I’m the meanest mom ever. I’m unreasonable and strict. I blow things out of proportion that don’t require the level of consequence that I impart. I enforce rules above the age level of my sweet, innocent child. I persist in punishing for an issue that isn’t that big of a deal. At least that’s what I’m told. But guess what?
I’m ok with that.
That’s why we have a new rule in our house. Brynna loves to wear dresses. She will choose a dress when going to ride bikes, eating at a restaurant or playing at the park. Unfortunately, that playing (and sometimes just standing in line at the grocery store) ends in her panties being shown. Like most 4 year olds, she hasn’t yet mastered the art of being ladylike. She is, however, Phi Beta Kappa in spinning and ending with a finale that includes flipping her dress over her head. Knowing that she’s a little girl and these things happen, I invested in bloomers. They are the cutest little things with ruffles on the butt. Adorable. Good, new age parenting. I protected her from being inappropriate but didn’t thwart her precious creativity and spirit. The problem is – she didn’t learn anything. She didn’t behave differently because she didn’t have to. When I said “Boys don’t need to see your panties,” she responded with “They can’t. Those are my bloomers.” So our new rule is this: If you wear a dress and I see your panties OR BLOOMERS, the next day you wear shorts or pants. The result of this rule: crying and gnashing of teeth. You’d think I were shooting bamboo under her fingernails.
This drama has led to our second issue at the moment. Brynna is going for the academy award daily – in whatever category is at hand. She’s even been known to attempt the Best Supporting Actress role when she feels her friend or cousin needs help turning up the showmanship. Recently during a tantrum, Brynna stomped her feet. Yesterday, she slammed a cup down on the table. Each outburst is met with a timeout or swat. Each time we discuss what she did and why it’s not appropriate. That’s how I know she’s aware of her behavior. So today, when she kicked a door, a new rule was born. If you choose to show your anger inappropriately, you also choose to lose something. Before the door swung back to hit the wall a second time, I calmly reached down, took Brynna’s coveted Twinkle Toes light up shoes off her feet and sent her to her room. Cue meltdown. After some time alone to recover, I went up to tell her to pick a new pair of shoes. Cue meltdown #2. She then had to put on the new shoes and have her hair combed. Cue meltdown #3. (Are you seeing a pattern?)
Is a cup on a table that big of a deal? Maybe not. She didn’t throw anything, make a mess or break anything. Is seeing the ruffly bloomers of an adorable little butt so bad? Maybe not. She isn’t making inappropriate gestures. She’s just having fun. That’s what little girls do.
But the reason I’m ok with holding the title of meanest mom ever is that I am more concerned about who she becomes than what she thinks of me in a moment when she’s upset. I care more about being her mom than being her friend. I value being what she needs more than what she likes. And after Miley Cyrus made me and a million other moms tear up this week with the heartbreak of imagining our little girl feeling like that’s what she needs to do for attention, I’m ok with that.
Do I like taking away the shoes that make her hop and smile with glee? Absolutely not. Is it easy? Never. Do I enjoy the argument that ensues each time she has to wear shorts? No. Would I rather skip the exhaustion and watch her joyfully twirling in a pretty dress? Yes. All day, yes. But that’s not what will shape her character. So pardon my tiredness and haggard appearance. Motherhood is a contact sport and if my pain is her gain…I’m ok with that.