat. Assaulted by the blatant ignoring of my instructions I grow mildly frustrated, but then it seems the longer I go about picking up piles of discarded articles and other trash bits thrown about, the angrier I get. I start fussing to my children, then I fuss some more. I pick up, I fuss, and my voice increases in amplitude. It reaches a crescendo moment right before I’m ready to snap, but honestly, sometimes I snap regardless.
This is what happened yesterday. It wasn’t something new, but the interruption I received from my husband was. Mid-rant he says to me, “Can you calm down please?!!”
Now if you’re like me when a man tells you to calm down he better get ready to don some boxing gloves. How dare he, am I right? After all, as the mother I’ve earned the right to yell at my kids if I want to, and who’s he to tell me to calm down? He has no idea what I go through on a daily basis.
And here’s the other thing. He’s not perfect. What right does he have to tell me how to parent my own children when he’s no saint of fatherhood? He can’t claim dad of the year, and I see him mess up plenty of times too. So here’s what I did when he tried to tell me how to parent.
Instead of becoming defensive or trying to point out his inadequacies I listened to his opinion and his reasoning behind why he thought I yelled too much. He stated his case as to how my rants would just spiral on and on to a point where the kids didn’t even hear my words. Perhaps they only heard in their own mind things like, “I’m the worst kid ever.”
And honestly, as my husband spoke I heard, “I’m the worst mom ever.” Cause that’s how you tend to respond when you realize you’re wrong.
“I just don’t want the kids to end up hating you.” He said.
When he first started talking all I wanted to do was lash out at him for disagreeing with me, but as I made myself be quiet, be open, and be calm, I realized he made really valid points. It’s true, I could be a hothead, and that was no good for anyone. So even though initially I wanted to bristle my quills and go on defense mode of his supposed correction of my parenting skills, in the end I realized he was just trying to help me. Because we were in this thing together.
When you parent with your partner you share the responsibility of raising your children, but you also share insight and different traits that can work together more effectively when they coexist in unison. I remember growing up my mom was the good cop and my dad was the bad cop. I’ll admit that in my own parenting when it comes to discipline I’m probably the softie, but I never want it to appear to the children like we’re not on the same team. We are. And as a parenting team sometimes you have to take a knee, make a huddle, and listen to your teammate’s point of view.
I think I surprised my husband that I took it so well, but perhaps this can be the beginning of a beautiful partnership as we raise our children together. I believe it can.