Friends, it's been an eternity since I last posted. I could give you a million excuses, but the only person I owe anything to is myself. I'm disappointed that I haven't kept record of the last year or so because life is moving at warp speed and I so desperately want to remember these moments, especially the sweet ones. But today, I'm going to remember a not-so-sweet one. Partially, because it's important to remind myself, and maybe some of you, that parenting is hard. Maybe sometimes harder than we want to admit. It's wonderful, and there are so many precious times while raising small children, but real life is ... well, it's not all precious.
Against my better judgment, I took both kids (3 and 1) to a very busy park on the first nice day after several unseasonably cold ones. I knew it would be packed, and I knew they'd likely spend the whole time running in opposite directions, but after a friend chastised me recently for saying I was avoiding public places with both of them due to the fear of the chaos (mind you, she only has one child, so ... you know...) I felt like I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and brave the 70 degree sunshine. Thankfully, two other mom friends were there and we were doing a bit of zone defense to help keep the kids under control. It honestly wasn't so bad and even though I wasn't able to socialize much with my friends, the kids were enjoying themselves, until London asked to go on the "big playground". I told her it was too far, that I had to stay in the small area with Winston but she could pick XYZ to do instead. A few minutes later, I caught her out of the corner of my eye on the farthest end of the very large playground. I took off running, leaving Winston virtually unsupervised, but for a few unassuming stranger moms who would hopefully intervene if he was dangling from a fire pole or something equally dangerous. I called her name, I counted to three, and finally I jumped the fence to find her climbing the steering wheel of an old caboose. I sharply and sternly yelled "LONDON CLAIRE" with not a shred of nonsense in my voice, walked over to where she was standing, and instructed her to get down and come with me.
Here's the thing, y'all, there were at least three other moms & their children on that caboose. And my raising of my voice at my disobedient 3yo caused them all to fall perfectly silent. Statues. Staring in shock. Judging eyes, waiting for my next move. Look, I'll be the first to admit, I am a firm mother, but I don't abuse my kids. I don't even spank them. They might have each gotten a few smacks on the hand when reaching for an electrical outlet, but that's about the worst of it. So I really didn't give it much thought to yell London's name across the playground today, but once my blood pressure lowered a bit, I started thinking. When did it become so unacceptable to raise our voices at our children? When did we become so politically correct that we are afraid to yell? And why are we not even a little bit afraid that we're raising a culture of sissies with all of these gentle parenting techniques? I'm not trying to break their spirits, but forgive me if I think a raised voice or a stern tone now and again is warranted. We're all so concerned with not offending anyone, NOT EVEN OUR OWN PRESCHOOLERS, that we're letting them run the show. And we have a million reasons as to why we're doing things the way we are, but I'm certain a good majority of us grew up with our parents raising their voices now and again - or worse, for many of us - and guess what: we're all moderately successful, functioning, respectful and socially adept adults!
Now let me clarify, it is 100% fine with me if you are able to effectively parent your child without so much as a harsh word or tone. I don't care in the least how you parent your child if it's working for you, but here's where I do care: 1. when the lack of supervision / discipline you're providing affects my kids and 2. when you start judging me for the way I parent, despite it not affecting your family in the slightest. I am not afraid of my children. I'm not afraid to piss them off. I'm not afraid of telling them no. I'm not lying in bed at night wondering if they're going to be in therapy in 20 years because I sent them to timeout after hitting their sibling. And while it is not my ultimate goal to make my kids afraid of me, I want them to respect authority. I want them to know that,when rules are made, they are to follow them. If that's not your cup of tea, great, do what works for you. But for Heaven's sake, can we quit with the side-eye?