The Right Kid for the Right Parent

by Ginger on March 20, 2012

in Mom Thoughts

Parenting isn’t what I thought it would be. Maybe because I was blessed with a child I wasn’t expecting, or maybe through a failure of imagination, or maybe (probably) because there is no way to really grasp what parenting will be like before you’re in it, my parenting experience has been thrilling and terrifying and heartbreaking and heartbursting and not at all what I expected.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I feel like my kiddo, light of my life and song of my heart, is a handful. I have questioned myself on countless occasions–why am I having such a hard time managing him, am I failing as a parent, why is everyone else having such an easier time? If his time as a newborn and infant was marked by thoughts of “hey, this isn’t THAT hard,” his time as toddler has been marked by thoughts of “oh my god, I am not the right parent for this kid.”

Admitting that I think that sometimes is hard. It’s hard to question yourself, especially when it comes to your kid. Especially when it comes to the one person on the planet that you want to be absolutely perfect for.

And yet.

At the same time.

I look at that boy and I know that he is making me a better person. He pushes me, pulls me, drags me to be a better parent. I cannot be complacent with him–he is an all-hands-on-deck child, one who requires full body and soul and mind attention. While my instinct is to sit, to be quiet, to watch and let the chips fall where they may his nature requires me getting up and getting moving and running and doing and acting and guiding. He needs me to be the action figure version of myself in every way.

I may not be the right parent for this kid, but he is doing his best to make me into the best version I can be for him.

Because he is the right kid for this parent.

I have never wanted to be better and  be more than for him. I want him to have the moon and the stars…and the best mom possible. I don’t ever want it to be ME who stops him, or holds him back, or makes him wish things had been different. I want to be the mom he deserves, and the only way to be that is to work at it.

shasta March 20, 2012 at 10:52 am

I absolutely applaud your self-awareness and willingness to meet the challenges of your little one. Nothing pisses me off more than parents who blithely dismiss strained parent-kid relationships as “Oh, she’s just so different from me. I just don’t like her as much as my other ones.”

OMFG, it’s NOT OK to dislike your kids when they’re little and can’t help being spirited or whiny or weird. YOU MUST CHANGE. When they’re teens or adult kids? Maybe then.

ARC March 20, 2012 at 11:30 am

WOW, people actually say stuff like this out loud and just dismiss it?? Yikes.

Tragic Sandwich March 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

I wondered that when Baguette was a newborn, but I don’t wonder now that she’s a toddler–we are as matched up as we could be.

Several years ago Carolyn Hax (my absolutely favorite advice columnist) said that not every parent is equally great with every age. So while you may feel that now you’re working more to be a great parent, I think the very fact that you’re doing that work probably means you’re more suited to it than you feel right now. And you’ll probably see that in what comes next, because he won’t be a toddler his whole life!

Ginger April 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I was great with him as a baby. Toddlerhood? Kicking my butt. But you’re right, he won’t be a toddler forever–which is part of why I work to try and be better for him, because he’s growing no matter what and so I have to parent no matter what.

But I will admit that this time may not be my BEST time.

Tragic Sandwich April 9, 2012 at 11:09 am

It can’t always be.

ARC March 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

Wow, I feel for you on this. My kid is pretty well matched to me, and I marvel at how well that turned out, but 2.5 is KICKING OUR BUTTS. So even in a scenario where she “fits” perfectly with our personalities, this particular age is VERY VERY difficult and I have to work hard every day to keep my frustration in check.

It is hard work, but I can see how it’s making me a better person, so for that I’m grateful.

I think key is making sure you have good childcare for both work and non-work times, and you USE it. Everyone needs a break, without any guilt.

Ginger April 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm

2.5 is KILLER. It’s gotten better, but there are days when I just don’t know if he’s going to drive me INSANE.

It does make me better–and even if it’s kicking and screaming–and I know that’s for the best.

Christa the BabbyMama March 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm

“why is everyone else having such an easier time?”

Because they are not telling you the full story 😉

clara March 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Exactly!

All hail honesty! Hip hip hooray.

Nicoleandmaggie March 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm

I don’t know about that. There’s combinations of nature and nurture that provide for relatively easy kids.

One thing I’ve noticed when out and about is that some parents don’t change their voice tones to the “I’m serious” tone. They say, “oh no, stop running around the store, that’s not nice” in a sort of resigned half-hearted tone but they don’t sound like they mean it. There’s a lot of little tricks that I wish I could just tell random people, but of course I can’t. I want to say, “Lower your voice, now say ‘Kid’s name. Stop running and come here.'” or if it’s a younger kid, in an excited tone, “Kid’s name! Come here so we can [something distracting!]” We picked up a lot as parents from our son’s daycare, where all the kids are incredibly well-behaved and independent.

Craftwhack March 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I feel this way, too- and my kids require me to do so much more and work so much harder than I ever have, and I love them for it. Even though it’s excruciatingly hard sometimes.

oilandgarlic March 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I think kids / parent relationship is like any other relationship in that sometimes you just easily click, or not. The big difference of course is that you love your kid unconditionally and will work on smoothing out differences and adapt as necessary! I also like someone’s point about how some people are better with different ages.

Ginger April 6, 2012 at 10:07 pm

It’s funny, because in a lot of ways I *do* think we click (I mean, as much as a 2.5 year old and a 32 year old can click), but other times…wow do we butt heads. I mostly think that it’s the age thing–toddlerhood just isn’t as easy for me as babyhood was. I’m hoping it gets somewhat easier in other ages!

Kate March 27, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Can you tell I’m catching up on blogs?? 🙂

This post is right on with how Jacob and I feel about B. She’s a struggle. A headache. And, sometimes (like tonight for example) a downright nightmare. But, she’s also a joy. Magical. Amazing. She was made BY us. FOR us. She makes me a better person and pushes me to limits I didn’t know existed. She brings to my knees and lifts my spirits to the heavens. She is definitely the right kid for the right parent. And, through all the turmoil – I remember that forever.

Ginger April 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Yes. Yes.All of this.

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