Something I’ve realized about becoming a parent is that it really highlights the dominant elements of my personality. If I was introspective before, now I’m an absolute naval-gazer. A curious web-surfer? Now a total research junkie.
There’s just all this pressure to Get It Right. The French are doing it right. And so are the Italians. In fact, everyone is doing it right but me. Or you. Or anyone who is actually doing the naval-gazing at the time.
Parenting Sadie is hard freaking work. She’s the most awesome kid I’ve ever known, but she can be a real handful for me a lot of the time. I do my best to convince myself that it’s no big deal that she hits and kicks me when she’s mad. That it’s normal that she nearly always does exactly the opposite of what I ask her to do, unless she’s in a magical mood. She doesn’t listen to me. She couldn’t sit through a meal at the table if her life depended on it. I can’t take her into any store without almost certain meltdown. She yells and screams at me, flings her Sadie-sized furniture over onto the floor or even strikes out at the dogs and cats when she doesn’t get her way.
And I’m no peach, either. I speak too sternly, raise my voice, lose my patience, forget to look at things through her eyes. There are a hundred-and-one answers to the “problems” I have with Sadie, and I’m not using them. In the moment, it is unbelievably hard to remember the tricks to making your “no” come out like a “yes.” Nearly all of the time, I’m winging it.
But you know what? I don’t sweat it like I could. Yes, I worry about what it looks like from the outside when people see me “not having a handle on her” at Target. And absolutely, I am SO TIRED. But I don’t worry about my parenting, and I don’t worry about Sadie. Why not? Because every single time I share Sadie with the other adults in her life, her behavior is nearly immaculate. She spent Friday night at my aunt and uncle’s house (her Mimi and Papa), and when I picked her up Saturday morning, my aunt said that I’d left her with a “perfect child.” Okay, nobody’s kid is perfect, so don’t think I took that literally. But there is a recurring theme to the reports I get back from family members who have helped take care of Sadie. It’s that she’s well behaved, well mannered, pleasant and easy.
Whether or not I’m Doing It Right, whatever I’m doing (and Trevor, too, of course) is working.
No, I don’t love how hard it is sometimes to parent Sadie. But I love her with every fiber of my being, and I want her to be a happy, successful person. So If I have to take one for the team and be the person Sadie tests every single limit (I mean every single one) so she can be well behaved, well mannered, pleasant and easy for the rest of the world, I’ll do it. Because it’s working. So far, at least.