I am here to tell you the story of Beauty and the Beast. However, this isn’t quite the you story are familiar with from your childhood. It’s more like the tale of Jekyll and Hyde. With a sweet-faced 3-year-old (whom I will now refer to as Belle), as our main protagonist that turns into a screaming, crying beast at the drop of a mother’s correction. Meet the antagonist, the mother in the story that makes Belle cry every day. I am the mother, and this is my account of Being the Worst Mom in the World.
It’s 7:05 am and my darling girl tiptoes into the kitchen wearing her Belle nightgown. She asks me in her sleepy sweet voice what we are doing today. I answer that we are having a baby shower for one of the Mom’s at playgroup. She immediately throws herself on the floor crying because it isn’t ballet day. I should have known better. The dog is barking, and I go to let her in. Belle follows me screaming that she was supposed to do that. I remind her to use her words. I always spoil her fun with corrections. It’s time to get dressed and I won’t let her wear her Belle Pjs that are covered in this morning’s breakfast. I am so mean! I comb Belle’s hair, brush her teeth, and wrangle her into clean clothes, much to her disapproval. Soon we show up to the baby shower with cupcakes in hand. As the party goes on, Belle happily accepts a cupcake from one of the moms. I remind her to say, “thank you”. She grimaces at me, but obeys. Belle’s cupcake quickly disappears, and she reaches for another. I intervene and disappoint her by telling her that she can only have one. That’s when the sweet three-year-old looks me right in the eye and screams at me in her most beastly voice “You’re the WORST Mom in the World!” Is she right?
Okay yes, I am being dramatic. My daughter is far from being a beast. She is just like any normal 3-year-old who wants things to go her way. She doesn’t care about clean clothes, combed hair or “pleases” and “thank yous”. However, does ensuring good hygiene, health and manners make me “The Worst Mom in the World”? Surely not. But man, does she know how to make me feel like one sometimes. Those words hurt, and they make you reevaluate everything you are doing as a parent. Tell me I am not the only Mom in this boat?
Am I always the best mother? No. Do I sometimes lose my cool? Yes. But I pick my battles and I give choices where I can. “Do you want the pink dress or the blue dress?” or “Sure you can wear a tiara to the grocery store, but not to church”. I am also a stickler for setting boundaries for the things that matter, such as safety, health and manners. It’s a balance. In my adult brain I can rationalize that my positive reinforcements outweigh the times I say, “no,” or have to discipline her. But in her developing kid brain, the let downs add up quickly, and it’s hard for her to remember the choices I give her. Sometimes I’m sure it can feel like all she hears is “no”, and to a 3-year-old, it’s hard for her not to show her disappointment. On the flip side, it’s my job as a parent to help my daughter be the best that she can be. To teach her how to deal with disappointment appropriately. Even if that means I have to hear that “I’m the worst Mom in the world”. In a way, if my daughter thought that I was all fun and games and never felt like I was being mean, I would feel like I wasn’t doing my job as a parent.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I would rather be “The worst mom in the world” in my daughter’s eyes than give in to her every request or tantrum and create a “beast.” So here’s to all the Moms who say, “no”, when it would be easier to say, “yes”. To the Mom who is screamed at every morning for brushing their kid’s teeth. Here’s to you Mom at Target whose kid is throwing a tantrum because you said, “no” to the toy that they “Just Have to Have!” I raise up my cup of reheated (for the third time) coffee to you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you are doing it all right. One day when they are all grown up, you and your child, will both come to realize it.