So I mentioned that she screamed at me the whole way home. My method to deal with this was naturally to turn up the radio and rock out to Zac Brown Band. Like, not to the point where it would hurt her ears, but enough to where I could hear the music and sing along. Perhaps this was childish of me. Maybe I was just over it and didn’t know what else to do. Maybe it was just a really good song.
Here’s the other thing about kids. They start to develop emotions and feelings… you know? Like GROWN UPS? Because my daughter is an only child and she spends the majority of her time around adults, she tends to act like one from time to time. A lot. She’s only not even five, and I get that, but sometimes she’s just so mature for her age that I forget how old she really is. I forget that she’s just a little kid, and I think because of the way she acts, I often forget to let her act like a little kid, and instead expect her to act like a grown-up. This is something I need to work on within myself, because I don’t want to force her to be something she’s not before she’s even ready.
At one point, I turned down the radio and I said to her “You know, I just spent $70 on decorations for your birthday party and instead of saying Thank You, you complained about everything I put in the cart.” I went on to tell her that in my lifetime, I’ve had one birthday party that I can remember, and that it wasn’t until I was 13 that it even happened. I told her that I was sad that she was behaving the way that she was, and then I called her an ungrateful little brat.
Through her sobs and her tears from the back seat of my car, she told me “But you used to call me your Sweet Girl.”
To me? Dagger to the heart. Right smack in the middle of it. May as well turn it back and forth a few times while we’re at it. WORST MOM EVER. Why? Because what I said to her was something my mother would have said to me. The feelings I heard come out of my daughters mouth at that moment were the feelings that would have come out of my own five-year-old mouth had my own mom called me the same thing. My mom is still a name-caller to this day, and that’s a large reason why I’ve got nothing to do with her at this point in my life. When I told my husband about it, he jokingly said “Oh, how cute. She’s learning how to play you.” Except for she wasn’t trying to play me. I hurt her by calling her those names. I can’t take that back, and I can’t undo it. It grossed me out. I was ashamed of myself and I was heartbroken that I’d hurt her. I told you in Part I that I sent her to her room when we got home. Part of that was so that I could cry for a minute without having her see me. I don’t ever want to be to my baby girl what my mom had been to me my entire life. What she still tries to be today.
When we’d both had a chance to calm down (after more screaming at me through the door continued for a bit), I went in and sat down on her bed with her and we started to talk it out. Funny thing about 5 year olds these days is that they can actually understand you and reciprocate a conversation! I got frustrated with her a few times when she said she couldn’t find the words (you can sass me in more than one language, you can find the words). I asked her why she behaved the way she did. She said it was because she was hungry. I asked her if she thought there was maybe a better way to tell me she was hungry. She agreed that there was indeed a better way. I asked her if she thought I enjoyed having to yell at her. If she thought that I liked it. Her shoulders sank and the tears poured out of her face and she put her chin down and she said “Sometimes you’re mean. I feel like you don’t love me as much as you used to.”
Oh. My. God. To hear those worlds come out of the mouth of your child…. Awful does not begin to describe what that feels like.
I can’t even type that without crying. I can’t re-read the words without a quivering lip. She interprets my reprimands as being mean. I can see where she’s coming from – and I know when she’s older she’ll see where I’m coming from, but I see it as being a mom who doesn’t want her child to act a fool in public. I have her with me nearly everywhere I go. It’s a rare occurrence for her not to be with me when I’m out somewhere. I expect her to act a certain way. I am a strict mom. I don’t let her get away with much of anything, but because of the way I am with her, she’s a really good kid. She really is. I know that I need to let her be five. I know that I need to chill out and lighten up. She & I? We’ll figure this whole thing out together. She’s a different kid for me than she is for my husband, or than she is when he & I are out together with her. I need to figure out the mommy/daughter dynamic and I need to make sure that I don’t ever make her feel the way I was made to feel far too often when I was growing up. I need to figure out how to be the mom I always thought I would be.
That was a rough one for me though. I had a hard time hearing those words come out of her mouth. This morning she flipped her lid because I put product in her curls to bounce them back up after she got out of the shower. She wants straight hair to the point of tears and she’s only 5. We had a little bit of an argument about it, but nothing at all like the one we’d had the weekend before. I won’t do that to her again.
This whole parenting thing… I’ll tell you what – nearly all of this stuff for sure wasn’t in the What to Expect book. Being a mom is like trying to tame a lion while roller skating over jello, covered in sticky stuff and glitter from head to toe, all while trying to orchestrate a room full of monkies to knit scarves for the elves in the North Pole or something. It’s freaking hard.
I know that this one will seem weak by comparison as she gets older. I know that we’ll have our battles. I hate that we will. I hope that we won’t.
Ooof. Worst mom ever.